Is Art House Our House? The Future

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 04/01/2007 - 22:27.


From Norm Roulet:  I've been observing from afar a neighborhood-centric battle over historic preservation and character. Many activists - responsible neighborhood citizens - in one of our struggling Cleveland neighborhoods - Brooklyn Village - are very upset about Art House vs. Our House. This is a battle of a powerful arts non-profit acting either against or for the community they claim to serve. The question is, are they against or for... or even of this neighborhood?


Art House wants to demolish a valuable historic structure - The Wirth House - to add parking and "green space", as I understand. Above is the front and side of Art House, which is in a Quonset Hut (above), on a very poorly conceived property full of parking, without any real "green space".

The Quonset Hut is next to a poorly updated and somewhat butchered historic mansion called The Wiirth House, for the original owner. I understand Art House owns this structure, and it is a shame it is not better respected, as it is an excellent "ornate Queen Anne". The history of the structure is detailed here, on "Save Our Land."


The Wirth House has one of the most beautiful slate roofs I can imagine. In the picture above you see that on all that roof space there is only one slate missing - this is a perfect roof... at 130 years old. Replacement value would probably be like $100,000. The wood trim is wonderful and the siding even looks good - most is beneath other siding placed on top of the original. The newer siding should be removed and the older siding should be restored. The trim should be restored.


The windows have been replaced with some nasty modern windows - high efficiency replicas of the originals should be milled. Photos should be consulted to replicate the front porch and balcony, if it had one.  The side porch is very nice, as you can see, although modified and unkempt. But the structure seems very solid and easy to restore.

While I can see where Art House may not want to invest in renovating this fine historic property, to demolish it is inexcusable. Either Art House should get aggressive about rallying support to help them renovate Wirth House, or Art House should find someone to do something complimentary with the property - say a B&B. Even if the insides are gutted, the property will fix up into a showplace... the showplace of the community.


To say the property needs better greenspace is an understatement. But Art House seems to be the ones who didn't plan for that on their current site. Every inch of the active property is paved. Next door is a big paved lot for an apartment building. Across the street is a big school lot. I don't know if there are times when people are fighting for spaces but it seems with all those parking spaces some compromise could be found to share. 


 While I can't say I'm blown away by Quonset Huts, the current Art House building does have some charm. It should probably be preserved - I'd suggest they treat the property as a campus, or find a complimentary resident or busines who can share it with them. The Wirth House is worth saving.



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How about a coffee and tea house in Wirth House?

When I think old victorians in old neighborhoods, I picture a hip tea and coffee place - maybe with used books - ice cream - something cleap but hip - wifi... open mike - and have the city allow parking along Dennison, on the street, if they don't already - make this more of a fun neighborhood arts area... more than a hut.

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Grandparents with the kids

I hold out hope that the trustees and administration at Art House will see the advantage of Wirth House as a landmark.  Coffee shop, ice cream, wi-fi, visiting artist's residence, co-op programs, installation space...the possibilities are endless.  Art House has a historic crossroads location.  Denison and Pearl were some of the earliest roads, Indian trails along the Big Creek Valley.  We have to capitalize on our assets and this history...this story speaks to us. 

Today was Zoo Day/Free Mondays--Business interests in Brooklyn Village (I like that--unifying moniker) want to centralize our identity around the Zoo and it makes sense.  Families come from all over our region to visit the Zoo.  What do they see?  What other regional attractions are available to visit  (HELLO-Honey Hut!!!)? 

Grandparents with kids.   I remember the memories my grandparents created for me.  My grandparents took photos of us kids in front of beautiful houses. Visiting historic sites, picnics, ice cream at the old shop in Chagrin Falls.    We have an opportunity here to create a lasting memory.  Art House needs to seize the opportunity. 

the hut was to go, originally

Norm, years ago, the plan was for the hut to be torn down and the Wirth House to be renovated. As a matter of fact, Wirth House is what gave the Art House campaign and subsequent nonprofit corporation it's original name; it was not called Art Hut because the hut was not to survive, and it wasn't such a good rallying point for raising money and community consciousness. It was a big sales job back then, and in retrospect, we can see that it was a "bait and switch."

Denison is only three lanes wide, actually--two car lanes with a streetcar in the middle, and it really can't--or shouldn't--accommodate any parking. All other sections of Denison and Harvard have been coverted back to the three-lane configuration, with the exception of the area we're talking about now.

There's a good amount of parking available across the street at the Denison School lot, and the Wirth House is directly on the bus line for the 79 and the 807, and a couple of blocks from the 20, the 35, and the 50 running up and down Pearl.

It's a great location for a coffee house--especially with the quonset hut gone, as was the original plan.

Art Hut.

501 (c) not alllowed.  no

501 (c) not alllowed.  no other revenue only fund raising.



are you really sure?

If nonprofits can't have commercial ventures, then how do such things as the Museum of Modern Art having a thriving gift-catalogue business and gift shop come about?

They can and they can sell

They can and they can sell goods without sales tax as well, but there must be bounderies and that requires tax experts.  It also requires approval of the board of trusstees.  The CMA sells annuities.


Its good that you filled in all the details, it make everything clearer.


I should research better,

Who are these people? Art House: what now?

Really?  How do they manage to get the PreservationOhio site to drop their nomination of Wirth House (note:the Breuer is still listed) as one of the most endangered historic buildings in Ohio?  Who are these people?  Why are they hell-bent on the systematic destruction of my neighborhood?  Really?  Why? 
The administration recently turned down Councilman Cummins offer to assist with a campus that incorporates all the existing buildings, and, still provide parking.  What "drives" this organization to justify their funding and their very existence, generated by local dollars, to destroy one of the few remaining historic buildings this neighborhood has to distinguish it from the blandness of the suburbs and the fake recreations of developers?  What is their motive?  Is this someone's idea of a social experiment?

Art House - trailhead for Bike Network in CLE

To me - if I was a kid- this would be the definition of summer fun. How do we define similar day-trips in CLE ?

When the Red Line Greenway is complete - families can put their bikes on RTA Redline  - get off at W. 65th and ride down to the Lakefront Cleveland Metroparks- or head up to Denison and get to the Metroparks Cleveland Metroparks Zoo --or RIDE downtown or to the West Side market - free from worry that their kids will be hit by a car.

Families staying downtown can pick up a bike share and ride Red Line Greenway out of Tower City to W. 65th to connect with Lakefront and destinations west.

West side folks can ride Red Line Greenway downtown and put their bikes on GCRTA redline for destinations in University Circle.

So many ways to leverage this trail for FAMILIES...start by saving Wirth House!



Take a look at George's comments on remodeling and renovation on BFD (but finding a link to the post defies me). George also has flicker photos of the interior gut.  A big heap of knob and tube wiring. George has a few questions about how to find competent contractors, and how to adapt old homes to new interiors.   I have gutted out and renovated many buildings myself.  I have lots of photos like George’s, and over the years my outlook on what should be renovated and what should be knocked down has evolved - towards knock.

But here's the big deal.  As energy costs escalate, existing structures are facing a huge hurtle which did not exist 40 or 50 years ago when oil was 2 cents a gallon.  Old homes are not, and cannot be, insulated to proper standards.  4 inch studs on outside walls are not even allowed in New England states anymore.  Exterior walls need to be at least R30 and for that a 6 inch wall cavity is minimum. 

