Thursday, November 26, 2009

Historic Interiors in the News

I just noticed that the Plain Dealer has been full of news on historic interior spaces this week. On Sunday the Culture section had an article on the best seat in Severance Hall and in the Drury Theater at the Cleveland Play House. Then there was a two-part series on the issues with the Medical Mart, which included a photo of the mammoth Public Auditorium. Finally (?) today there's an article on one of my favorite buildings, the old Cleveland Trust Bank at Ninth and Euclid, including a wonderful shot of the main lobby and dome. What's next? The Huntington Bank lobby? The old Society for Savings lobby? They all appealed to me more than the artist's rendition of the proposed Medical Mart.

(Returning to the issue of Public Auditorium, I haven't seen any discussion of why, if we determine that the Medical Mart developers are correct in their assessment of Public Auditorium's condition, we wouldn't just increase the cost of the project and fix the hall so it can be included. Surely we cannot afford to have conventions coming to town over then next few years think it's a safety hazard, so we may have to address that problem anyway. And while we're at it, finish the negotiations with the property owners on Ontario and St. Clair, or take the land by eminent domain. I have a bad feeling about the idea of a glass box on Mall C and want to see the original plan restored.)

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Sustainable Access

In library, museum and archival circles there appears to be a conflicting dichotomy between Access and Preservation: between the goal of using rare materials and the goal of keeping them from being damaged. Professionals see these goals as two sides of the same coin, but patrons encountering limited or no allowable access might view preservation measures as "hiding things away so no one can ever see them."

In actually, preservation is nothing more than a long-term access strategy. Or to put it another way, the dichotomy is between ensuring both short-term access and long-term access. We want things to be accessed and used, of course, but also need to provide for access and use in the near and distant future. It is a continuum of access over time that I've taken to calling "Sustainable Access." We want to sustain the same level of access and use over an unspecified length of time and employ preservation methods to this end.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mysterious Eastside Building to Become Doubletree Hotel

Cleveland east-siders all recognize this building, on the southwest corner of Carnegie and East 107th Street, but few know anything about it. Some could mention that the Jobs Corps was in there, but feel unsatisfied with that reply, since the age and style of the building doesn't fit the idea of a governmental social service agency. And with the demise of the Carnegie Medical Building a couple of blocks to the west and with this building's upper stories wrapped in netting to prevent pieces from falling on the sidewalk and street below, we all have had the apprehension that its days were numbered, whatever exactly its history.

This morning's Plain Dealer solved the mystery (was I the only one?) and hopefully the apprehension when it announced that the old Tudor Arms Hotel had been sold to the Maron family of developers to be turned into a Doubletree Hotel. This is terrific news and I for one hope it goes through. According to the article, the building started life in 1931 as the home of the Cleveland Club -- shades of CSU's Fenn Tower, which started about the same time as the National Town and Country Club -- and then a hotel, a home for students and the Job Corps over time. Becoming a residential property again seems very fitting. Keep your fingers crossed.

(Photos from the Cleveland Press Collection, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University, are dated 1960.)

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New Book: "Gimme Rewrite, Sweetheart"

Announcement received.


Fifty-four veteran Cleveland reporters, editors and photographers swap stories about the life and times of the newspaper business in a new book: Gimme Rewrite, Sweetheart: Tales from the Last Glory Days of Cleveland Newspapers (hardcover / $24.95 / 256 pages).

The book, which was compiled from interviews conducted by John H. Tidyman, provides an oral history of the period between 1950 and 1982. During that time, fierce competition between the “Cleveland Press” and the “Plain Dealer” made working for a daily paper an unusually interesting job. (The Press ceased operation on June 17, 1982, a date many people consider the sad end of an era.)

“It was a job unlike any other,” Tidyman said. “Reporters, photographers and editors were envied, threatened, beatified, fooled and thought to be the luckiest s.o.b.’s around.”

Contributors to the book are former staffers from the Plain Dealer and Cleveland Press, many of them familiar to readers from their bylines — Dick Feagler, Brent Larkin, Marge Alge, Don Bean, William Miller, Dan Coughlin, Dick Peery, George Condon, Helen Moise, Mike Roberts, Bob Dolgan and Bill Wynne, among others.

All of them share a common nostalgia for the bygone era when Cleveland had competing daily newspapers and newsrooms were filled with the sound of typewriters and the ring of the newswire bells.

The stories they tell range from funny to tragic and sometimes outrageous. For example:

-Jim Dudas (Press) once bribed a prisoner with a carton of cigarettes to refuse an interview with the rival Plain Dealer.

-Whitey Watzman (Plain Dealer) ventured onto a crime scene and stumbled upon half a dozen officers, guns drawn, waiting in the dark for the real criminal.

-Wally Guenther (Press) infiltrated and wrote about the Ku Klux Klan.

-William F. Miller (Plain Dealer) put on a hardhat and passed himself off as a Salvation Army worker to cover a Great Lakes ore boat fire.

The book groups stories thematically, including chapters on the police beat, sportswriting, the women’s department, drinking on the job, and hazardous assignments. Short anecdotes from different storytellers are interspersed so that the text reads like an informal conversation among longtime colleagues.

More samples and information can be found online at:

About the Author
John Tidyman was ordered by his father to take a touch-typing class the summer before high school. Tidyman often cites that incident as the reason he became a writer. After graduating from Lakewood High School, he was drafted and fought in the Vietnam War. He returned a 19-year old “buck sergeant.” Before he joined the Cleveland Press as a reporter, Tidyman worked as a waiter, a warehouseman and an airfreight agent. He is the author of eight books and has also written for almost every area publication.

Price and AvailabilityGimme Rewrite, Sweetheart ($24.95 / hardcover / 256 pages) is available at Northeast Ohio bookstores, online from, and from the publisher’s Web site. For more information, call Gray & Company, Publishers at 1-800-915-3609, or visit their Web site:

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ASM Int'l Dome on Nat'l Register

The ASM International dome has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to this morning's Plain Dealer (earlier article).

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New blog: Cleveland Area History

Christopher Busta-Peck has branched out from his blog about restoring his Shaker Heights home to writing about Cleveland Area History in general, with an emphasis on the preservation of historic properties. It's well worth following!

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