The City Club of Cleveland’s move to Playhouse Square heralds higher visibility for historic Cleveland institution – June 8, 2023

The City Club of Cleveland is taking over the ground floor of the building formerly known as the Dwellworks building, under the big Playhouse Square sign, at East 13th Street and Euclid Avenue.Steven Litt,

The City Club of Cleveland’s move to Playhouse Square heralds higher visibility for historic Cleveland institution
by Steven Litt, – June 8, 2023
The link is here

CLEVELAND, Ohio — America’s Citadel of Free Speech is getting ready to come down to earth so it can retail big ideas from a storefront on the sunny side of the street.

Those points capture the essence of plans by the 111-year-old City Club of Cleveland to move by September, with a precise date to be determined, from its current home in an upstairs space west of East Ninth Street downtown to the ground floor in a former F.W. Woolworth store at 1317 Euclid Ave. in the heart of Playhouse Square.

“We’re creating a retail civic experience here that is all about access and accessibility,’’ said Dan Moulthrop, the club’s CEO since 2013. “I’m thrilled.”

A non-partisan debate forum and a beloved Cleveland Institution, the club is famous for giving open mics to everyone from Carl Stokes, Robert F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama to Liz Cheney, Karl Rove, and William Barr.

The club’s new home will be the sixth in its history of bouncing around downtown since 1912. And it may be the most important move yet.

For the past 40 years, the club has been the sole tenant on the second floor of the eponymous, 13-story City Club Building, built in 1907 at 850 Euclid Ave. The building faces north from the south side of the avenue, meaning that sunlight has not been a big factor inside the floor occupied by its marquee tenant. Nor was visibility from the street.

Going upstairs at 850 meant punching 2 in the building’s vintage elevators or taking the stairs. Renovated in 1999, the club has always felt welcoming and lively, despite being internally focused and not directly connected to the surrounding city.

At Playhouse Square, the club will be far more visible on the north side of Euclid Avenue inside a new, sidewalk-friendly storefront where it will face south into the sun from behind big glassy windows. It’s a fitting spot for an institution whose mission is “to create conversations of consequence that help democracy thrive.’’

Moulthrop said he’s excited to have a nonprofit organization as the club’s landlord because the relationship could give his organization a new sense of long-term stability in comparison to inhabiting commercial real estate that could change hands.

The club announced its upcoming move to Playhouse Square last December, but Moulthrop shared new renderings and other details about the move recently with and The Plain Dealer.

The new renderings, prepared by the Cleveland office of DLR Group, emphasize the light, airy look of the new space, which has 16-foot-high ceilings and big display windows with curved corners.

“There is something so accessible about this space, which communicates something to the community we’ve never communicated before in our physical presence,’’ Moulthrop said during a walk-through.

Construction workers are now fitting out a 14,600-square-foot space in the club’s new home, with seating for 350, representing a 50% increase in capacity over its current location in the City Club Building at 850 Euclid Avenue, where it has spent the last 40 years.

The square footage will be the same before and after the move, but the club will allocate more of its footprint in its new home to its primary mission — hosting public forums.

A big lift

Built in 1924, the club’s upcoming new home was designed by the famed Cleveland architecture firm of Walker & Weeks, which also designed Severance Music Center in University Circle, home of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Although it’s just two stories high, the Woolworth building was built with massive, heavily-riveted steel columns designed to carry additional stories above it that never got built.

Those columns are coming in handy now. In order to create a column-free space with clear sightlines inside the club’s bigger new dining room, the DLR architects have decided to remove four of them from the center of the space.

In order to do that, the designers will transfer the structural load to a pair of giant trusses that will be placed on the building’s roof. The trusses will shift the load to other columns at the edge of the club’s dining room that are strong enough to carry extra weight.

The crane lift, scheduled for June 26, should be dramatic. As they raise the trusses into position, operators will need to avoid bashing the big Playhouse Square sign that rests atop the building, overlooking Euclid Avenue.