Recently the PD had a photo of a house going up in a Cleveland suburb.  The exterior walls were 4 inch studs. The PD story was about growth and sprawl and how everyone wants a “new” home with yard, garage and so on.    My take away from the PD was that that brand new house will be wasting energy and causing accelerated global warming for its entire life span.  Our legislature allows this – becaue they have not implemented modern building codes.  The buyer doesn’t now the difference – because we aren’t taught a thing in school about what will be our largest purchase in our life – our home.    Thin walls also limit sound attenuation – allowing highway noise to migrate into your bedroom.

Brick chimneys are obsolete.  They consume a huge amount of floor space on every floor they penetrate  (floor space costs $100 to $200 PSF), and are not needed by modern appliances.  The brick chimney in George’s flicker photos has a severe gravity defying dog leg – leaning and placing un-designed lateral pressures on the floors and causing the brickwork to open up on the side of the chimney in tension.   George’s chimney is typical of older buildings – but would never be allowed to be constructed by today’s building codes.


Foundations are another problem area.  Un-insulated and drafty fieldstone, brick, block foundations – they aren’t as sound or stable as a insulated cast concrete wall with a little reinforcement in it - causing heat loss, global warming, and a saggy building.


Installing pv solar panels, solar hot water, wind turbines, etc is very difficult (aesthetically and structurally) on older buildings. 


Modern fire codes are nearly impossible to meet in a renovation.  So a renovated home is not as safe in terms of fire spread as a properly built newer home built to the BOCA code .


Lead paint inside and out on older homes (no one knows this better than Norm), energy inefficient windows all need replacement with double or triple glazed insulated frame windows.  On and on.


Floors are often not level, and need new footings, columns, steel beams in the basement and then the support line chased all the way up through the house.  Plumb, Level , Square is a thing of the past in the renovation trade.  Basement ceiling heights are usually inadequate – modern dwellers have had too much milk borne vitamin D and are much taller than homeowners were 75 years ago.  So often the basement floor needs to be lowered, the foundation walls underpinned and all the basement footings and columns replaced to make a renovated basement usable.  That is a costly, huge amount of work.  Not doing it means our homes are not efficient uses of their envelope.


On and on, the electrical and the plumbing rip out and replacement are only part of the issue. 


I now believe that if the building doesn’t have a high concentration of architectural and/or historic uniqueness – that its romanticism should not be the factor which determines whether it stays or is knocked down. Saving all of Levitt town only harms the planet. 


And lot’s of those Victorians have to get knocked too…

the bottom line

Jeff, there is a problem here with what a demolition does to the efforts of all of us here over the past 30 years--it leaves a gaping hole in the streetscape, and this is one of our older and more significant properties, the Wirth House. We need no more holes--we just had two new holes served up to us on Denison compliments of our local development corporation, and I know that one did in fact circumvent the review process we've had in place to prevent such atrocities. We have a couple of historic districts over here, we have our own historical society, we can participate in the state and federal tax credits available for sensitive rehabilitation of historic properties, we are a lovely park neighborhood on the edge of the big park, the Zoo, and the Big Creek, and we have worked hard at preservation here since the 1970s.

Two of our current showplaces over on Archwood and on Mapledale were on the condemnation list 20 and 30 years ago. Many others have been brought back from being boarding houses. Many of us have significant investments of time and money in our own properties. We know how to do rehab and restoration over here, and the new costs aren't much to worry about at all--we have ideas about adaptive reuse that make many things more possible than they would seem.

Also, when we get together in person the next time, I have stories to share about appropriations of block grant funds that will make you wonder about how this whole Art House/Wirth House conundrum got to where it is in the first place. There had been a curious lack of oversight until this past council election changed the patronage dynamic and the cash flow.

Norm, thanks for giving this important issue an airing. I am hoping that somehow we can all work together to do the responsible and sensitive restoration that was promised years ago, when the property transferred away from Peter Hasek Glass.


Tim and Laura,

I'm not saying knock down Wirth.  I respect neighborhoods which want their history intact - that's where I want to live.  But boy are there headaches with old wood buildings. 

I have never had a new car or a new home and I love vacant, abandoned and broken glass buildings.  And it's true, new houses most often have no character, offering only steril space. 

How about a middle ground where the cosmetics - the shingles etc. - are pulled off the old and then installed on the new structure - like a Hollywood set without an open back. 

When I get a minute, I will write up the headaches with new buildings - flooding basements (many new houses are built as infill in areas which historically flood - the oldtimers knew this, but the newcomers don't and get taken), carcinogenic formaldahyde fumes from exterior chipboard and plywood and rug glue, - I've been there too...

You gotta accept what you've got

I've rehab'd many places, both by hand and as developer. You need to be real about it.... dive in and be done with it, all at once. The Wirth House is empty and ready to roll - a very cool project for a volunteer corps with a vo-tech school. I've been able to do a total historic landmark mansion gut job rehab - 1862 - with new foundation and replacing many walls, with new hvac systems, wiring, sheetrock, bathrooms, etc,... with all necessary code and restoration, and millwork to match original, with architecture and engineering, for $50/sq ft - a good strip down repaint and fix up can be done for far less - easy to spend more. With the Wirth House, it could go either way. What shocked me was the great slate roof... this place has been maintained over the last century+ - and the clean lines... there has been little settling in 120+ years, so this was well built. The materials back then were amazing so strip out anything added since the turn of the last century and enjoy wide floorboards, thick timbers, high ceilings... windows are gone but there are many good sized openings. All that has to be redone - will run over $100,000 but be well worth it.

How can we get inside? Do we need to petition for access?

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we've been petitioning now for a couple of years

We in the neighborhood have asked repeatedly these past few years to see for ourselves. A number of us have a good deal of hands-on experience. Personally, I was in on the total re-do of Harvard Hall in Cambridge back in 1969 and on an insensitive makeover of a townhouse on Soley Street, at the foot of the Bunker Hill Monument, in the same year. I have experience in Atlanta and Cleveland as well. New England seems to hold restoration most dear, and they have been rewarded for it economically.

Lots of others around here have brought houses back from the condemnation stage--we know the pros and the cons. Yet we have not been allowed access to Wirth House, and I'm well past the point where I would trust them to serve the broader community interests. I don't have confidence in their motives, nor do I have any expectation that they will exercise good judgment. I also doubt whether any of them on the board have the depth and breadth of experience of the rest of us in the neighborhood.

They're not forthcoming, nor have they been in the past, on anything except the fact that they want more money.



            Thanks for bringing another perspective to this discussion.      Your comments about what goes into restoring that old Victorian almost sounds like the very words Sheryl and her staff spoke of with what I perceived as very heavy hearts - when they had gotten jacked and jerked around regarding renovations funding, and had to make the decision with their board to ask to demolish. 

            I also believe it was Susan (I think) that made the point about ArtHouse's work with students.  I can't begin to tell you how innovative, open, accepting, and willing to work with kids of all stripes Sheryl Hoffman and her staff have always been. 


            As to the Quonset hut.  I'm not sure they built it, rather they inherited, I do believe, and put that facade on it to make it a bit better. I could be wrong, but I thought that was what I remember about it.

            I have a fairly close relationship with the ArtHouse staff, and let me assure you, they are far, far, FAR removed from being a “powerful” institution.  They are much more like a barely making it, struggling institution.

