Tom L. Johnson Talks About Harris Cooley

from “My Story”, Tom L. Johnson’s autobiography 1912

From CSU Special Collections

The full book is here

Mr. Cooley, who had been at the head of the city’s charitable and correctional institutions from the very beginning of my administration, continued in this department, the duties of the new public service board being divided upon lines which assigned to him this field for which he was so admirably adapted. If service of a higher order on humanitarian lines had ever been rendered to any municipality than that rendered by Mr. Cooley to Cleveland, I have yet to hear of it. His convictions as to the causes of poverty and crrime coincided with my own. Believing as we did that society was responsible for poverty and that poverty was the cause of much of the crime in the world, we had no enthusiasm for punishing individuals. We were agreed that the root of the evil must be destroyed, and that in the meantime delinquent men, women and children were to be cared for by the society which had wrong them – not as object of charity, but as fellow-beings who had been deprived of the opportunity to get on in the world. With this broad basis on which to build, the structure of this department of Cleveland’s city government has attracted the attention of the whole civilized world. How small the work of philanthropists with their gifts of dollars appears, compared to the work of this man who gave men hope – a man who while doing charitable things never lost sight of the fact that justice and not charity would have to solve the problems with which he was coping.

In the very beginning Mr. Cooley came to me and said, “The immediate problem that is facing me is these men in the workhouse, some three hundred of them. I’ve been preaching the Golden Rule for many years; now I’m literally challenged to put it into practice. I know very well that we shall be misunderstood, criticized and probably severely opposed if we do to these prisoners as we would be done by.”

“Well, if it’s right, go ahead and do it anyhow,” I answered, and that was the beginning of a parole system that pardoned eleven hundred and sixty men and women in the first two years of our administration. To show what an innovation this was it is well to state that in the same length of time the previous administration had pardoned eighty-four. The correctness of the principle on which the parole system is based and the good results of its practice are now so generally accepted that it could not again encounter the opposition it met when Mr. Cooley instituted it in Cleveland. The newspapers and the churches – those two might makers of public opinion – were against it, yet it was successful from the very start.

In his first annual report Mr. Cooley recommended that a farm colony be established in the country within ten or twelve miles of the city, where all the city’s charges, the old, the sick, the young and the delinquent might be cared for. To quote his own words:

“Underneath this movement back to the land are simple fundamental principles. The first is that normal environment has a strong tendency to restore men to normal mental and physical condition. The second is that the land furnishes the largest opportunities for the aged and the defective to use whatever power and the talents they possess. In shop and factory the man who cannot do his full work is crowded out. Upon the land the men past their prime, the crippled, the weak can always find some useful work.”

Before the end of his nine years’ service Mr. Cooley’s hope was in part at least realized. From time to time the city purchased land upon his recommendation until twenty-five farms – nearly two thousand acres in all – had been acquired. The city council voted to name this great acreage the Cooley Farms, and so it is known. It is divided in the Colony Farm, which has taken the place of the old infirmary or city almshouse, the Overlook Farm for tuberculosis patients, the Correction Farm for workhouse prisoners, the Highland Park Farm, the municipal cemetery. Then there is the farm of two hundred and eight-five acres at Hudson, twenty-three miles from the city, which is the Boys’ Home. This farm was the first of the city’s purchases and the land was bought at less than forty-four dollars an acre. Here in eight cottages, each in charge of a master and matron, the boys from the juvenile court find a temporary home. There is no discipline suggesting a reformatory. There are schools with some manual training in addition to the regular school curriculum, and the care of the stock and other farm work to occupy the boys. The principle is the same as that of the George Junior Republic, but adapted to municipal needs. The boys respond wonderfully to the normal environment provided here. The juvenile court, though a state institution, always had the hearty support of the city administration and the court and the Boys’ Home have cooperated most successfully.

The city’s purchase of the first eight hundred and fifty acres of the Cooley Farms, on which the whole magnificent project hinged, was almost prevented by special privilege. Everything the administration attempted had come to be the object of its attack and at the time we no longer had a majority in the council. One Monday afternoon Mr. Cooley took one of our friendly councilmen out to the farm to show it to him. As something of the greatness of the proposed work dawned upon the man he grew enthusiastic and expressed himself most feelingly in favor of it. That night at the council meeting, when the purchase of the land was under consideration, this man got up and denounced the whole plan in a speech so bitterly sarcastic that it was with extreme difficulty that we saved the day. His speech all but defeated the appropriation. Mr. Cooley was so surprised that he could hardly credit the evidence of his own senses. It was perfectly clear that the councilman had “been seen,” between the time he had visited the farm site with Mr. Cooley in the afternoon and the hour of the council meeting at night. Mr. Cooley felt, as I did, that the enemy might at least have spared this project. The appropriation was made, the farm was purchased, but the incident had sad consequences.

