Tag Archives: Ohio City

Historic Cleveland

19 Nov

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It’s a beautiful day in Cleveland Ohio. We take advantage of the mild November temperatures and head downtown to do our own architectural walking tour. With the Jeep tucked away in a nearby parking structure we can take our time checking out the city without having to worry about feeding a meter. Our first stop is Marshall Frederick’s Fountain Of Eternal Life, also called the Cleveland War Memorial Fountain, Peace Arising From The Flames Of War, at Veterans Memorial Plaza. The inscription reads: IN HONORED MEMORY OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY. This is one of my favorite Marshall Frederick’s fountains; four groups in Norwegian emerald pearl granite 4′ x 12′ represent the four corners of the Earth, in the center a 35′ bronze human figure stands on a ball reaching toward the sky. The water is shut off for the season but when it’s on it makes this an even more incredible sight.  It’s placement on the southernmost end of the Mall affords incredible views of prominent buildings such as Public Square, Key Tower and Terminal Tower.

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Over on Superior we admire the exterior of the Cleveland Public Library main library building. After decades of moving around in and out of temporary and rented spaces, this building was built solely for the Main Library in 1925. It’s one of those magnificent buildings you just stop and stare at; detailed carvings, sconces, leaded glass windows all hint to the beauty found within. Before we go inside here are a few interesting things I’ve learned about the library. This was the first large public library to allow individuals to select their own books directly from the bookshelves, at other libraries only a librarian was allowed to do so. This library was a big deal to the community, by the 1930’s more than 12,000 individuals walked through its doors daily. Today the CPL circulates one of the largest and most extensive collections in the country with nearly 10 million items. After years of decline the building was completely renovated in 1999 to the tune of $24 million. Ok, now we can go inside.

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The entrance hall is flat-out gorgeous! There’s so much eye candy, my eyes don’t know where to focus. Straight up, a terrestrial globe made of pearl art glass glows softly, it’s based on one of the first maps depicting the early Americas done by Leonardo da Vinci. In the lobby, a barrel-vaulted ceiling is decorated with fine stencils representing the arts, writing and learning; looking back toward the door a brass clock is flanked by mythological griffins. Fantastic bare-bulb torchieres illuminate the lobby, it seems everything is marble including the main stairway and balustrade. Brett Memorial Hall is your basic reading room–you know, marble walls, coffered ceiling painted in rose, blue and gold; even the wool rugs match the colors and patterns of the ceiling. Travertine marble makes up the perimeter of the floor, this helps absorb sound echoes. Murals fill the upper walls, The City in 1822 by William Sommer was done in 1934 under the Public Works Art Project (PWAP), others were done in the late 1970’s, the bronze bust of Brett is original to the room.

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On the 2nd Floor the main attraction is a PWAP mural which depicts Cleveland’s waterfront in the 1830’s. Donald Bayard’s Early Transportation is as pretty today as it was in 1934, I enjoy the vibrant colors. The 3rd Floor is home to Fine Arts and Special collections, it’s our favorite floor. Here there are more paintings commissioned for the PWAP, exhibit cases in the corridor are made of wrought iron created by the Sterling Bronze Co. in 1925, we find materials related to the visual arts, musical scores and books and collectibles. The reading room is stunning; blue and gold floral designs decorate the ceilings, bare-bulb chandeliers light the space, doorways are surrounded by marble, doors are leather-covered. Large windows look out over the city, from here we have a birds-eye view of the Fountain of Eternal Life, the Mall, First Energy Stadium, and Lake Erie.

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There’s a lot to look at like the John G White Chess and Checkers Collection; Chess sets are made of delicately carved wood, stone, figures, even Salt and Pepper shakers. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a special exhibit is on display until December 31. The Cleveland Digital Public Library on this floor opened last February; a touch wall, digital lab and Preservation department connect the past to the future; the first commissioned PWAP mural by Ora Coltman, Dominance of the City (1934) hangs here. A giant mosaic tile Globe rests in the 4th Floor lobby, pretty cool. Suddenly music fills the air, as we descend the staircase we find a group of musicians has gathered at the top of the 3rd Floor, it seems they are warming up for a wedding that will take place here shortly. The sound follows us down to the main floor, it’s magical.