            As to the old Victorian.  If you knew how many rounds of support letters, letter campaigns, appeals that I have part of to assist ArtHouse in trying to get support and funding to save that Victorian - which years back, they actual did work out of - until it became far to structurally UNsafe and UNsound, that they had to move out - you might be take a different view point.  It was only until recently that ArtHouse has had to come to the place of abandoning the idea of saving their original "home". 


In my dealings with them, ArtHouse may be a small, "poor" by comparison, arts organization, but I LOVE working with them and developing and supporting their programming for kids.  Like Susan (or who ever it was) said, it's the WORK that they do that is the real important stuff.  They are AWESOME !!!  They have worked with my own massive and very often difficult bureaucracy to come up with all kinds of alternatives and options to make good things happen for kids.  They don’t look for what’s wrong or can’t be done, but rather the ArtHouse staff is always full of “let’s try this.”  It’s the work that that they do, and the attitudes that they have about kids, people and life, that makes me defend them.  Please don't jump to conclusions about their motives.  Or assume that they are flippant about this decision.  That is NOT what I've experienced from them over the past 4 years.

            And as to the documents, ordinances, city resolutions, etc.  Please be mindful that often bureaucracies make public what documents they want to make themselves look innocent.  There were a LOT of false promises, including promises of funding or support to get funding, that got switched at the 11th hour, and then denied in the first light of day.  There is far more, and another side to this story, then may first apparent.


And the artists that hang out, and work at ArtHouse … I want ‘em all to move to East Cleveland.  They are so cool !!!  Get to know them.  SUPPORT them.  Join ‘em.  You’ll be glad you did.

let's not muddy the waters here, KMacK

Despite the fact that Art House has a socially admirable mission, working with kids and artists and so forth, we cannot allow that to obscure the fact that the Art House board and staff have broken faith with our local community over here. They advertised to renovate Wirth House/Art House, we gave them block grant funds to do it (actually, the councilwoman at the time, Merle Gordon, engineered the transfer, using the LDC as intermediary), and we also supported them with Ward 15 funds just until this year. We, the Archwood-Denison/Brooklyn Centre community, have a huge investment in Art House and in what they said they were going to do. Now, they renege on their promise, saying they can't perform, that things are just too difficult.


Given that, perhaps the proper thing to do is for them to give the property back to the community that made possible its acquisition in the first place.


The bottom line is that we did not give Art House the kind of funds we did just to have them turn around and waste a community asset.


We could have done a lot of other things with the money for the benefit of all.


Please, let's not let muddled thinking confound the issue and compound the problem. If you have facts and numbers, then come forth with them. Otherwise, lay off the feel-good pleas and the innuendo about how Art House is on the receiving end of massive amounts of perfidy and injustice.


Furthermore, we all need to be aware that the Art House board and staff have continued to waste the Wirth House asset since they decided they needed to rid themselves of it. This is not proper stewardship of what we as a community granted to them. We thought we had picked a responsible organization to support, and we were wrong.

Well said

Well said Tim. KMaCK doesn't know who to believe at this point, but I ask her to put herself in our shoes (actually our homes) and she will perhaps know what it feels like to see the positive elements of a neighborhood destroyed.  I know she can relate.  East Cleveland suffers from some serious negative perception issues.  Well, so does our neighborhood.  And I feel like screaming every time someone accentuates the negative.

Good point - protect your own neighborhoods first

Point well taken about your lenses as residents of the 25th / Denision neighborhood.  YOUR experiences HAVE to come first.  And yes, your very right, I do have to, and am (but I'm not going to loose any sleep over it either) now questioning who to believe.  YOU guys live there and have more - or at least a different kind of experience then I have.  So I'll butt out and back off and let you work out your details about what to do with the house.  I'll stick to programing.

All informed perspectives should be heard

KMaCK I think you bring valuable perspectives to this discussion and I have the same impressions about ArtHouse, living outside the neighborhood. It seems the perspectives missing from this discussion are any advocates for the current ArtHouse strategy. It is time to make this issue personal - perhaps someone associated with AtHouse can add to the community perspective... does anyone know of any place online where anyone from ArtHouse is sharing their perspectives on tearing down the Wirth House? Anyone in favor of this course of action speaking up... er, writing up in public? Has anyone contact the many, many foundations supporting ArtHouse to challenge their funding and spending strategy and support of this path of action and ask for Foundation support of ArtHouse only if it will better serve the community... follow the money and put the funders heads on the line, personally.

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Section 106 review for Wirth House

Consulting parties will be given a 6 p.m. meeting at the Brooklyn Branch of Cleveland Public Library.  The date is still fuzzy.  July 12th or July 17th.  I will provide clarification as soon as I get it. 

Really great to see Councilman Cummins posting

I heard there was a very cool new councilman in town - Brian Cummins - and he proved it by posting to REALNEO. I looked at his bio on the Cleveland Council website and was blown away. My grandmother was in the Peace Corps, to which the councilman dedicated much of his life, and that tells me a lot. I expect great things of this man, not only for his ward but for helping build stronger community representation for each neighborhood in Cleveland by leading by example. Posting here is a great demonstration of his progressive leadership and I hope this is the beginning of something powerful for the people of Cleveland and the region. Anyone ever seen another Cleveland councilperson alone and naked in the blogsphere?

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the new Ward 15 Newsletter

Norm, we also have a new Ward 15 Newsletter over here that's truly useful. I just saw it yesterday. Brian deserves encouragement in producing more like it. He begins his by trotting out the CDBG (block grant) funding breakdown since this time last year; we've never had this transparency before, and I am wondering how many other councilmen and women have provided the same numbers to their constituents.


 He also put a lot of time and effort into hosting the Lincoln Institute  dog-and-pony show over here, at the Zoo. I understand he also is the only one of the entire council who did not vote for the tax abatement. Over here, we're sensitive to the artificial premium this abatement adds to the sales price of mediocre construction and the added tax burden it spreads around to all the rest of us who intentionally live in older homes with superior construction and intrinsic value.


We're waiting for the Ward 15 Newsletter to get an on-line edition so we can bring it into the mix, just as we do other content. It will do well.

As we said during the last election, it all begins in Ward 15, and that's coming to bear.

good to know Brian Cummins is tech savvy

This is about the best news I have heard. Not only that WVIZ producer Dennis Knowles looks to realneo for arts news (and I sent the link to the Cleveland Arts Prize 2007 to Dave De'Oreo, Around Noon producer in response to a request for information on the artists as an everything- you-need-to-know news source), but that someone who is elected and can enter the hallowed chamber to cast a vote has entered the blogosphere.

Faster than a speeding silver bullet, this region's blogosphere is where the action is, Brian, and if your colleagues at City Hall don't know it, send them a link. Welcome to the forum for good ideas and a discussion of the "region" that require's only a small amount of fossil fuels to engage.

And thanks to Norm for directing this welcome to Brian in this particular thread. People all over Northeast Ohio are looking at Wirth House. It may be even more important than it appears locally...

Follow the money

Actually--to follow up on Norm's line of reasoning--most of the money to fund Art House has come from the council office and local CDC.  Under Merle Gordon and briefly Emily Lipovan--Art House had free rein and was given the green light on anything they wanted.  Brian, as the CDC executive director at the time, had to kow-tow and follow the orders and commands of the CDC board, which continues to be hand-picked to avoid any real public involvement and accountability (and which includes Sheryl Hoffman's husband Abe Bruckman). 