The councilman – a young fellow – had undoubtedly gone into his office with the thought of doing good work and making it a stepping-stone to bigger and better service. When he talked with Mr. Cooley in the afternoon it was himself, the real man in him, that spoke. He believed in Mr. Cooley’s work. What happened between that time and the hour of the council meeting we do not know, but that man was never quite the same afterwards. Somehow he had been undone. He has since died. He wasn’t bad, but Privilege came along and laid hands upon him and spoiled his chance. Its path is strewn with tragedies like this.

All of the departments under Mr. Cooley were placed on a new basis, each as radical and as rational as the parole system or the method of conducting the Boys’ Home. Over the entrance to the Old Couples’ Cottage is inscribed, “To lose money is better than to lose love,” and the old men and women, instead of being separated as formerly and simply herded until death takes them away, live together now, and useful employment is provided for all who are able to work, for idleness is the great destroyer of happiness. Especial care has been taken to better the surroundings of the crippled and the sick. The buildings on Colony Farm are of marble dust plaster finish with red tile roofs and the Spanish mission style of architecture. Beautifully located on a ridge six hundred feet above the city, they look out onto Lake Erie ten miles away. A complete picture of the buildings, even to the olive trees which are one day to grow in the court and the fountain which is to splash in the center, to the canary birds singing in gilt cages in the windows of the cottages, to the old ladies sitting at their spinning wheels in the sun and to the old men cobbling shoes or working in wood in the shops, existed in Mr. Cooley’s mind when the city bought the first of the land and long before a spadeful of earth had been turned in exacavating.

The tuberculosis sanitarium is half a mile from the colony group, protected by a forest of seventy acres on the north and northwest and looking out over open country on the other sides. Here is waged an unequal contest with a disease which science can never eliminate until the social and industrial conditions which are responsible for it are changed. A mile and a half from the Colony Farm is the Correction Farm for the workhouse prisoners. The men come and go as they like from their work on the farm, at excavating for new buildings or quarrying stone. Refractory prisoners, instead of being dealt with by the old brutalizing methods, are bathed and given clean clothes and then sent off by themselves to reflect – not to solitary confinement in dark cells but to one of the “sun dungeons” originated by Mr. Cooley. These rooms – three of them – in one of the towers of the building are painted white, and flooded with light, sunshine and fresh air. It is part of Mr. Cooley’s theory that men need just such surroundings to put them in a normal state of mind when they are feeling ill used or ugly. – “Sending them to the Thinking Tower,” he calls it. – A volume would be inadequate to give even a partial conception of this branch of our administration’s activities.

All of the land in the city farms has increased greatly in value since it was purchased. Purely as a business venture it has been a good investment. Its value as a social investment cannot be estimated.

A History of the Cooley Farms Complex by Jeffrey T. Darbee

 

A History of the Cooley Farms Complex

Cleveland, Ohio

By Jeffrey T. Darbee, Historic Preservation Consultant

 

Benjamin D. Rickey & Co. 593 South Fifth Street Columbus, Ohio 43206

Phone 614.221.0358 Fax 614.464.9357

Drew Rolik Research Associate

July, 2001

 

Introduction

This monograph on the Cooley Farms complex has been prepared as part of mitigation efforts associated with issuance of a Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act of 1970. Under regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the federal agency providing funding or licensing of an undertaking involving historic properties (in this case the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) must determine the undertaking’s effect upon any such properties and find means of mitigating any adverse effects. Since the Chagrin Highlands project proposed for the Cooley Farms site will result in demolition of all remaining historic structures on the site, recordation through photography and preparation of this monograph have been agreed upon by the concerned parties as the appropriate means of mitigating the structures’ loss.

 

Charity, Philanthropy, and Welfare in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County

 

The concept of public provision of aid to Ohio’s ill, destitute, and disabled citizens dates to the territorial period in the late 18th century. A 1790 law empowered township justices of the peace to appoint overseers of the poor, who advised local government officials on the type and; amount of aid needed by local citizens. Townships could levy taxes to support these efforts.

 

The 1790 law was re-enacted with minor changes in 1805, two years after Ohio’s statehood. A provision passed in 1807 required black settlers to post a $500 “freehold bond” in case they became dependent upon relief, but this was abolished in 1829.

 

In response to a long economic slump beginning during the War of 1812, Ohio in 1816 enacted a statute enabling county commissioners to establish poorhouses for the destitute. Since Cuyahoga County did not act on this matter, Cleveland did, constructing a two-story frame poorhouse in 1827 near the Erie Street Cemetery. This was the beginning of a long history of generosity toward the less fortunate for which Cleveland would become famous and which continues today. In 1837, when another economic slump hit and Cleveland had achieved a population of about 9,000, the city’s poorhouse sheltered some two dozen poor, sick, and insane people, with another 200 receiving publicly-paid medical care.

 

In 1849 the city levied a tax to pay for a hospital and a new poorhouse, to which nearby communities sent their needy citizens and for which they paid Cleveland. The city thus became the center of care for poor, ill, and disabled people from throughout Cuyahoga County.