Adding to Playhouse Square’s history

In recent years, both floors of 1317 Euclid have been occupied by Dwellworks, which provides corporate and individual relocation services for businesses. Dwellworks has consolidated on the upper floor of the building.

In its new home, the City Club will become part of the ongoing story of Playhouse Square, the city’s theater district. Preservationists in the 1970s and ‘80s saved the area’s early 20th-century movie palaces and Vaudeville houses from destruction during the era of urban renewal and white flight.

In order to lure suburbanites downtown, which was then perceived as dangerous, the Playhouse Square Foundation built a large parking garage connected to the theater lobbies from behind, off Dodge Court. Visitors never had to set foot on Euclid Avenue.

Since then, Playhouse Square has assembled and curated a sizable portfolio of real estate around the neighborhood, where it has built a hotel and attracted tenants including restaurants and civic organizations including the United Way and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Northeast Ohio’s chamber of commerce.

The new City Club address is part of a row of buildings housing branches of Cleveland State University’s Art Gallery; Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and graduate programs in urban design and landscape architecture, and Ideastream, Cleveland’s public broadcaster.

Craig Hassall, Playhouse Square’s president and CEO since 2022, called the club a “top drawer’’ addition and said he would consider it an addition to the district’s collection of resident companies, including Great Lakes Theater, the Tri-C JazzFest, the Cleveland International Film Festival, DanceCleveland, and Cleveland Ballet.

“I personally love the fact that the City Club coming into the neighborhood will raise the importance of spoken word events,’’ Hassall said.

The club will add foot traffic and vitality, making Euclid Avenue, “more attractive and welcoming and a place you really want to hang out,” he said.

The club will have an impact on street life starting every Friday in August when it will hold its weekly forum outside on U.S. Bank Plaza, the triangular park between East 13th and East 14th on the south side of Euclid Avenue. Details will be shared on the club’s website,

Artistic footnote

The City Club’s move will be accompanied by one important change: The organization will not be bringing along its big, 1940 “Free Speech’’ mural by Cleveland artist Elmer Brown, one of the most important Black artists in the city’s history.

Reflecting the club’s racial reality before World War II, Brown painted the mural as a depiction of the club as an all-white institution. A solitary Black man, believed to represent the artist, is included in the image.

Moulthrop called the mural, which measures more than 8 feet high by 21 feet wide, “a product of its time,’’ that no longer communicates “the sense of belonging and inclusion that is at the heart of our work.”

To safeguard the artwork for posterity, the club has donated it to the Western Reserve Historical Society, which is planning to display it alongside information providing historical context.

“We love it, it’s just so much of its time,’’ Dennis Barrie, the veteran museum planner and administrator who serves as vice president of experience design for the historical society, said of the mural.

“I know why places like the City Club need to refresh their approach, but it’s our obligation to understand the past,’’ Barrie said.

The City Club will display a digital reproduction of the mural at its new home in Playhouse Square. Moulthrop said the club wants to acknowledge the mural “as a part of our history while creating a more inclusive space and making room for the stories still to be told.”

In a State of Access: Ohio Higher Education, 1945 – 1990 by Jonathan Tyler Baker

In a State of Access: Ohio Higher Education, 1945 – 1990
by Jonathan Tyler Baker, 2020, Doctor of Education, Miami University, Educational Leadership.
The link is here

or try this link

In a State of Access is a historical study about the way public higher education in Ohio became both generally accessible to nearly every citizen while also offering elite undergraduate and graduate programs. This project grapples with the question of how national, state and regional factors – from the mid-1940s through the end of the 20th century – influenced the way Ohio’s leaders viewed the purpose of public higher education and influenced whether Ohio’s leaders chose to focus on making public higher education more selective or accessible. State leaders initially balked at the idea of funding public higher education. When they did decide to make the investment, ideological battles, economic stagnation and the state’s budget deficit continually influenced how state leaders viewed the purpose of public higher education. As a result, state leaders never succeeded in building a system of public higher education that reflected a clearly defined, well-organized purpose. This dissertation is the first full-length study about contemporary public higher education in Ohio and one of the few case studies of any state’s system of higher education. As the public and politicians at the state and national level pay more attention to the accessibility of higher education, and the role of a college degree in a globalized, service economy, a case study of Ohio helps us to better understand why public higher education is still struggling with problems over access.