So now, as we go into the Section 106 review, the residents, who signed up as consulting parties, can only really delay the inevitable (although every rotten, sneaky  trick in the book has been employed to shut us out and you would think that would trigger a federal investigation)---unless Brian Cummins basically says to the Art House board--you either change your course of action or you're through.   I hope that it doesn't come to an ultimatum, but there has not been any creative promise shown by the Art House board to date.   We continue to say--give us something to be excited about. 

 I would like to see Brian rescue this mess.  But, alas he may not be able to change their agenda, if as I suspect, Art House has already been guaranteed a large chuck of the Issue 18 monies....Would be nice to hear from them though.  Tell me how wrong I am.

Too aggressive thats is all,

Too aggressive thats is all, many agree that he house is significant as the charter of the Art House as well.  You go wrong when you attack them personally, that does not help your case. 

Maybe you should focus of the 106 review at this point?    Is it historic and is it protected?  Not only in your mind…but also in the language of the regulations. 

Please read

Please read this letter from the State Historic Preservation Office.  To his credit, our current council representative Brian Cummins sent this to the residents concerned about Wirth House.   His predecessors would not have done the same

Understand my rage

Dear KMaCK--It sounds like you work for a non-profit...and that you qualified your statement with some uncertainty when you wrote"... almost sounds like the very words Sheryl and her staff spoke of with what I perceived as very heavy hearts - when they had gotten jacked and jerked around regarding renovations funding, and had to make the decision with their board to ask to demolish. "  

I work with a non-profit that also has a very old building on its hands--a buiding that has seen much more vandalism and abuse than Wirth House (Henninger House/West Creek Preservation Committee).  We certainly don't blame foundations/council/state for the decisions we make regarding how the building is maintained or not maintained.  Sheryl Hoffman knows how to write grants and she knows there are plenty of funding sources that can be tapped to renovate Wirth House.  She and her board are well aware of the facts.  If they spent half the energy and effort they put into working the system for demolition, they would have a restored building by now.  Well, maybe not restored (afterall Henninger is crawling along, but please look at the progress that one full time staff member and one-half time staff member has made to the house with grants from OHS, Ohio and Erie Canal Association, NPS assistance and significantly with help from the community) but at least make an effort that shows a commitment to our future.  What type of neighborhood do you feel "looks" functional?   When I see that a homeowner or a business makes the significant effort it takes to restore a building (or to build something inspirational), I feel good. When I see a weedstrewn vacant lot or yet another asphalt desert, I feel sick.  It is that simple.

One other bit of logic that needs to be restated.  I own a house and I had an inspection when I bought my house.  I later found more costly repairs not revealed by the inspection....actually about $10,000 dollars worth of repairs.  Now, reconsider your own home purchase.  You used your own money.  Now, consider purchasing a home with federal dollars.  Would you be less inclined to care about the state of the property?  Evidently, Art House did not care about the state of Wirth House, when they bought it.  It was okay to buy and pass inspection when they used your tax dollars to purchase it.  So, now it is not okay and they again want to use your tax dollars to tear it down.  Are you MAD???  I worked on the paperwork to purchase the Henninger House in Parma with your tax dollars.   We received federal transportation enhancement funds to purchase Henninger House.  Is Henninger House in worse shape than Wirth House??  You bet it is.  What would the community say to West Creek Preservation Committee if we said--you know what?  We were careless and stupid in using your tax dollars to purchase this house.  It's beyond repair.  Now, we're going to screw you over twice and use your tax dollars to tear it down.  Understand my rage???

understand my rage

Why I am mad.

1344 reads know why

This is a great archive of perspectives and information on this matter - a very local matter being discussed broadly - and I think this is an excellent way to raise awareness of issues and draw support for grass roots concerns. And the traffic at this posting (1344 reads so far, not to mention emails and RSS) and attention it has drawn show this approach has impact. What else do you need to meet your objectives of saving the Wirth House?

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Okay--call me Pollyanna.  Jeff--I am renovating one of those houses in Brooklyn Centre, too.  It's not the nightmare you portray or the nightmare that George/Brewed Fresh Daily is living with right now.  Some people know how to renovate.  I am not claiming to be one of them and my house is never going to be a showcase, but there is a slow gratification that comes from keeping a house with character alive.  If the house or building does not have character, does not have a story.  Fine.  Kill it.  This house has a story that is important to this neighborhood.

Another alternative to demolition of Wirth House

There is a hideous circa 1960 brick box apartment structure on at West 31st and Denison adjacent to Art House.  It recently sustained a major fire.  Tear it down and voila, we have green space and parking for Art House!

Save this house in Brooklyn Centre

creativity running rampant

Laura, we mentioned that to the Art House-Hut folk a good while ago, and they dismissed it out of hand as being too expensive, but nobody really knew what the cost might be. Maybe it's time for them to run that one by themselves again and see if they can get more creative. All we do know now is that they're squirming like the Dickens to get out from under Wirth House, nobody from the community has been allowed inside the house, and we're having to take their word for it that it is in bad shape. They've meanwhile been wasting the asset these past few years.

As long as we're getting creative here, what about the exercise of eminent domain, for the public good, to reclaim public assets?

Call Cleveland Landmarks to save Wirth House

Please call Dan Musson at the Cleveland Landmarks Commission 216-664-2575 and ask to be listed as a consulting party on the Section 106 review process

We have received your email about the Art House project. To provide
some background about the Section 106 review process, we suggest that you
review an informational brochure (PDF) about the process here:

You can also find an online summary of the regulations here:

The full text of the regulations that control this review process are
here (large PDF):

Our office is involved in the review of this project because of the
proposed use of Community Development Block Grant funds by the City of
Cleveland. Under the Section 106 regulations, the City is required to
consider the effects on historic properties of projects that receive
federal CDBG funding. Under the regulations governing the CDBG program, HUD
has delegated responsibility for compliance with Section 106 to the
local governments that receive the funds, such as the City of Cleveland.
The City follows a federal review process that identifies historic
properties that might be affected and evaluates the project's potential
effects. They must take those effects into account before deciding whether
to grant federal assistance. As part of this review process, the City is
required to make formal findings about the project and ask the Ohio
Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) for our concurrence.

For projects that will have adverse effects on historic properties, the
City needs to demonstrate that alternatives that would avoid or
minimize the adverse effect have been considered. If the City decides to go
forward and offer assistance to projects that will have adverse effects,
the City and OHPO typically enter into an agreement about how those
effects will be taken into account, or mitigated. The terms of such
agreements are discussed among all of the consulting parties with an interest
in the project.
If you would like to be directly involved in the review of this
project, you should contact the City and ask them to provide you with
information about how to become a consulting party for this project. Your
request to the City should show that you meet the following description from
the regulations:

(5) Additional consulting parties.
Certain individuals and organizations
with a demonstrated interest in the
undertaking may participate as
consulting parties due to the nature of
their legal or economic relation to the
undertaking or affected properties, or
their concern with the undertaking's
effects on historic properties.

Our contact at the City of Cleveland for this project is Dan Musson.
His contact information is:
Daniel A. Musson, City Planner/Compliance Officer
Cleveland Landmarks Commission
601 Lakeside Avenue, Room 519
Cleveland, OH 44114
216.664.2575 phone
216.664.3281 fax

what about a flashing yellow

what about a flashing yellow light and cross walk? 