 

An 1850 law replaced the term poorhouse with infirmary, and in 1855 Cleveland replaced its original poorhouse with a new infirmary on the west side, near where its modern equivalent, Metro General Hospital, stands today on Scranton Road.

 

The Civil War brought in its wake new demands for services to the poor, ill, and disabled. Widows and children of dead soldiers, as well as surviving veterans who were ill or disabled, were numerous, particularly since Cleveland’s population doubled between 1860 and 1870. The economic growth of that period meant plentiful jobs, but poverty remained a real fact, and the large city population always had its share of sick and disabled people. 1865 state legislation improved organization and accountability of county infirmaries and put their management on a more professional basis. This was just in time for the economic panic of 1873, which was especially severe.

 

Private Efforts

 

In 1866, Ohio was the second state to establish a state Board of Charities, a response to the growing private movement to aid the poor, sick, and disabled. Lacking access to public dollars that funded the city and county’s poorhouse/infirmary system, private efforts were nonetheless important and were part of the social context within which public efforts took place. Private philanthropic efforts dated to 1830 and the founding of the Western Seamen’s Friend Society. This relief agency, focused of the mariners who were making Cleveland one the major ports on the Great Lakes, had both a philanthropic purpose (promoting moral values) and a charitable one (providing emergency food and shelter). Other early efforts included the Martha Washington & Dorcas Society of 1843, a temperance organization that also attempted to relieve poverty; the Cleveland Women’s Temperance Union in 1850; the Ladies Bethel Aid Society in 1867; and the Soldiers’ Aid Society of Northern Ohio, active during and after the Civil War. Most if not all of these early philanthropic efforts had a strong religious base and combined charitable relief functions with strong moral instruction intended to help recipients avoid actions and lifestyles that landed them in poverty.

 

In the post-Civil War period, private philanthropy focused on specialized institutions addressing particular problems or population groups, but still with a strong religious association. In this period, several different orphanages were established, as were homes for abandoned infants, known as “foundlings.” The YMCA, formed in the 1850s, was re-established in 1867, and the YWCA came into being the next year, both at Superior and West Third streets. As the city’s population exploded in the postwar period, with a resultant increase in urban ills such as it is prostitution and out-of-wedlock pregnancies, as well as increased poverty, local philanthropists responded with institutions such as the Catholic House of the Good Shepherd in 1869 and the Stillman Witt Home, part of the Protestant Orphan Asylum, in 1873.

 

As the end of the 19th century approached, Cleveland’s immigrant population grew rapidly in response to the job opportunities presented by the city’s rapid industrial development. Local government at this time, as earlier, still focused on general relief for people in various states of distress, and private efforts had started to aim at particular social ills. As a result, another form of private response to social needs, the settlement house, evolved to serve primarily the immigrant population. Settlement houses in Cleveland began mainly during the last decade of the century, when immigration was particularly high, and included Hiram House (1896) at 2723 Orange Avenue, Goodrich House (1896) at Bond Street and St. Clair Avenue, Alta House (1898) at 12515 Mayfield Road, all of which were Protestant organizations; and the Jewish Council Educational Alliance (1897).

 

As private social agencies and organizations multiplied in the post-Civil War period, there was concern about overlapping efforts, unwise giving, and creation of a dependent class of aid recipients. In response, the Charity Organization Society came into being in January of 1881 in an effort to coordinate all charitable giving in the city. One of 22 similar organizations in the United States, the C.O.S. emulated the first in the country, established in Buffalo in 1877, the idea having originated in England in the late 1860s. The Society distinguished between “honestly” poor people who wanted to find work and those who avoided work and sought a free ride, and much of the impetus for the organization seems to have been to outsmart the latter through a careful screening and certification process. Over time, however, the C.O.S.’s continuing investigations of charity cases in Cleveland resulted in recognition of factors that contributed to poverty. The group became an advocate for day nurseries so women could work, and it maintained job registries for both men and women. In 1884 the C.O.S. joined the Bethel Union to form Bethel Associated Charities, which evolved into the Family Services Association and, later, into today’s Center for Human Services, which remains a private, non-profit organization.

 

Public Hospitals

 

Against this backdrop of government and private efforts to assist the poor, ill, and disabled of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, the city established public hospitals for those who could not find or afford private care.

 

The cholera epidemic of 1832 spurred creation of the first component of what would become Ohio’s largest public health system. The City Hospital of Cleveland was founded in 1837 on East 14th Street, not far from the city’s poorhouse. Its stated purpose was to heal the indigent sick, but within a few years it had lost its focus and had become an asylum for the poor, infirm, and insane citizens, much like the poorhouse.

