Auld Lang Syne
(but not in a festive New Year way...)
Bid a sad farewell to the beautiful Cleveland School of the Arts building (2064 Stearns Road, Cleveland). The school, in University Circle, was approved for demolition to make way for a replacement structure on the same site.
The stately, four-story orange brick Cleveland School of the Arts building is highlighted by three ornate terra cotta entrances. Built as Observation Elementary School in 1910, it is one of the oldest school buildings in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
In 2002, the CMSD completed an exterior renovation of the School of the Arts building, through the "Warm, Safe & Dry" initiative that included installation of new nine-over-nine windows, cleaning of the terra cotta entrances and reconstruction of the entrance stairs. The standing seam metal roof and brickwork appear to be in excellent condition. From the exterior, the building is in very good condition. It is hard to comprehend that this is not a wasteful loss.
A team of preservation experts from the board and staff of the Cleveland
Restoration Society toured the school in 2007 and urged the CMSD to consider creative solutions through careful study of programmatic needs, the current facilities, and the Ohio School Facilities Guidelines for school renovation, which would enable the preservation of significant portions of the original school structure.
We were very disappointed when the school officials were not at all open to the reuse of the historic building. All involved from the school side were set on demolishing the historic school for a new facility in that exact location. It seems a shame to demolish this building when there is so much vacant land in Cleveland. Why must we destroy our heritage for new construction when land is no longer at a premium? If not a school, this structure could have easily been adapted for housing, as many schools have been in Cleveland and across the country.
The building is not listed in the National Register of Historic Places, although it is likely eligible, nor is it a local Cleveland landmark, but it is also eligible for that distinction, in our opinion. None of the buildings in Phase I of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's demolition plan were locally landmarked and thus little could be done to stop their demolition, unless the individual council person spoke in favor of the unrecognized landmark. With CRS's advocacy efforts, many buildings in Phase II of the district's plan have been locally landmarked.
A presentation at the Cleveland Planning Commission in November 2011 showed the design of the new Cleveland School of the Arts building, which includes an intention to salvage the historic school's terra cotta for use on the interior of the new building. Click here to see what the firm Moody-Nolan presented to the commission. Kathleen Crowther, president of CRS, spoke in favor of the historic school building, even though its fate was already decided. Click here to hear what she had to say.
Terra cotta removal started in late December 2011. Demolition will begin very soon. This is another example of a sad, unnecessary loss of Cleveland's architectural legacy.