They could have annual fund raisers, maybe carnivals in the school parking lot.  Each year do something to the building. 

I was just looking at the photos and thinking the same

It is good to revisit this, as I've been spending lots of my time looking at old properties. This house is very attractive - nice balanced design and sensible ornamentation - not over the top but first class - and is surely well built - the quality of the roof and trueness of line show that. As this is a neighborhood that is appreciative of historic structures and bases its identity on that, it makes sense to save one of the most important buildings. Also, to me architecture is art and anything called arthouse must respect good architecture... arts organizations shouldn't destroy art. Further, the idea that there should be 1 parking space directly in front of each 100 square feet of occupied space in such an urban environment is flawed. Multiple establishments need to share parking resources - there should be a crosswalk there and it should be enforced... if they need a parking lot in the neighborhood the city should find a property that can be demolished and put in a parking lot for all, like around Coventry.

All that said, I know some artists who work at Arthouse and I have a generally favorable impression of them, of what little I know, other than regarding this issue over the Wirth House.

Disrupt IT

parking is ample surrounding

The parking surrounding Art House is ample. There's the lot at Denison School across the street. There could be parking in the lot of the apartment complex to the east, if acquired. There is also a small apartment building to the west with tons of open space that could probably be acquired easily. The Art House staff and board are not thinking of a very big picture--their pespective is very limited. Raising money for a big picture of saving and restoring Wirth House and adding parking and more classrooms would be what I would do, and it is what we have recommended. They, on the other hand, only want to focus on the micro-issue, which is one of scarcity and limitation, not abundance and possibility.

Saint Philips Church across the street and a couple of houses adjacent were also available and would have made a marvelous complex, but the minds over at Art House are not in expansion mode.

I really think they should

I really think they should use the money they have set aside to demolish to stabilize the structure. They should add a trustee from the neighborhood that would take a role of managing a small amount of money each year to move toward forward on restoration.  I would believe that the money to demolish would cover the roof.  They should jump off the fast track and get on the slow road.    


It's easy to throw stones at the big bad Stealyard.  Look a little harder and wait until blight reaches your neighborhood.  When your tax dollars go to buy a building with the promise of restoration and then the promise is withdrawn and more tax dollars are proposed to create a big gaping hole in your once proud neighborhood now riddled with abandonment and foreclosures, then call me disrespectful and tell me how to think and talk.

planned abandonment gets blight gets Federal dollars

    A while back, Laura, Roger Bundy did a piece on "planned abandonment," which seems to be a tenet of the planning done around here. It's basically a "hurt and rescue" sort of operation where the people trying to control the dialogue declare an area blighted, deny it services, and then have a few "oops" episodes like Ladder 42 safety snafu, the Fulton Road Bridge over-budget overimprovement, Art House/Hut's bait and switch, the demolition last Saturday at the end of Riverside, the two opportune and hasty takedowns on Denison--one in violation of the 106 review process and pushed by the LDC--all the while aided and abetted by inept governance the likes of which we have seen from Merle Gordon, Jane Campbell, Frank Jackson, and Jimmy DiMora, to mention a few. The upshot of it all is that they all try to make names and reputations and money on the way down, and on the way up. It has nothing to do with building something unique or worthwhile, or preserving something valuable.

What's all this about "disrespectful" and people telling you "how to think and talk?"

Boo hoo hoo

A bad man made me cry for my blog etiquette.  But, I  am used to second graders...all day, so I think in childspeak....time to go home now.

tiny tears

here's hoping your tears were tiny--time to watch Boston Legal now

"Ne illegitimi carborundum"--used to be a motto we used with the rugby club--applies as well in the roller derby of the blogosphere--no foul--keep moving

Ticking clock

I am still waiting to possibly hear of a creative solution to the Art House campus "expansion."  How will this non-profit's long range plan affect positive change for this neighborhood?  How does a parking lot and three benches to replace a century building revitalize this neighborhood?  I know that we can do better.  We can not squander the assets of this neighborhood that has more going for it than any other Cleveland neighborhood.

I wonder if the reason for

I wonder if the reason for the art house is gangs?  I think that getting into 4th and 5th graders is addressing at risk children, but as a teacher I am sure you know that, and I am sure you do not want to threaten the program.  


It's the house you just do not want to see it demolished.


I have driven by that house many times always thinking why would anyone put a green house on the front of a home, how do they get away with that?   I also daydream about restoring homes, well I use too, not so much anymore.   That one got my attention but it did not hold it because of its location.  I do not allow myself to fantasies about things that are economically infeasible, I stopped saying they should, it’s all about if I can.  That one requires more than her worth to restore, because of where she is.  


To me waste is waste, either tax dollars or my own hard earned capital, if you commit super- adequacy, you better stay in the home forever, because it will never give you the money back.  Too much traffic and noise at that location, it is a commercial site. 


But when you add the art house it gets really weird, what they are doing there is worth more to me than the house, they are attempting to interrupt the path these kids are on, programs like these can change a kid’s life. 


If you really want to do something productive then contact the funders of the art house, but do not address them like second graders I can assure you none of those people are behind you on any knowledge curve. I would not explain things to them they already know assume they know everything you know and more.  They would require an action plan and you local community development organization should be able to draw one up. 


At this point you are asking them to draw an action plan in your interest and in opposition to theirs that must make you very popular.  What is your curriculum lately adverb and adjectives, please teach the children how to use them appropriately and with a correct proportionality?  They should be taught to consider the words exaggerate, fabricate and even lie.  “Powerful art organization”?             



the Art House greehouse

Oengus, the greenhouse stuck on the front of Art House is there because the previous owner, the Peter Hasek Glass Company (Joe Graskemper) decided to sell them and wanted to use the front of their building as advertising for the product. It just appeared there one day; they didn't run anything by the local design review committee or Landmarks. Joe just did whatever he wanted to do. That attitude seems to have carried over to the new owners.


We have been waiting to see the long-range plan for Art House. They refuse to show it. Perhaps they don't have one. Now that they want to tear down a community asset, how can it be that they also refuse to show their intentions for the future? Most of us around here feel that we have no assurance whatsoever that they intend to be here next year or the year after.


Also, how long will it be until the present configuration no longer meets their needs, and they opt to move to Bay Village or East Cleveland, where there's more space for a thriving program? At that point, we're left with only a gaping hole in the streetscape. If we as a community take the Wirth House back, at least we don't have the hole in the streetscape, and there may be lots of other people who will jump at the chance to do something creative by way of renovation and restoration. You can't really separate art from architecture. You can't talk out both sides of your mouth when it comes to the issue of the Wirth House.


Thanks for reminding me to check on the status of the section 106 review.

I see that, they could be

I see that, they could be gone tomorrow, they should use the money budgeted for the demo to stabilize the property, the roof. Paint it and take off the green house. Has it sat through a winter yet?  It needs to be winterized. 


whats on the other side?  a credit union?  could they share parking?   

not much creative thinking

On the other side is an apartment complex with lots of parking, to the east. We've suggested acquiring the complex and using it for instruction, especially since it just had a fire, but the Art House board and staff have never thought very creatively about how to use dollars, and space.