 

This state of affairs continued for a half-century, until 1889, when Cleveland built the first true “City Hospital” on the Scranton Road site west of the river, just north of where the poorhouse/infirmary had been located since 1855. This was in a portion of Brooklyn Township that was annexed to the City of Cleveland in 1873. As noted earlier, the public facilities at the Scranton Road site would evolve into today’s MetroGeneral Hospital. Maps from the 1880s identify the site as “City Infirmary” and as the location of “insane wards,” but the facility also provided actual medical care. By 1892 it had a staff of 28 doctors and a training school for nurses.

 

The Rise of Progressivism

 

By the turn of the 20th century Cleveland had become a major industrial center and was one of the nation’s largest and most important cities. With this status also came big-city problems such as crime, disease, and poverty on a scale Cleveland had not seen before. These were aggravated by several factors, including rapid industrialization that attracted large numbers of both native and immigrant unskilled workers; low wages and high levels of poverty due to a surplus of these workers; difficulty in organizing workers to seek better conditions, due to employer opposition to unions and fragmentation of workers into hard-to-unify national and ethnic groups; and an increasing gap between rich and poor that left people at the low end of the economic scale with fewer and fewer resources to meet daily needs.

 

Conditions such as these in cities across the nation gave rise in the 1890s to what became known as the Progressive Movement. For the first time, both public and private individuals, many of whom had worked for a long time in various social welfare undertakings, came together as a national social and political force seeking basic changes in the country’s direction. Progressives saw the nation’s social ills as the result of increasing concentration of political and economic power in fewer and fewer hands as the power of large corporations grew. In response, the movement articulated three primary goals: 1) to make government more democratic; 2) to attain social justice; and 3) to achieve a better distribution of the national income and wealth.

 

Tom Johnson and Progressivism in Cleveland

 

Tom L. Johnson was born in Kentucky in 1854 and was destined to become the principal municipal leader of the Progressive Movement. Though raised in a well-off family, Johnson early learned, primarily from his mother, to shed all distinctions of class and to accept people of any position in life as his equal; he would always be remembered for his optimistic view of life.

 

Johnson found employment as a youthful office boy at a street railway in Louisville. Showing his aptitude for the business, he became superintendent within two years and was thus launched on the path that would make him wealthy. His first big success was the invention of a street car farebox that both registered fares and kept the coins visible to detect counterfeits. With profits from this popular product, Johnson eventually purchased street railways in St. Louis, Detroit, Brooklyn, and Cleveland, where he moved in 1879. In 1889, he established a steel mill in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and produced specialized “girder” rails for street railway use, a product that enjoyed wide success due to the rapid expansion of the nation’s urban areas and transit systems.

 

Johnson was an advocate Henry George’s ideas on free trade and the “single tax” on land, intended to correct the abuses and economic inequality fostered by the existing system of wealth ownership and taxation. These thoughts blended well with Johnson’s egalitarian attitudes and led to his entering politics. In 1890 he ran for and won a seat in Congress, representing Cleveland’s 21st District. During this time he fought for free trade and against the protective tariffs advocated by his Republican opponents in Congress. In 1901 he ran for mayor of Cleveland and won.

 

Election as mayor gave Johnson the position and power really to do something about the problems facing one of the country’s major cities. During his four terms (he was defeated by the Republican candidate in 1909), Cleveland would become known as the most progressive and reform-minded large city in the nation. Johnson campaigned on issues of fair taxation, home rule, and breaking up of monopolies. He was perhaps best remembered for promoting a three-cent street car fare and municipal ownership of public utilities and services, both intended to help the legions of poorly paid urban workers. Cleveland’s Water Department, in particular, became a model of a successfully run municipal service.

 

Harris Reid Cooley and the Development of Cooley Farms

 

In his ongoing fight against people of privilege and on behalf of the “common man,” Tom Johnson found a friend and soulmate in his church pastor, Harris R. Cooley. Three years younger than Johnson, Cooley was born in Royalton, Ohio on October 18, 1857. His father was Lathrop Cooley, a well-known minister in the Disciples of Christ church. He was active in various ministries in the Western Reserve for six decades, and he imparted to his son a sense of duty and obligation to the less fortunate members of society. The elder Cooley preached at the city workhouse, the city jail, and the Aged Women’s Home, and he served as superintendent and chaplain of the Cleveland Bethel Union, a seaman’s mission involved in work-relief programs.

 

Cooley’s son Harris trained for the ministry at Hiram and Oberlin colleges and served as pastor in several Cleveland and northeast Ohio churches. At Cleveland’s Cedar Avenue Christian Church he befriended Tom Johnson, and the two men soon found that they shared strongly held beliefs about social justice and economic and political equality.

 

One of those shared beliefs concerned the causes of criminal activity. Cooley and Johnson, like most Progressives, believed that the physical setting in which people lived actually influenced whether they would engage in criminal activity. The city itself— especially the run-down industrial districts and the neighborhoods where industrial workers lived — bred crime like a swamp breeds mosquitoes. A collateral problem was the disease and disability often found in these places. Both Cooley and his friend the mayor believed that humane treatment, both of the ill and of the criminally inclined, was essential to the recovery of both and that removal from the city setting was the appropriate way to achieve this goal. The city’s citizens would regain physical and social health by being removed from the city — an anti-urban attitude that shaped much of American social and economic policy during the 20th century.