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Outside we realize we are just across the street from The Arcade, we pop in whenever we’re in the area. Built in 1890 and financed by the likes of John D Rockefeller, Marcus Hanna and Charles F Brush, this Victorian-era structure is magnificent! Workers are setting up for a wedding so we just do a quick walk-through–this place is an architectural treasure. Built by the Detroit Bridge Co, this is two 9-story buildings joined by a 5-story arcade with a glass skylight that spans over 300 ft, impressive. The detail is mind-blowing, every surface is decorative, it’s elegant, opulent, stunning–this is what an early shopping mall looked like in the US back in those days, and it is one of very few left.

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Our architecture and history tour continues with the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Public Square. Opened on July 4, 1894 this monument commemorates the American Civil War. The grand structure is imposing, awe-inspiring; four bronze groupings on the esplande depict battle scenes of the Navy, Artillery, Infantry and Cavalry. American flags rise up from each corner of the structure, today they flutter in the breeze. A 125′ column is topped with a statue of the Goddess of Freedom, defended by the Shield of Liberty, breathtaking.

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Inside the Memorial Room the names of 9,000 soldiers and sailors from Cuyahoga County OH who perished in the war cover tablet walls. Elegant stained glass windows, exquisite brass chandeliers, intricate marble floors have all been recently rehabilitated. Bronze relief sculptures honor significant moments and people, medals and personal items fill glass cases. A large column wears 6 bronze bands listing the names of 30 battles in which soldiers from this county fought, it’s all very humbling. 

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The day has passed quickly, over in Hingetown we stop for a bite to eat before driving home. Juke Box is one of those comfortable neighborhood joints where you can hang out with friends, grab a bite to eat, enjoy a craft beer and enjoy music from a rotating jukebox selection. It’s late afternoon so the place is quiet, the menu selection offers pierogi, sausage and kraut, the varieties of each are endless. We’re starving, so we decide quickly; you get 3 pierogi for $7 with two dipping sauces. We choose the potato, cheddar and farmers cheese pierogi with sour cream and creamy dill sauces, stellar choice. The special of the day is a sausage sandwich, ours is a beer brat topped with sauerkraut, grilled peppers and onions with spicy mustard on a crusty roll, yum! 

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It’s been a great weekend in Cleveland, we’re always discovering something new. Only three hours from Detroit, it’s one of our favorite places to go for a quick getaway. Now get out there and have some fun!

CLEVELAND: What’s New ???

3 Jun

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We’re in Cleveland for the weekend; our home base, Stone Gables Bed and Breakfast is nestled in the vibrant, charming, historic Ohio City neighborhood. A group of young entrepreneurs have given new life to the area now known as Hingetown in Ohio City. It’s a familiar story, vacant old buildings are restored and repurposed, new businesses move in and flourish, elevating the quality of life, which in turn attracts new residents and visitors. We’re on 29th Street in the midst of  a sun-drenched Saturday, the old Ohio City Firehouse building is buzzing with activity, people sit at picnic tables on the patio drinking cold beverages, dog walkers greet one another as they pass, bicycles whiz by. We step into the air-conditioned space of Urban Orchid, a floral and gift boutique. The place smells amazing, like Gardenia, fresh-cut flowers have been arranged into colorful centerpieces for a reception that will take place later in the evening. Cleveland goods such as t-shirts and cards as well as gift items created by local artists are available for purchase.