The Wirth House has sat through many winters--I think Susan Miller was saying she attended the initial opening in 1999.


Art House shares parking with the school across the street right now. We in the neighborhood--my wife, in particular--are trying to get some sort of NOACA grant to deal with the issue of the streetscape down there and the installation of a light and crosswalk. We might have a lot of nonprofits with paid staff, but still we need to do most of the driving ourselves when it comes to getting the quality-of-life and the safety things done.

I still believe that a

I still believe that a doctor and an attorney can live next door to a mechanic and a cashier. 


But as for homes they have to have complimentary designs and landscaping. 


This requires people to share something other than tax brackets. 


The homes do not have to have the same or equal value but share the same attention to detail.


I have no trouble with mixed incomes, but not the credit scores, bad credit is irresponsible behavior.  It’s not ok to park on your front lawn, it not ok to throw trash out your car window. It is not ok to swear in public, the lawn gets mowed once a week.  If you do not like landscaping then do not buy a home with a yard.  It is not ok to be noisy after 10 pm.


Class is not income related; with the exception of forcing a person to landscape everything above is enforceable by law.  I would never push people out of neighborhood but foreclosure and citations should.  


I am ok with a modest home, I think subsidization could be done to upgrade from vinyl siding to concrete board and also facing stone on foundations as well as landscaping. 

I am ok with having an area that restrict any market subsidization and also deed restrictions such as landscaping must be done weekly a garden community? 


What the market lacks is addressing the working class; it does not define a higher quality of life that is affordable.  The system should reward for working and maintaining financial responsibility. Entry-level homes should be integrated in all areas, the subsidization should be in making them fit architecturally. Exterior facade upgrades and landscaping. 


The links below to homes are not modest homes, but they have historic lines and also upgrades to the facades that I refer to, facing stones on the foundation, the thickness of the posts.  These elements can be added to smaller homes, and that additional costs could be part of subsidization.  These are new and financed by bank of America.   


New homes

A bungalow simple “A” frame with upgrades, this is not new but could easily be reproduced. If the city is demolishing then it is entirely possible to remove the oak doors and millwork from those homes. That is a businesses opportunity to be able to get in first and take out the millwork and then store it in a warehouse. It could be inventoried and categorized, and then reused in new homes.  design

I disagree that new homes cannot be made to reproduce the look and feel of an older home. 


Archwood Denison should not have low-income housing and rentals; it should be a garden community, it does not need commerce it has adjacent areas of commerce. 


I would recommend eliminating all commercial properties with the exception of the storefronts around the  “Ugly Broad” The BP, the Sunoco the McDonald, the strip center the Aldi’s all transplanted into other adjacent area and replaced with trees.  That would connect the area to the park.


All of the post war construction could be bought and demolished replaced with historic reproductions.  Road reconstruction should include under ground electric and phone lines. Gas style lamps and lots of deciduous trees a park community. 


As far as the bridges, decorative railing and wide sidewalks for all of them that match, there are three at Denison and Fulton, if that intersection was wooded and the bridges matched.  That should be the goal bringing the park up the hill.  All green and thick, no commerce.   


  I think commerce should be systematically transplanted out of the area and into adjacent areas.  Rebuilding Clark and Pearl in sections. 


I look at what is in Bowling Green and see that it only cost $4,166.000 per household to purchase a wind turbine.  Based on 600 homes, if a turbine is located at CPP and connected to its grid, then up to 600 homes could buy power from it at $4,166.00 each as long as they are connected to the grid.  I do see hidden costs maintenance and service charges but the energy is free. How many homes in the area?  Over 600? 


I like infill, I like transplanting, and I really like green spaces.  The area is geographical an island and it could be categorized by parcels, green (good) red (bad), some could be restored some could be demolished and some could be transplanted.  Leaving only historic style homes.


It is an island but it is not isolated, when you build commerce on that island you bring in others from surrounding areas, but considering that most that actually live in the area are going to Ridge Park for shopping and others are coming to your area to shop, I think you get the picture. 


Do you need commerce?  No you are not running a separate budget, you are not closed economy. 

 Being an island you actually have an electric grid that is somewhat isolated, it goes under ground or out of site every time it crosses the interstates, which buy the way ODOT is ready to address within the area.  These lines then come back out and then traverse the area and then go back out of site on the other side, hmmm if the road gets addressed as they do in cycles then power lines and lighting should get addressed.  Between the homes and the highway needs trees water run off should be directed to the trees and they should be large fast growing trees. Run off and sewers on the island all upgraded.  


One obstacle would be threw truck traffic,  I think I would force them round about, that’s a tough one but I would really be aggressive on that.  Truck routes need to be very defined and all those semis should be on GPS and directed and fined for going off track.  If the area was all wooded up the trucks would not fit through.   


I really would love to get into that valley and clean it up, and link the green all the way up the hillside a green canopy.  I would enjoy working around metro linking it to the community; it has a large amount of employees, the same dynamics as the clinic, they could live in the community, doctors, nurses, and technician.  


I know that if I offered ten thousand dollars for any home in Clark Metro and the Stock Yard as well I would get many some streets would produce 5-6 homes, seriously people have abandoned many homes. These homes many have millwork.  In fill in those areas needs prefricated housing factory; they need the lowest cost per sq ft homes.  They also need-subsidized homes.  They need outreach programs, at risk programs, adult education programs and jobs as well as job training.


I think that area could be launching platform, green motivated, residential garden park community.

100% residential, 100% owner occupied even the apartments could be condos, 100% green no through truck traffic.   

A green community could have restrictions, power lines under ground. If CPP put the lines under ground they could then mandate it and force first energy to remove theirs.  All of the water lines and sewer lines and points of access are well defined for that area, it is surrounded by highway.  They must go under the highway or under the bridges.  

It could be a model for infrastructure updating and historical preservation and historical replication. Living in green space.   A bedroom community, transfering bussiness and commerce into districts closer to the city center.   





like living in a small town

For years, we've likened living in Archwood-Denison to living in a small town--all sorts of people coexisting and supporting each other. The logical extension of this harks back to the Arts and Crafts movement, when the small town or community was self-sufficient--today, that idea has "sustainability" as a counterpart. Archwood-Denison came into being at a time when our country and our region were having some really productive ideas about what comprised "community." This is prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve Banking system,  and its handmaiden, the Internal Revenue Service, back at a time when people were thinking about how to support each other and promote each other's best interest, instead of living off each other in a system of taxing and ultimately dominating and enslaving. Newton D. Baker, when he was mayor, had some good ideas for planning in a city environment, and we ought to look back to those times, and a little prior.

I am having some trouble

I am having some trouble with that the Federal Reserve got its charter in 1791 and Cleveland was founded in 1796. 


I understand the progressive movement and we can all agree that waste and inefficiency does exist in government.  The movement defines that, big revelation.  


Spending is what taxes are for and if they are spent they should be spent on something long term and sustainable.  I define that today as permanent and not needing to be revisited. 


I think commercial districts should be defined and managed like a shopping mall, with a person or people that are responsible for keeping space utilized. 


I believe that in my prior described residential community I call for a list of commerce that could be transplanted to various commercial districts as commodities to meet their needs.  That being full occupancy of space in a defined commercial district.  


Residential communities should be sustainable, and not in a constant state of flux. Commercial district should also be sustainable and if the size is managed highly utilized.  Zoning?