 

In his work, Cooley would enjoy Johnson’s unwavering support. In his autobiography Johnson observed of Cooley:

“His convictions as to the causes of poverty and crime coincided with my own. Believing as we did that society was responsible for poverty and that poverty was the cause of much of the crime in the world, we had no enthusiasm for punishing individuals. We were agreed that the root of the evil must be destroyed, and that in the meantime delinquent men, women and children were to be cared for by the society which had wronged them ~ not as objects of charity, but as fellow-beings who had been deprived of the opportunity to get on in the world.”

 

Such attitudes were the beacon by which Johnson — and like-minded associates such as Cooley — would administer the city in the first decade of the 20th century. Often viewed by conservative interests as dangerously radical, in true Progressive fashion Johnson sought nothing more than to give common working people a better deal than they were getting.

 

Immediately upon taking office as mayor, Johnson appointed Cooley as Director of Charities and Corrections for the City of Cleveland. Cooley held this post for ten years, into the administration of Mayor Newton D. Baker. Acting on his theory that the crowding, dirt, noise, and other negative aspects of urban life militated against public health and healthy lifestyles, upon his appointment to his city post Cooley began to develop the idea of a rural campus, “wholesome surroundings” in which the city’s charges could be cared for without the evils of the city intruding. Mayor Johnson gave Cooley his vigorous support, and acquisition of land began in 1904. The location was in Warrensville Township, some 10 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland, on a high tract of rolling rural land. The city had already begun acquiring land here in 1902 for a cemetery and between 1904 and 1912 acquired some 25 farms at a total cost of $350,000. The complex eventually totaled 2,000 acres, located primarily between Northfield and Richmond roads (which ran north-south) and on either side of Harvard Road (which ran east-west).

 

Cooley himself expressed the purpose of the new facility in terms which summed up his philosophy and his attitude toward his fellow man — terms which might be considered softhearted and romantic by some but which went to the core beliefs of this unusual public official. Speaking of the indigent and the delinquent in particular, Cooley said:

 

“They have made the human voyage. Among the unfortunates are some who have been wasteful, intemperate, and vicious. Some are undeserving, some have done wrong, but these things are true of some of the children of luxury.”

 

The entire complex became known as Cooley Farms and became widely known for its progressive approach toward the people in its care. Consistent with Cooley’s and the mayor’s ideas about crime, the complex also included a correctional facility for rehabilitation of lawbreakers. Attitudes of the time held that negative influences of the urban setting contributed to crime and vice and that removal of offenders from that environment was essential to their “correction.” The Cleveland Workhouse was first established in 1855 on the Scranton Road site near the city’s hospital and infirmary. It moved in 1871 to a site on Woodland Avenue at East 79th Street, and in 1912 it became part of Cooley Farms.

 

There were four components of Cooley Farms, all of which were in place by the period just before World War I. They included Colony Farm, which was the city infirmary/poorhouse, which also included a halfway house and cottages for elderly couples; Highland Park Farm, the city cemetery; Overlook Farm, a tuberculosis sanatorium; and Correction Farm, the city workhouse and house of corrections. The first two were north of Harvard Road, the cemetery in the northwest quadrant and Colony Farm in the northeast quadrant. The other two were south of Harvard, the Correction Farm in the southwest quadrant and Overlook Farm in the southeast. Each of the four occupied about 500 acres.

 

Adoption of the name “Farms” was not just to commemorate the original use of the land. Social philosophy of the time held that productive work was important in rehabilitating people of all kinds, from the aged and ill to the poor and the criminal. Thus the Cooley Farms complex was set up as a working farm, nearly self-sufficient, where everyone was expected to work according his physical and mental ability. Workhouse inmates did the heaviest work, which included operation of a quarry for building stone and cement production. They worked at the facility’s dairy, piggery, greenhouse, blacksmith shop, sawmill and cannery. Farm work included vegetable and feed production and an orchard. Workhouse inmates also maintained the grounds of the entire complex and worked on construction of many of the buildings. Able-bodied residents of the other “farms” also worked, mainly at lighter tasks. The entire Cooley Farms complex was considered a model for progressive treatment of social ills, the workhouse in particular. Social and economic journals of the day devoted considerable space to studies of the complex, and the Cleveland facility inspired similar efforts in Toledo and in two cases in New York City, the Farm Colony on Staten Island and the 1930s Camp LaGuardia in rural Orange County, intended for derelicts from the Bowery.

 

The workhouse at Correction Farm, completed in 1912, was also called the Cooley Farms Workhouse and the Cleveland House of Corrections. A women’s wing was added in 1913, and a separate boiler house was part of the original construction. The architect was J. Milton Dyer, a major Cleveland architect who had to his credit such important structures as Cleveland City Hall, the Peerless Motor Car Company, and the U.S. Coast Guard Station. The buildings employed a restrained Spanish Colonial Revival style, represented primarily by their red clay tile hip roofs and stuccoed walls. They were replaced by new facilities in the mid-1980s, and no historic structures survive at the site today.