Anthony Pilla, Bishop of Cleveland Catholic Diocese for 26 Years, Dies at 88 by Sam Allard, CLE Scene 9/22/2021

Diocese of Cleveland

Anthony Pilla, Bishop of Cleveland Catholic Diocese for 26 Years, Dies at 88
by Sam Allard, Cleveland Scene 9/22/2021
The link is here article (firewall)
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, Cleveland native who guided Northeast Ohio Catholics for quarter-century, dies at 88
by David Briggs
The link is here



Video from “The Mike White Years by the Journalists Who Covered Him” Wednesday, October 21, 2020 7pm

The Mike White Years by the Journalists Who Covered Him
Wednesday, October 21, 7pm via Zoom
with panelists:
Brent Larkin, The Plain Dealer
Tom Beres WKYC-TV (retired)
Moderated by Mark Naymik, WKYC Channel 3 – Cleveland

The recording is here:

The 1990s in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio were molded by 3-term Mayor Michael R. White (1990-2002). Changes to the Cleveland Public Schools, Gateway stadium (and stadiums in general), the Browns, the airport, and many other decisions were made that are impacting the region to this day. Hear from the journalists who covered Mayor White as they look back 20 years later.

Sponsored by Cleveland History Center, Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland

Photo: Plain Dealer

Before Dimora and Russo, there was Gray: A look back at another Cleveland pay-to-pay corruption probe by Eric Heisig July 2, 2019

Before Dimora and Russo, there was Gray: A look back at another Cleveland pay-to-pay corruption probe
by Eric Heisig July 2, 2019

CLEVELAND, Ohio — It was one of the largest public corruption probes in Cleveland history. Allegations arose that influential people received tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, which turned into millions’ worth of government contracts.

It was also years before the local pay-to-pay political atmosphere came to light through another, more well-known probe into Cuyahoga County’s government.

The FBI’s investigation into Cleveland began in 2002 and led to convictions against eight people. Leading the pack was Nate Gray, a connected businessman and longtime confidant to former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White who was released last month from federal prison.

Read more here:
The link is here


Interview With George L. Forbes, Former Cleveland City Council President (1973 – 1989) – Video

 forbes-and-voinovichforbes_george_l_19791979 CSU

Left to right councilmen Richard Harmody, Michael Zone, George Forbes. 1964 CPL

George L. Forbes was the longest and perhaps most powerful City Council President in Cleveland history, serving from 1973 – 1989. He was interviewed for Teaching Cleveland Digital on August 21, 2013. This is part six of a multi-part interview with Mr. Forbes and covers the 1980s when he was President of Cleveland Council, his relationship with Mayor George Voinovich and his campaign for Mayor in 1989. Produced by Michael Baron. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Meagan Lawton, Interviewed by Brent Larkin.

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4
part 5
Part 6
© 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

MUSEUM RIGHT TO DROP MAY SHOW Plain Dealer March 4, 1995

March 4, 1995 | Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Author: STEVEN LITT | Page: 8E | Section: ARTS & LIVING | Column: ART CRITIC

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s annual juried exhibition of local art, has been the apex of local artistic accomplishment since it began in 1919. That’s exactly what has been wrong with it, and exactly why the museum is right to dump it.

Cleveland needs higher goals to which local artists can aspire.

The May Show played a vital role in nurturing generations of artists before and after World War II. But as artists have increasingly shown work in new commercial and nonprofit galleries, frame shops, theater lobbies, corporate offices, colleges and universities, the May Show’s raison d’etre evaporated. Instead of being a proud medium for the appreciation of local art, it became a tired vehicle for overexposure and redundancy.

Museum Director Robert P. Bergman, who came to Cleveland in 1993, has stated publicly for more than a year he would experiment with ways in which the museum exhibits local contemporary art. He said the May Show wasn’t sacrosanct. But it wasn’t until last week that he said the show was off for the near future.