Thank you for asking me to visit history, it is always good to do that, the progressive movement and the efficiency movement are all worth a review.  Baker was planning because at that time things were being built, most was built after him, his agenda would have been roads from dirt to brick, water and sewer, oops should have thought ahead Newt.   The roaring twenties, we have fallen far since then.   Defining Vs. Redefining differences between then and now 

The Federal Reserve and 1913

Oengus, I didn't mean to confound the issue too much, but there were massive societal changes wrought by political acts, machinations, and maneuvering in 1912 and 1913. You can get a start on reading about it at


Woodrow Wilson is quoted later as saying,

I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.

Does Greider draw any

Does Greider draw any conclusions in his book?


I am of the opinion that the system needs to be computerized does he draw that conclusion?


I see accounting as history, and then look at the values and where they are derived that’s a process; I then look at the process and attempt to improve it, that’s efficiency. 


I have not read any of Greider, but I can see the problems in the systems he gets into global economics for one.  But does he draw solutions? 


Computerization and the use of metrics is what I call for.  But wonder if the majority would be able to vote on changes to the metrics?  They have trouble keeping track of voting records; they pick people and then evaluate the results.   


Books are written on these subjects primarily to make money, but also to offer details so that individuals can understand the concepts; if one already has a handle on the concepts then reading the book is for what?  Entertainment? 


I say lets start a book club the first book is the brother karamazov, that’s a good one, it very entertaining.  We should have an automated government and just get on with humanity.          


“Art Organizations are very admirable, but one that is only eight years old should not be demolishing a century home”


“Art House and the city as well as the community should make sure that the correct events happen.”  


I am advocating!  I am tapping on shoulders and whispering in ears.   

the basic point is...

The basic point is that a lot of the money is now unhealthily concentrated in the wrong places--that is, increasing out of our hands. The FRB controls a lot, the IRS gets the FRB more, the littler banks have a lot, there are concentrations around Washington DC and Columbus OH that hijack our freedoms our control of our destinies.


Computerization may bring more transparency and more immediacy, if ever people decide to take contol of their destinies again. Most are still unaware, or asleep.

Avant garde art

This is a terrific thread.  Oengus, we haven't had the prior pleasure of coherent conversation.
At first (furtive) glance a few of your posts are a bit confusing as they seem simultaneously astute and yet at times, asinine - perhaps just because I haven't assimilated your (writing) style or substance as of yet. 

I feel this is a great community collaboration project, perhaps one worthy of its own Drupal 
COIL (community of interest link  - i.e.  FOSS website encouraging collaborative participation toward transparent transformation).   As I've also alluded to and alliterated toward all along,
we can inspire and encourage enthusiastic, enigmatic participation with exciting, albeit farfetched to a few -  innovative ideas.

(preferably ones facilitative of sustainable economic development locally and regionally, of course!)

I am not in any way at odds

I am not in any way at odds with the purpose of this web page. 


I really have to be edited though, some of us albeit have less of a command of composition than others; I have no troubles with comprehension though.


You and I never have had a conversation, so the use of coherent as a descriptive word is actually describing something that never took place.  You also call for things to happen transparently, as a function of a list of descriptive words that are…well; nothing is really far-fetched or mysterious about the communication on the site.  It certainly is not transparent; the site is really well indexed on the servers.    Type a list of your favorite descriptive words in a search engine and your posts will show up  as link  to REALNEO!   It kind of like sounds good …but are they actually appropriate, wordsmith?  


I think open source software is great, however I got away from IT for now. 


Sustainability as a concept is infantile in its form; it will evolve a time line much longer than any of our existences.  


The few will solve the problems, the minds that can envision the processes that meets that need and also benefits our society in ways that some are simultaneously arguing against.  When I hear people say “ without regard to costs” I look at the costs.  When people say, “ talk out of both sides of your head” I look at both sides.    


I like the way my mind works, actually I love my mind and I can wear a lots of hats and all of them have feathers in them.  I am not looking for recognition or notoriety fame or fortune.  


Did anyone call the county prosecutor and ask him if he actually used the word “philistine”?   Something makes me think Maag added that, did anyone else catch that?


I asked a PR representative at the Western Reserve to look into the Wirth House.  I could call the director of the art house and volunteer to manage the property for them? 

and she would be damn lucky to get me!

Nostalgia and Communities

  Sheryl Hoffman, the lone Brooklyn Centre resident affiliated with Art House has her house on the market and plans to move to Bay Village, now that she has been appointed the executive director position with SPACES. The board members, all non-residents, want to proceed with the demolition of Wirth House, a neighborhood landmark, despite the protests of long-standing residents. Community-based arts organization....right.
This month's Cleveland magazine features the most exclusive neighborhoods in Cuyahoga County.  No surprise, Brooklyn Centre is not listed, but the issue features Jim Rokakis' Swan Song to his boarded-up family home on Garden Court and an analysis of the foreclosure crisis in Cuyahoga County.  Funny thing, nostalgia--Rokakis and all the immigrants to this neighborhood fell/and fall for the myth that you are not a success unless you leave the neighborhood--or, worse, destroy it.  All the rats leave for higher ground.  Well, this rat is staying on the ship. 

Jim's a homeboy

Some readers might not know that Jim's a Brooklyn Centre homeboy--his family's former house is just down on Garden, near "the new" Aldi's, and he was the Ward 15 councilman for years; at the time he took over the council job from Teddy Sliwa, he was still at/just out of Oberlin College. He introduced me to Gloria, and we consider him our marriage broker.

I wouldn't expect our "park neighborhood" to make the CLEVELAND Magazine rankings until we can secede from the City of Cleveland--they are a drag on almost anything, moving as slowly and as secretively as they do, and having such a crippled Landmarks Commission and Planning Commission. Did the article separate Ohio City or Tremont into its own separate entity? (I'll have to go track down the story.)

One foreclosure story

I can not resist the subtitle: A Greek Tragedy.   Main Entry: nos·tal·gia
Pronunciation: nä-'stal-j&, n&- also no-, nO-; n&-'stäl-
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Greek nostos return home + New Latin -algia; akin to Greek neisthai to return, Old English genesan to survive, Sanskrit nasate he approaches
1 : the state of being homesick : HOMESICKNESS
2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also : something that evokes nostalgia

Welcome to Foreclosure Central by Erick Trickey with photographs by Jamie Janos in the July 2007 issue of Cleveland Magazine.

Library lady gets a lot of stories from old time residents reminiscing about their childhood in this neighborhood.  This story could have a happier ending.   This neighborhood is the stuff of fantasy for kids.  You can walk or ride your bike almost anywhere and you can experience cultures from around the world. 

One local resident, a woman from Serbia raising two boys with her American husband, bemoaned the treatment she gets from her family and friends who encourage her to move to Solon and other "safe" places.  She is staying.  She said, where can I find such neighbors, who are willing to help you out?  Her streets boasts Ukrainian, African-American, African (Liberia/Ivory Coast/Nigeria), Latino (Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic), Arabic (Palestine/Algeria), Appalachian/Italian/German/Polish-American and mongrel mutts like me living nearby.  She has a view of downtown overlooking Riverside Cemetery. And yes, Tim, she has a real and amazing Garden.