 

Overlook Farm, the tuberculosis sanatorium, was first located in the Robert J. Walkden house, one of the farmhouses acquired by the city when it was making land purchases for Cooley Farms. Located on the west side of Richmond Readjust north of Harvard Road, the house served from 1906 until completion of the main sanatorium in 1913. The Walkden house was an 1870 Italianate building of brick construction. It had been unused and was in a state of deterioration at the time it was destroyed by fire in 1982.

 

The 1913 sanatorium was known as both Sunny Acres Sanatorium and Sunny Acres Hospital (exposure to sunlight was at one time thought to help cure tuberculosis). Both the main building and a 1931 addition were designed in a simplified Mission Revival style, which complemented the Spanish Colonial Revival elements of the Cleveland Workhouse and the Colony Farm. The 1913 building was designed by Herman Kregelius, and the 1931 addition was designed by George S. Ryder. The original facility, and its 1931 addition, survived into the late 1970s, when they were demolished for a new facility, which still serves as part of the county’s health care system as a long-term skilled nursing facility. No historic structures remain at the Sunny Acres site today.

 

The principal buildings of the Colony Farm, which was the replacement for the old City Infirmary at the Scranton Road site near downtown, were completed between 1909 and 1912.

 

Other later structures, discussed below, expanded the complex, and a large new main hospital building was built in the early 1950s after the complex was transferred to Cuyahoga County. It was about this time that the complex became known as Highland View Hospital. The sit was on the north side of Harvard Road west of Richmond Road.

 

The original complex included eight buildings: the Old Couples’ Cottage, the Female Insane Cottage, the North Dormitory, the Administration Building, the Quadrangle, the Power House, the South Dormitory, and the Male Insane Cottage. The design of the complex was the work of J. Milton Dyer, architect of the workhouse. The symmetry of the complex indicated the formality of the Beaux-Arts design Dyer originally proposed, which was abandoned in favor of the modest Spanish Mission-influenced design ultimately built.

 

The complex at its peak had fifteen separate structures and today consists of nine standing buildings and one set of ruins. Four of the buildings standing on the site were listed in the National Register of Historic Places on August 8, 1979, including original Colony Farm buildings known today as Sweeney Hall, Bingham Hall, the Quadrangle Building, and Carter Hall; the nomination was prepared by the Cuyahoga County Archives and was called “Cooley Farms Group.” The nomination also included the Cleveland House of Corrections, the House of Corrections Boiler House, and the Robert J. Walkden House. As was noted above, all of these buildings have been demolished.

 

The combined Sanborn maps of 1926-51/1953-61 give a picture of the hospital complex when it had reached its greatest size. From north to south, the principal buildings by the late 1950s included the following:

 

1. Highland View Hospital, originally known as the Cuyahoga Chronic Hospital and currently as the Main Building, built between 1951 and 1953. The building is still standing and is cross-shaped in plan. At its southeast end is a synagogue and an addition known as Reynolds Hall, both built in 1957. The hospital and additions were built of concrete and brick in a modified Moderne style typical of the early 1950s, with banded aluminum windows and no architectural ornamentation.

 

2. The Chronic Hospital (so called on the Sanborn Map), still standing and today called the Blossom Building. Its main elevation faces south, and it is attached on its north side to the south end of Reynolds Hall. The Blossom Building was built in 1932 in a spare Moderne design with modest amounts of stylized ornamentation and steel windows.

 

3. The Old Couples’ Cottage, which was in place by 1910 and was one of the original buildings in the complex. It was demolished at some point in the past, possibly the 1970s or 1980s.

 

4. The Female Insane Cottage, still standing and known today as Sweeney Hall. It dates from the original construction period of the hospital complex, completed in 1912, and it has the same Spanish Colonial Revival style elements found in other original buildings to the south and west. These elements include a red clay tile roof, exposed roof rafter ends, stuccoed wall surfaces, and some use of arched openings.

 

5. The North Dormitory, today called Bingham Hall. It is still standing and also dates from the 1912 original construction period. This building, too, was built with Spanish Colonial Revival style architectural elements and was part of an assemblage of buildings, as can be seen on the Sanborn map.

 

6. The administration building, located west of the main quadrangle and probably built about 1912 along with the other original buildings. This building was demolished at an unknown date, possibly in the 1970s or 1980s.

 

7. The original Quadrangle Building, also built in 1912 as part of the original complex. Like Sweeney and Bingham halls, this building had elements of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It was a true quadrangle, with an open courtyard in the center. The west and north legs were demolished in the 1960s, leaving an L-shaped building which today is still called the Quad Building.