His announcement was occasioned by artists who daily were calling Tom Hinson, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, to ask for May Show entry blanks, as they have every winter for decades. Predictably, many artists complained that the museum was forsaking them by canning the May Show. But it isn’t. Nor is it turning its back on contemporary art.

In August, the museum will host an exhibition on contemporary art inspired by the secular sainthood of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. Admittedly, the show is an attempt to piggyback on the Labor Day weekend opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. But it’s a welcome change after years in which the museum failed to devote major space to contemporary art from outside the Western Reserve.

In 1996, the city’s bicentennial year, the museum is planning a much-needed historical survey on art in the city from 1796 to 1945, tentatively titled “Transformations in Cleveland Art.” The show will include a catalog, which will be a major contribution to public understanding of the city’s art.

The museum is also planning a collaborative exhibition for 1996 with the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art and Spaces. Artists from the region, the nation and from other countries will be asked to create new works inspired by the city itself.

Exciting as they sound, these shows would not have been possible if the May Showwere still on the calendar. Budget cuts in 1992 limited the museum to four slots a year for major shows, one of which is devoted to contemporary art. Repeating the May Show ad infinitum would prevent the kind of experimentation Bergman wants to explore.

The next two years will give time for a debate on how the city’s leading arts institutions should serve the region’s artists. Without question, they have an obligation to nurture local talent. But the May Show is not the way.

All the show asked of artists was that they produce one or two good works a year – the limit they could display in the exhibition. By focusing attention thinly on a hundred or more artists, the show appealed to boosterism rather than deep understanding.

All the show asked of collectors was that they come and graze once a year. Apparently, this didn’t fuel a thriving commercial gallery scene, because the city doesn’t have one. Northeast Ohio has a generous supply of artists who want their work appreciated and scores of widely scattered exhibit venues. But the number of serious commercial galleries is minute. Rather than stimulate the local market, the museum may have hurt it by selling works out of the May Show.

For the museum, the show put curators and other jurors in a passive role unflattering for an institution that otherwise prides itself on intellectual rigor. The format required curators or jurors to choose the artworks from those submitted by artists who chose to submit. If the best artists didn’t submit anything, they remained invisible, and the audience remained none the wiser.

It could be argued that the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art and Spaces – two important nonprofit exhibit spaces that have emerged in the past 20 years – have filled the gap in contemporary art. They have, but only up to a point.

Spaces concentrates on emerging artists from around the region and the nation, which effectively duplicates the May Show’s primary function as the patron of local artistic talent searches.

The center also has focused attention on emerging local talent, although it does much more by organizing retrospective shows on midcareer artists and by staging ambitious theme shows.

But while the center’s ambitions are national in scope, it can’t afford to do contemporary shows on the order of the sprawling survey of German neo-expressionist painting mounted by the Toledo Museum of Art in the winter of 1988-89. Nor can the center aspire to the likes of the Guggenheim Museum’s Roy Lichtenstein retrospective, which the Wexner Center in Columbus will show next fall.

The Cleveland Museum of Art can, and should, host such exhibitions. Furthermore, it should organize its own contemporary shows, whether local, regional or national in scope, with the same scholarly standards it applies to the art of ancient Greece or 16th-century Japan.

It could be that the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art should be the new home of an annual or biannual survey of regional art. The center has the space, the staff, the resources, the central location and the parking. It also has a mission that could encompass an annual, biennial or triennial local survey show.

Whatever happens, the museum is wise to break the lockstep rhythm of a once prestigious annual show that has gone stale. Now it can go about the business of doing the exhibitions that only it can do.

Brent Larkin Writes about Lonnie Burten Jr. in 2016

Brent Larkin Writes about Lonnie Burten Jr.  11/16/2016
The full article is here
Councilman Lonnie Burten (center, with beard-Press Collection)

Excerpt below:
It was late morning on Nov. 29, 1984, when Jackson, David Donaldson and Sam Johnson were watching Councilman Lonnie Burten single-handedly tear down his boyhood home on East 38th Street in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood.

