University Circle from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, located in the city of Cleveland, is bounded by Wade Park Ave. on the north; E. 105th on the west; and the RTA tracks on the east and south sides. It is a 488-acre complex that includes many of Cleveland’s major cultural, educational, religious, and social-service institutions in a parklike setting. It is the only cluster of its kind in the world. The area was first settled in 1799 with the establishment of NATHANIEL DOAN†’s tavern at what is now E. 107th St. and EUCLID AVE.. but was then called DOAN’S CORNERS. Univ. Circle began to take shape in the 1880s. Western Reserve Univ. moved its campus from Hudson, OH, to Euclid Ave. in 1883. Case School of Applied Science moved from downtown Cleveland to a site next to WRU in 1885 (eventually to be federated with its neighbor in 1967 as CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY.). In the same decade, JEPTHA H. WADE† donated to the City of Cleveland a large tract of land that adjoined the WRU campus, stipulating that the land be used as a public park with an art gallery. The name of the area was taken from a streetcar stop on a line running on Euclid to a turnaround at E. 107th known as Univ. Circle. The presence of the colleges and the beauty of the area attracted other institutions. The WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY moved from PUBLIC SQUARE to the Circle in 1898 and then relocated in 1938-1941 to a second Circle location in the adjoining Hay and Hanna houses on East Blvd. In 1916 the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART was built behind the Wade Park Lagoon in a corner of WADE PARK. The Garden Ctr. of Greater Cleveland was located at the edge of the lagoon from the 1920s until the 1960s, when a new facility was constructed over the Wade Park ravine, once the home of the bears at Cleveland’s first zoo. Two major additions were made to the Circle in 1931. SEVERANCE HALL, the home of the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA, was constructed at the corner of Euclid and East Blvd. UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS CASE MEDICAL CENTER on Adelbert Rd. was dedicated that same year.
Between 1900-18 the Wade family developed their remaining land into a residential area. Many of the people who moved to the area were trustees of Circle institutions and generous benefactors, which was perhaps the most important factor in the development of the Circle’s unique character. After World War II, the next generation of Circle benefactors and directors moved to the suburbs, and some of the surrounding neighborhoods began to deteriorate. Mrs. Wm. G. Mather (ELIZABETH RING IRELAND MATHER†) donated the seed money to form the Univ. Circle Development Foundation (UCDF) and to commission a Boston urban-planning firm to design a development plan for the Circle. The Adams, Howard, & Greeley Plan of 1957 laid down guidelines for Circle institutions to work together to provide for future needs that would be harmonious with the Circle’s character. While institutions supported the plan, many who worked and lived in the Circle, especially WRU students and faculty, were opposed to parts of it, particularly a proposed road that would carry traffic along the perimeter of the Circle. In 1970 UCFD was reorganized as UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, INC. (UCI) The emphasis was less on new construction and more on adapting use of older structures. Many of the homes in the Circle have been used to house agencies such as the Arthritis Foundation, the Gestalt Institute, and the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT. In 1994 UCI had approx. 80 different member and associate member organizations in Univ. Circle or close by that served the physical, cultural, and spiritual needs of Greater Cleveland.