Cleveland Centennial Celebrations

January 13, 2016
Cleveland Centennial Celebrations

Several CLE attractions and organizations are celebrating 100 years.

Denise Koeth

Early in the 20th Century, Cleveland was booming.

In fact, following the Civil War up to that time, the city was a manufacturing and industrial leader of the nation. According to Angie Lowrie, director of operations at the Western Reserve Historical Society's Cleveland History Center, this growth led to abundant wealth, which in turn, turned tycoons -- steel, oil, rubber, etc. -- into philanthropists.

The explosion in wealth and philanthropy made Cleveland culturally rich, a trait from which residents and visitors alike still benefit today. Closing out 2015 and entering 2016, there are a number of local institutions celebrating centennial anniversaries.

Here's your chance to brush up on some Cleveland history and plan to take advantage of special centennial events.

Karamu House

In 1915, Russell and Rowena Jelliffe founded the Playhouse Settlement at the corner of East 38th St. and Central Ave., creating a place where people of different racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds could meet and bond. The institution quickly became a magnet for many of the best African-American artists of the day and was a place that dancers, printmakers, actors and writers could practice their crafts.

Renamed Karamu House in 1941 -- Karamu in Swahili means "a place of joyful gathering" -- today the facility hosts several theater performances annually, as well as youth and cultural arts programs. As part of its centennial celebration for the 2015-16 season, a pack of tickets for four separate performances on the main stage is available for $100.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

F.A. Seiberling, creator of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., and his family moved into their new Akron estate on Christmas Day in 1915. Now, 100 years later, Stan Hywet Hall -- with five historic buildings and 10 historic gardens on 70 acres -- stands very much as it did back then, offering visitors a detailed glimpse into the past.

The centennial celebration took place in August 2015 and featured live music, vintage cars, vintage base ball and other activities. Following its annual winter break, the estate reopens April 1, just in time to enjoy the arrival of spring in the gardens.

Cleveland Play House

Founded in 1915, Cleveland Play House was America's first professional regional theater. It has since produced more than 100 world and American premieres and has welcomed more than 12 million audience members who have attended some 1,600 productions.

While the extravagant three-day centennial celebration took place in October 2015, there is still plenty of time to score tickets for a production in the award-winning theater's 100th season. To kick off 2016, check out performances of "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Mountaintop," "Mr. Wolf" and more.

Call & Post

The Cleveland Call (established in 1916 by Cleveland inventor Garrett Morgan) and the Cleveland Post (established in 1920) merged to form the Call & Post in 1929. Owned and published by Don King since 1998, the Call & Post serves Ohio's African-American community as a weekly newspaper highlighting Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. The paper has received recognition from the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the Press Club of Cleveland for its excellence in journalism.

Pick up a copy of this historical newspaper, published every Wednesday, for 50 cents at any Cleveland newsstand.

Cleveland Cultural Gardens

The Cultural Gardens, which stretch three miles along Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and East Blvd. near University Circle, are in the midst of a year-long centennial celebration. The 29 established gardens (eight more are in the works) that honor Cleveland's rich diversity will host special, individual events throughout 2016.

April 14 will bring the Centennial Gala, which celebrates the exact 100-year anniversary of the dedication of the first garden, the British garden. An expanded summer concert series will take place throughout different gardens. The year-long event will conclude in August with One World Day, which will feature activities, performers, a parade and more throughout each of the gardens.

Cleveland City Hall

For a sample of Cleveland's finest architecture, check out City Hall, which was dedicated on July 4, 1916. The granite-encased steel structure, at the corner of East 6th St. and Lakeside Ave., features a grand center hall flanked with massive marble pillars rising three stories to an arched ceiling.

City Hall was one of a group of similar buildings erected in Cleveland in the early 20th Century, when urban planners set the goal of building public structures of similar design, incorporated by open spaces or malls. Similar structures in the city include the old Post Office and Federal Court House, the Cuyahoga County Court House, Cleveland Public Library, the Board of Education building and Public Auditorium - all located close to one another and perfect for a self-guided walking tour.

Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the true cornerstones of the city's culture scene, opened its doors on June 6, 1916. To mark 100 years, the museum will host a series of celebrations, which started in the waning hours of 2015 with a New Year's Eve event. 2016 will bring a members-only birthday celebration, official CMA birthday party, centennial gala and the extensive centennial festival weekend -- a two-day music and arts festival with special programming, local artists and a performance by the Cleveland Orchestra.

Four special exhibitions have been planned for the museum's 100th year, beginning with "Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse," which ran through Jan. 5. Following throughout 2016 will be "Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt," "Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt," and "Art and Stories from Mughal India."

National Park Service

The National Park Service turns 100 on Aug. 25, 2016, which is a big deal nationwide. Here in the Cleveland area, there's a local reason to celebrate, as our own Cuyahoga Valley National Park gets in on the centennial action.

While details of local centennial events are not yet available, they will be announced in the future as part of NPS' "Find Your Park" centennial campaign. In the meantime, enjoy all that the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has to offer among its 33,000 acres, including 125 miles of hiking trails; the 85-mile, multi-purpose Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail; and the vintage Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which offers a relaxing and unique perspective of the park.

In addition to the centennial celebrations, other major anniversaries are being celebrated by NASA Glenn Research Center (75 years), the James A. Garfield Monument in Lake View Cemetery (125 years), and The Arcade Cleveland (125 years). Cleveland's history is rich, and its future is promising with so many notable, long-standing organizations contributing to it.

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