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Just around the corner of the firehouse is Rising Star Coffee Roasters, this was the first business to take a foothold on the block. Inside the line moves swiftly, the guy in front of me has the highest praise for the coffee and the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie–who am I to argue? Standing at a high-top table we have our cold brew coffee and cookie, both are excellent, never doubt a local. Back outside we cross the street to the Striebinger building with businesses on the street level and apartments on the second level. We wander in and out of each space, long and narrow interiors are accented by exposed brick and Edison bulbs. Glass storefronts allow sunlight to wash in giving shops an open, airy feel. Beet Juice Bar is doing a brisk business selling cold-pressed juice, I love the drop tin ceiling in Cleveland Tea Revival, the lunch crowd has started to arrive at Juke Box. Harness Cycle is a spinning studio that also sells cool work-out gear, pet owners make their way to Ohio City Dog Haven. This little district has the feel of a small village integrated right into the neighborhood, it’s wonderful.

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Heading west in the Jeep, we stumble upon the Madison Arts District on, what else, Madison Ave in Lakewood. We both spot the sign at the same time, Kris manages to turn around and park us in front of a quirky, vintage, antique, Mid Century shop called Googie Style. Googie is that modern, futuristic, atomic, car-culturish, bright-colored, starburst, anything goes style found from the 40’s to the 60’s. Inside we meet Margaret, one of the owners, she’s awesome. She points out some of the more unusual pieces, shares stories of great finds as we take in the fun and funky collection of items. Sure there’s the great mid-century design furniture, beautiful glass and copper sculptures, but there’s also a jack-a-lope, masks and a framed painting of parrots. With names of other shops in the area and a school to check out, we’re off.

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First the school, Lakewood High School on Franklin is home to Viktor Schreckengost’s 1954 sculpture, Johnny Appleseed. A native of Ohio, Schreckengost attended the Cleveland School of the Arts, designed the Jazz Bowl for Eleanor Roosevelt, taught industrial design and was a bicycle designer for Murray, Sears and others. The sculpture is kitchy-cool and definitely worth a look. Back on Madison we drop in and out of several antique shops. Great 70’s kitchenware, Corning Ware had some far out patterns, mushroom canisters were all the rage, ahhh, the memories… The Good Goat Gallery is a great place to stop and browse, the art ranges from fine to fun. Kris and I wander, we find it all quite attractive, dolls have amazing faces, paintings use bright colors, some of it is humorous, some solemn, much of it puts me in the mind of Latin America. The gallery is gearing up for a big show called Six Degrees of Vincent, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria will be there for the opening, looks like an awesome show!

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We are having lunch at Barrio, Cleveland’s own taco house serving up specialty tacos, tequila and whiskey. We are seated on the patio, pencils and menu pads stand in a metal bin on our table, our server brings us icy cold glasses of water and explains the ordering process. We’re hungry, too hungry to create our own tacos from the vast list of available ingredients, so we go with El Jefe’s Selecciones, we ask our server to bring us the first four on the list. Munching on still-warm chips and flavorful salsa our basket of tacos arrives. We each take two, eat half and switch, thank goodness for the roll of napkins in the basket. The Vegan Stoner is a soft shell with grilled peppers, onions, portobello, corn salsa, pickled veggies and a herb vinaigrette, delicious. El Jefe is a hard shell, wrapped in a soft shell and stuffed with queso, chorizo, chicken, corn salsa, smoked cheddar, lettuce, chipolte honey sauce, wow, a great combo of flavors and textures. El Puerco is the combo soft and hard shell with white cheese, pulled pork, queso fresco, chipolte honey, salsa roja, lettuce and tomato, so good! The Spicy Sapanaro is spicy, but not so hot that it’s hard to eat. Here we have the soft and hard shell, cheese, chorizo, chicken, queso fresco, salsa roja and secret sauce, yum! I can see why Barrio is such a local favorite.

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Refreshed and re-energized we drive into downtown Cleveland to check out Heinen’s on 9th and Euclid. This gorgeous building, designed by George B Post, opened in 1908 as the Cleveland Trust Building. The building was occupied by Cleveland Trust, then Ameri Trust and finally Society Corp until the 1990’s. Today Cleveland’s oldest family-owned grocery chain, Heinen’s operates out of this iconic domed structure. The exterior is richly detailed with carvings and columns, one look and you know it was an important building in its day.