 

8. The Power Plant is of indeterminate date and is still standing, attached to the east side of the Quad Building. The chimneys and other portions of the plant probably are original, since the complex’s remote location around 1912 likely would have meant that public utilities were unavailable. The plant would have provided steam for heating and would have generated electric power for the complex. The Power Plant has been modified over the years, and all its equipment appears to have been removed, but the building and chimneys are still standing. The Power Plant appears to be included in the National Register nomination (this conclusion is based on the map of the Cooley Farms Group, which appears to show the Power Plant attached to the east side of the Quadrangle Building), but it is not identified as a separate structure.

 

9. The eastern dormitory building, today called East House. This building, which is still standing, was built with Spanish Colonial Revival style elements and probably dates from the c!912 period. Its remote location suggests that it may have housed contagious patients, but this has not been verified.

 

10. South of East House was a greenhouse, which was demolished at an unknown date, possibly the 1970s or 1980s.

 

11. The South Dormitory, standing today and called Carter Hall. It was built in a “mirror” design of the North Dormitory and, together with the Administration Building and the Quadrangle Building, formed a symmetrical west-facing cluster of buildings of common architectural design. Dating from 1912, it formed part of the original core of the hospital complex.

 

12. Twin garages, built of brick and each of 10-car capacity. They appear to have had flat roofs. Both were destroyed by fire some time ago and today consist only of brick rubble. Their original date is unknown.

 

13. Building 54, which probably was the Male Insane Cottage, judging from its footprint and its location on the site. It dated from some time around the original construction and was demolished at some time in the past, possibly the 1970s or 1980s.

14. The Central Laundry Building, still standing and built in 1950. The building was functional in design, with brick walls, a flat roof, industrial-style windows, and no ornamentation.

 

15. As noted on the Sanborn map, a Recreation Building and a Dining Hall were located adjacent to a swimming pool. These were 800 feet southwest of the South Dormitory (Carter Hall), which would have placed them south of Harvard Road, which runs along the south side of the complex. These two buildings and the pool were demolished at an unknown date.

 

Other surviving elements of the site include concrete walks, paved drives and parking areas, and portions of former tunnels and covered passageways that provided all-weather access between some buildings. There are numerous trees and shrubs, many of which obviously were part of the site’s landscaping; others have grown up since the property was abandoned in the early 1980s.

 

Under the county’s administration, Highland View Hospital became well known for its care of chronically ill patients, specializing in treating the chronically disabled, stroke victims, and patients with neuro-muscular diseases. In 1957-58 the Cuyahoga County Hospital system was established and was credited with being the nation’s first county-run public hospital system. Highland View and City Hospital (now MetroHealth Medical Center, at the original Scranton Road location) were the system’s two principal units.

 

Between 1969 and 1973, the county began a move to phase out Highland View in favor of MetroGeneral Hospital at the location near downtown Cleveland. This decision apparently was made for financial reasons, to cut the cost necessary to run two large hospital complexes. By 1978 the last of Highland View’s patients was transferred to MetroGeneral. Other than use of two wings of the Main Building in the early 1980s as an alcoholism treatment center, the buildings at Highland View were never used again. The site was proposed for redevelopment during the 1980s by a local industrialist, but these plans never materialized. More recently, the property has been transferred to a Cleveland developer and is proposed for long-term commercial development.

 

MetroGeneral Hospital

Back near downtown Cleveland, after removal of the non-medical functions to Cooley Farms by the period just before World War I, City Hospital continued to operate in both the 1889 structure and in the former infirmary building. A tuberculosis sanatorium was established at the site in 1903, and the complex also cared for the insane, but these functions also were moved out by the mid-‘teens. From that period forward, the focus of the facility was on medical care, primarily for the indigent.

 

The distinction between the early institutions appears to have been that the City Hospital was for those suffering from short-term ailments and injuries, while the Infirmary was intended for people with chronic and long-term health problems. The long distance from the city apparently was thought not to be an inconvenience for such patients, perhaps because they were thought of as permanent residents with little need to leave the facility.

 

At MetroGeneral Hospital, there has been considerable demolition and re-building at the site, but three major structures — the General Hospital Building, the Psychopathic Building (both built in 1922), and the Nurses’ Residence (1926) — survive with a high level of integrity as excellent representatives of Cleveland’s early public health institutions.

 

Recommendations for Future Study

 

All of the historic structures at the Cooley Farms site will soon be gone as redevelopment goes forward. This will leave MetroGeneral Hospital’s historic buildings as the only ones remaining with a connection to city and county efforts to create large-scale public health facilities. For this reason, National Register nomination of Metro General’s surviving historic structures should be a high priority.

 

Other avenues of study could also be fruitful. For example, the schedule and budget for preparation of this monograph did not permit extensive use of primary source materials associated with the relationship between Cooley and Johnson and their decision to build the farm complex.

 

An identification and evaluation of any such materials would shed additional light upon the relationship of the two men and how they put their Progressive principles into practice in Cleveland.