The home had been firebombed, most likely by some thugs who wanted to teach the crusading Burten a lesson.

Now city inspectors wanted the house demolished. And Burten, as was his way, was determined to do it himself.

“I remember this distinctly,” recalled Jackson, sitting at a table in his City Hall office. “Lonnie was standing next to a truck. We were talking, when he put his hands on the hood and laid his head on the truck.”

The friends gently put Burten in the back seat of a car and rushed him to St. Vincent Charity Hospital.

It was too late.

Lonnie Burten — Cleveland City Council’s rebel with a cause, a legend who came to power by defeating one of the shrewdest men to ever hold elected office in Cleveland (Charlie Carr), and who several years earlier had come within a whisker of unseating the most powerful council president in city history (George Forbes) — was dead of a heart attack at the young age of 40.

Burten’s seat on council went to Preston Terry III. Jackson, a lawyer with a job in the council clerk’s office, had no interest in it.

“I just wanted to help Lonnie,” recalled Jackson. “That was it. He was my friend. We shared a passion for life and an understanding of the situation we were in. I had no inclination for a life in politics, none whatsoever.”

Like all mayors, Jackson has his shortcomings. But he will never forget where he came from.

Nor will he forget one of the best friends he’s ever had.

“You don’t have many friends in life. You have people you know. Lonnie was a friend. And if he had not died, I would have not been a councilman, let alone a mayor.”


Mayor Michael R. White Interview, Parts One – Five (video)

white-celebrates-gateway  mike-white-1989

Part One Link is Here

Part Two Link is Here

Part Three Link is here

Part Four Link is here

Part Five Link is here

Michael R. White was Mayor of Cleveland from 1990-2002. He was interviewed for Teaching Cleveland Digital on July 24, 2013. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Jerry Mann, Interviewed by Michael Baron. © 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

Part one covers Mayor White’s formative years in the Cleveland neighborhood of Glenville, living in Cleveland during the election of Carl Stokes in 1967 and White’s election as the first African-American Student Union President at The Ohio State University in 1973.

Part two covers his work with Columbus Republican Mayor Tom Moody, his return to Cleveland, working with and learning from Council President George Forbes and his election to Cleveland City Council.

Part three covers the 1980’s in Cleveland when Mayor George Voinovich and Council President George Forbes were in power. White then speaks about being elected Mayor of Cleveland, and his first challenge as Mayor: the baseball team wants a new ballpark, so White spearheads the Gateway development.

From Wikipedia:

White, who grew up in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, began his political career early on during his college years at Ohio State University, when he protested against the discriminatory policies of the Columbus public bus system and was subsequently arrested. White then ran the following year for Student Union President and won, becoming the college’s first black student body leader. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration degree in 1974.

After college, White returned to Cleveland. He served on Cleveland City Council as an administrative assistant from 1976 to 1977 and later served as city councilman from the Glenville area from 1978 to 1984. During his time in city council, White became a prominent protégé of councilman George L. Forbes. White then represented the area’s 21st District in the Ohio Senate, serving as a Democratic assistant minority whip.

In 1989, White entered the heavily-contested race for mayor of Cleveland, along with several other notable candidates including Forbes, Ralph J. Perk Jr. (the son of former Cleveland mayor, Ralph J. Perk), Benny Bonanno (Clerk of the Cleveland Municipal Court), and Tim Hagan (Cuyahoga County commissioner). Out of all the candidates Forbes and White made it to the general election. It was the first time two Black candidates would emerge as the number one and two contenders in a primary election in Cleveland history.

In Cleveland, incumbent Mike White won re-election against council president George Forbes, who ran as the candidate of black power and the public sector unions. Angering the unions by eliminating some of the city’s exotic work rules, White presented himself as pro-business, pro-police and an effective manager above all, arguing that “jobs were the cure for the ‘addiction to the mailbox,'” referring to welfare checks. [1]

White ended up winning the race receiving 81 percent of the vote in predominantly white wards and 30 percent in the predominantly black wards.


Teaching Cleveland Digital