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Inside, your eyes are immediately drawn to the elaborate, beautiful glass dome. A ring of super-ornate plaster covered in gold leaf caps arches and more columns, illuminated rosettes are magnificent, a stunning railing runs the perimeter of the mezzanine level, hand painted murals peek out between arches, plaster details are heavy. Cafe tables fill the circular ground floor, grab a coffee, something from the bakery or a meal at one of the counters. The mezzanine level offers wine tasting, a huge selection of bottles and beer. From here the overall view is spectacular; above, the murals, dome and all of its details, below, the patterned marble floor, the stairway is pretty snazzy too. Aisles are located in the space beyond the dome for all your grocery needs.

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We make one last stop on our way back to our room, there’s a new ice cream shop on Bridge Street we want to check out. Mason’s Creamery is housed in a tiny Mid Century building with a covered patio that looks like it has always been a neighborhood ice cream shop. Folks are gathered along the freezer staring into five-gallon drums of frozen deliciousness; tasting is encouraged and everyone seems to be doing their part. Along with the usual suspects, Mason’s offers flavors like popcorn, Cleveland Whiskey, butterscotch and Paw Paw. Flavors are made in-house in small batches, today there are about a dozen to choose from. I taste and I taste, it’s the dark chocolate I like the best, Kris goes with the Roasted Peanut, they add a drizzle of strawberry for that peanut butter and jelly combo. We eat our dessert sitting at a small table, it’s fun to watch people try the different flavors, the line continually repopulates. It has been a day of fun and new discoveries in a place so familiar to us. There’s still tomorrow………..

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Roadtrip Cleveland: The Greater Cleveland Aquarium

16 Jun

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Under the blue umbrella sky we started our drive south and east; destination Cleveland.  We love Cleveland, seriously, this town is highly underrated. Each time we visit we find more and more reasons to come back. Since we were here last, the Greater Cleveland Aquarium had opened, so that was the first place we went when we arrived in town. Located in the historic  FirstEnergy Powerhouse on the west bank of the flats, they have even turned the old coal mining tunnels into underwater displays; what a cool way to re-use a 100-year-old building! We paid for our tickets and started to look around.  The fish are all colorful; yellow angelfish, pink starfish, giant seahorses and clownfish with their whimsical stripes. Displays are eye-catching,  the Coral Reef, amazing! With over 35 tanks the variety of fish runs the gamut from Ohio game fish to alligators, octopus and sharks and rays of the Florida Keys. One area features an 11,000 gallon “touch tank”;  pet a horseshoe crab, sea urchin, sea cucumber, maybe even a shark or stingray. Then we made it to the Sea Tube, WOW, this is definitely the main attraction; an acrylic underwater tunnel that allows you a fascinating  walk-through experience. Home to over 18 sharks, fish and sting rays, you are surrounded by sea life. The tunnel goes on for over 150 feet; sharks swim overhead and alongside as you walk, schools of fish seemingly avoid the shark’s path, stingrays look as if they are flying as opposed to swimming. It’s peaceful and relaxing, it’s the place folks tend to linger. With the temperatures rising outside it was a great respite inside, cool and refreshing , just like a dip in the ocean.

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Cleveland is loaded with great districts, we ventured over to Ohio City for lunch. With many options available we selected La Petit Triangle Cafe; drawn in by its charming sidewalk seating we chose a table in the shade. This is one of those great neighborhood hang-outs; diners and staff all seem to know each other. Menu offerings are definitely French influenced, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner they also serve espresso, wine and other alcoholic beverages. We wanted something cool and refreshing, we chose the Triangle Salad; crisp greens, chevre, walnuts and dried cranberries topped off with a raspberry vinaigrette. For a sandwich the Pan Bagna had a winning combination of ham, swiss, tomato, artichoke, spinach and olive tapenade all piled atop a crisp and chewy French baguette, sounds good doesn’t it? It was! The iced tea of the day was a pomegranate green tea, so nice on a summer day. The funny thing was our waitress remembered us from last time we ate there, she said, aren’t you guys from Detroit? Now that’s some memory. She was actually headed to Detroit for the weekend….the electronic music festival, so we gave her a few tips and she did the same for us.