 

In addition, study of the opposition ~ conservative, anti-Progressive economic and political interests — could help establish more of the context with which the Cooley Farms complex was created and operated. Such a large-scale effort, though successful, would not have gone forward without at least some opponents raising red flags. Newspapers of the time, in particular, could give a vivid picture of the opposing forces at work as early 20th century Cleveland struggled to deal with the issues of its new industrial economy.

 

 

Harris R. Cooley

From the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The link is here

COOLEY, HARRIS REID (18 Oct. 1857-24 Oct. 1936), minister and reform leader, was born to Laura Reid and LATHROP COOLEY† in Royalton, Ohio, graduated with a B.A. from Hiram College in 1877, and with a M.A. from Oberlin College in 1880. Following postgraduate work at Oberlin, he served 1-year pastorates in DISCIPLES OF CHRIST churches in Brunswick and Aurora, Ohio. In 1882, Cooley became pastor of Cedar Ave. Christian Church in Cleveland, retaining that position for 21 years. Among his large congregation was TOM L. JOHNSON†, who became a close friend, especially when Johnson became ill with typhoid fever. They shared ideals in politics and reform, with Cooley being almost alone among the city’s Protestant clergy supporting Johnson’s radical democracy. When Johnson was elected mayor in 1901, he appointed Cooley director of charities and correction, which he held for 10 years. Cooley created the farm colony on 2,000 acres WARRENSVILLE TWP., purchased in 1902 for $350,000, which housed the CLEVELAND WORKHOUSE, the county poorhouse, and a tuberculosis sanatorium. “Cooley Farms” was considered an outstanding example of progressive penology and health care. In 1903, Cooley supervised the opening of the City Farm School, popularly known as the CLEVELAND BOYS’ SCHOOL IN HUDSON, in Hudson, Ohio, which provided a rehabilitative setting where orphaned or incorrigible boys under 14 could be guided by a professional staff. Cooley also served on the City Plan Commission (1915-1934). In 1900, Cooley married Cora Clark, a Hiram College professor and suffragette; they had no children. He died in Cleveland and was buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY.

Harris Cooley excerpt from RH Bremner

COOLEY FARMS WAS NAMED in honor of Harris R. Cooley, the pastor of the Cedar Avenue Christian Church of Cleveland, who served as Director of Charities and Corrections under Tom L. Johnson and Newton D. Baker. Both the idea for the establishment of a farm colony and the responsibility for carrying out the project were his.

In his attitude toward social questions Cooley shared the theories held by Johnson, Samuel M. (Golden Rule) Jones, Brand Whitlock, and Frederic C. Howe. These ideas were not peculiar to the Civic Revival. They were parts of the social gospel which was undermining the individualistic pattern of thought (i.e., the evangelistic psychology) in American religion as well as in American politics in the early years of the twentieth century.

While the ideas he put into practice in Cleveland’s charitable and correctional institutions were thus not always original, Cooley gave them a more vigorous application than they received in any American city outside of Cleveland and Toledo. As Cooley explained to an interviewer, “‘nowhere in the United States had any one such a chance to apply them [the ideas] as Mr. Johnson gave me.” One of the points stressed in the school of psychology to which the Civic Revivalists adhered was the importance of environment in shaping the individual. Cooley Farms was the outgrowth of Cooley’s determination to provide Cleveland with institutions where the city’s charges could be cared for in wholesome surroundings.

Johnson gave Cooley’s proposal for the establishment of a farm colony his vigorous support and the Warrensville site was chosen fairly early in his administration. The project, uncompleted when Johnson left office, was carried on by Newton D. Baker. As indicated above, Cooley Farms was divided into four estates: Colony Farm (the almshouse). Correction Farm (the workhouse). Overlook Farm (the tuberculosis sanatorium), and Highland Park Farm (the municipal cemetery).

For our purposes the significant parts of Cooley Farms are the alms-house and the workhouse. Nearly everybody feels tenderly for the sick and the dead but a kindly attitude toward the indigent and the delinquent is less frequently encountered among public officials.

“They have made the human voyage,” said Cooley of the old men and women who were sent to Colony Farm. That simple fact was enough to stir his sympathy. “Among the unfortunates are some who have been wasteful, intemperate, and vicious. Some are undeserving, some have done wrong, but these things are true of some of the children of luxury.”

Cooley claimed that his generous treatment of the people who were forced to come to the almshouse was not dictated by charitable motives. In providing them with a pleasant home for their last years he thought society was only giving them what was their due. In his opinion, they were the crippled veterans of industry, deserving of at least as much generosity as is showered on the wounded veterans of wars.

“The bent backs, the swollen joints, the wrinkled faces of these underprivileged ones tell the story of trial, hardship and suffering. Most of them have done their fair share of the world’s work.” Cooley placed the red-roofed, stucco buildings of Colony Farm on a hill that commanded a beautiful view of the countryside. In a spirit reminiscent of Jones he had the phrase, “To lose money is better than to lose love.”