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Just a short drive from the restaurant, we thought we’d check into our room next. As always, we booked a room at Stone Gables Bed and Breakfast; we have been coming here for years, our favorite place to stay in Cleveland. The accommodations and location suit us perfectly; just a couple of blocks from Lake Erie and close to Westside Market and good restaurants it’s no wonder we keep coming back. I read about a new ice cream place that opened recently in the Gordon Square Arts District, so we took a drive over. The district runs up and down Detroit Street from West 58th to West 73rd; home the Cleveland Public Theatre, the newly restored Capitol Theatre, public art, cafes and funky independent shops this area has really come to life. Before we did anything else we had to find Sweet Moses; named after the city’s founder Moses Cleaveland, we had heard only good things about it, now I know why…Walk in the door and you will find yourself in an old-time soda fountain and treat shop. The space has been completely transformed with an authentic Bastion-Blessings soda fountain; framed in 16 feet of Tennessee marble with bar stools and vintage tables with wrought iron chairs it is a step back in time. The ice cream is all homemade along with hot fudge and caramel toppings, toffee, fudge and nut brittle’s, it’s a sweet-lovers dream come true. We had a seat at the counter and ordered a double chocolate malt made with the Belgian Chocolate ice cream, you know what, it would be worth the drive to go get one right now…it’s that good. With a wonderful real chocolate taste it was the perfect proportion of ice cream and malted milk, blended until still thick but not lumpy; large enough to share, it was fantastic! Served with a topping of fresh whipped cream that came from a chrome-like nozzle that pulled out of the soda fountain itself, it was fun to watch them make up orders as we indulged in our malt. Along with sundaes, cones, malts and shakes they also do old-fashioned phosphates and sodas made with carbonated water…..they even make their own root beer.  If I lived in Cleveland this would be a dangerous place for me. Time to walk off some of those calories; walking down Detroit we saw a sign on a corner directing us down a side street to a shop called Artful Living. Following the arrow we made our way in, what a great place; beautiful items for your home, jewelry, artwork and more. I found a pair of earrings I loved so I paid for them then immediately put them on. Little places like this seem to be popping up in the district. After a walk up and back ,taking our time to browse interesting shops, we went back to the room for a little rest and relaxation.

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Tremont is located on a bluff that overlooks the bend in the Cuyahoga River and provides excellent views of downtown, oh, and it has tons of restaurants, really good restaurants. One fine example would be Lolita, which is where we had dinner. Located on Literary Ave, this is one of Michael Symons early restaurants. Always busy, we were lucky enough to get a table right away, one of the advantages of having a late dinner. Service has always been impeccable and this time was no different. We had an appetizer of roasted dates; bacon wrapped with almonds chiles and parsley, they were outstanding. For our entrée the Olive Pizza sounded good; olives, mozzarella, Fresno chiles and oregano it was a nice combo of salty and spicy. One of the days side dishes was a polenta, I’m thinking it was made with cream cheese, it was so good.

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There was one more place we wanted to check out before the  night was over; The Prosperity Social Club. Opened in 2005, the original barroom building has stood in this spot on Starkweather Ave since 1938. The decor is vintage; from the stunning Art Deco bar and chestnut walls to the super-cool beer light fixtures, all are welcome here. There’s a wood burning fireplace and a game room that features an old-fashioned bowling machine, pool table and vintage board games. Along with a full service bar they also serve micro-brews and a tavern-style food menu, it is truly a neighborhood gem. There were two open seats at the bar, perfect. We ordered our drinks then kicked back. We met a nice couple from the area and ended up chatting with them for a while, how nice. We have always found Clevelanders to be friendly and fun to talk to, afterall Detroit and Cleveland have shared many of the same ups and downs through the decades; looks to me like both places are on the ups.

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