Jamie is a homeboy, too

Laura, I don't know whether you were here when he was, but Jamie Janos the photographer was raised over on Mapledale and qualifies as a Brooklyn Centre homeboy, too. His mom and dad, Gloria and Clarence, both helped us with our two kids, and both were instrumental in keeping the area as nice as it is, using things like the Brooklyn Centre Historical Society, Archwood-Denison Concerned Citizens, numerous house tours and street fairs, and a lot of phone contact. They held the community together and strengthened the network, which is what it's all about.

revelation: I am not Gloria

I just realized I posted the last two "homeboy" comments here as "Gloria Ferris." I guess she was logged in to RealNEO on my machine. I am now myself. I also checked to make sure I was wearing my own undergarments, and everything is cool.


As a married couple, we should only share so much. There have to be boundaries. Log-ins need to be sacrosanct, and we must exercise acute attention to detail when we borrow others' machines. Underwear? No biggie.

Blurry lines

Identity is tricky in cyberspace.  Fidelity to "home" is also tricky.  It's hard to be loyal to your home community if you pay taxes in Bay Village or other exclusive "neighborhoods."   I am glad that Brooklyn Centre (Plain Dealer please note spelling--we do have our pretensions! Also, hello?! City Planning--East Denison School is owned by Concept Schools listed at the State of Ohio as Breeze Inc. How much are you going to pay to buy it back?!) has produced some fine exports.   Now it is time that this "transitional/fragile" (today's PD designation)  part of Cleveland actually keeps those talents in the real neighborhood, which I would define as a place you can actually LIVE, without having to get into a car. I am glad that the mysterious, elusive s/he Gloria/Tim can be found here :)

And to respond to today's BFD query--I am glad that Cleveland is reverting back to Forest.  Maybe, some home-growns will return as well, if only as investors.

nomenclature for insiders

Actually, some refer to those exotic objects of the affection of the county commissioners, the city planning commission,  and their numerous and nearly disenfranchised employees as Timmia and Glorothy.


One huge reason Brooklyn Centre has been mis-tagged by the planners and denied services by its own city and county governments is that it does not buckle, it does not suck up. Since Jim Rokakis left, these creeps have tried to make us a profit center by planned abandonment and meddling, funding inept nonprofits here since the 1980s that have only drained money and solved few problems. We have the Fulton Road Bridge that was grossly mishandled, and continues to be. We had the two premature demolitions on Denison and one on Riverside, and the one on Denison near Wirth House was aided and abetted by the local nonprofit, in defiance of the section 106 requirements, yet nobody has yet been held accountable.


They're wrecking a great neighborhood to make jobs for themselves--it's called "hurt and rescue." The same dumb charade is being carried out on the Breuer Tower. The wreck it and then declare it in need of massive funding. Lots of money disappears down the government and nonprofit ratholes, diverted from its true destination.


The legacy systems are fighting for their lives, and losing. We are winning as we demand fundamental systemic change. The government and the nonprofits are coming apart at the seams; their perfidy is more obvious every day.


This whole society is going to flip in the next few years, and it's just like being back in 1967 again. These are times of marvelous change, and this time, we'll get it right and not allow a Great Society to intervene. The Great Society is what gave us the bloated government and the nonprofits, and these are the same people who have tried to make Brooklyn Centre dysfunctional, so they can fix it. Throw the bums out.


Where did that all come from?

Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It

This book comes to mind--because the author gives a dead-on description of the ruins of Detroit (a la the Forest City) and it also captures the lackadaisical attitude of "our people," who purportedly try to make northeast Ohio a better place.  I don't mean to be mean, but today's Brain Gain in the PD is a case in point.  It features a fellow Miami alum who runs, lives in Chardon, and complains about our public schools and public transportation....I won't lay into anyone else, but there is a domino effect that took place here in Brooklyn Centre with Art House.  People distancing themselves from the situation and then leaving us to twist in the wind.  I will say that home-grown Jamie Janos is doing good things for Cleveland.  I am going to take our lousy public transportation to see his latest efforts to document the fine work of Manka Design.  Which begs the question, with so much talent here--Manka/Janos--surely we can get a better design for Art House/the Denison School and Brooklyn Centre's historic cross roads?

Hands-On looks like a buncha bullshit, hands down

I happened to go to the hands-on site, and I got the impression the only thing they really had their hands on was the purse that dispenses the charitable dollar.


 I noticed that they got the $30K Civic Innovation Lab grant, which seldom goes where it ought, and that they advocate fair-weather-friend volunteerism, the kind that starts at 10 AM on a bright sunny weekend, garners the attendee an all-cotton T-shirt, and leaves before sundown, only to return next month, if the weather's nice.


 If I'm being unkind, it's only because I have seen more than 45 years of this sort of civic circle-jerk; there's no excuse for continuing to fund the safe-and-suburban feel-good crowd, other than the fact that they need to have enough to continue to live in Chardon, and care at a distance.

I know 2 people

  I know two GREAT, GIVING people, who live and work and WALK in the City of Cleveland and they were turned down for the Civic Innovation Award...if I told you their names, you would not believe it. 
And for anyone reading this--don't think that we don't want an arts organization in our neighborhood.  We do--Art is great/Artists are great (I live with one, my sister is of THEM!)-- and there are some great people affiliated with Art House.  Some of them just have to stop seeing us in some patronizing "we know what's good for you" attitude, because you're so poor, and you don't understand art,  and you need our help.  Give me something to be excited about.  Not a parking lot and crap art benches. Tim is so right about the civic circle-jerk attitude.  It's definitely a fundraiser's motherlode in this city. And god knows, I can't criticize Art House for tapping into that vein.

Importance of neighborhood identity

Interesting story and good point Tim. Urban neighborhoods, which may be defined many different ways, nonetheless have unique characteristics, and it is at the neighborhood level that planning and decision making must occur. This is contrary to the huge mess that is Cleveland and to the Cle+ regional vision, both which see only a few neighborhoods as important - those with clear power roles in the region. Neighborhoods like yours and mine are completely expendable in such big visioning. To survive and thrive we must take charge of the planning and management of our communities, proactively, and in advance of the big planners - we need to declare our landmarks - we need to take charge of our land-bank properties and make community gardens - we need to create bike paths. There are many great examples of neighborhood activism like guerrilla gardening and taking back the streets in Toronto that would work in Old Brooklyn - I've written about them on Realneo so you should be able to find them searching for Toronto...

Disrupt IT

Open Houses and Reincarnation

  In today's Plain Dealer, John Campanelli examines the psychology of people who visit open houses and quotes our local history champion Craig Bobby.  Craig compares Victorian Houses to works of ART that draws appreciation

Despite all the unnecessary drama, this unfolding story can be a work of art for the neighborhood. Connect the dots A-Z.  Non-profits pairing.  One non-profit loses its founder and will find it hard to regain momentum; another non-profit will need a space that provides for studio, gallery and residences for visiting artists from Europe. Reincarnation.  I want to be hopeful.  I agree with Craig Bobby.

Fix it

  Rereading Walker Percy's Love in the Ruins is a disturbing experience.  The racial tension he portrayed in 1971 has not lessened much today.  And most disturbing of all, he nails our tendency to run away from problems, rather than to fix them:

"Don't tell me the U.S.A. went down the drain because of Leftism, Knotheadism, apostay, pornography, polarization, etcetera etcetera.  All these things may have happened, but what finally tore it was that things stopped working and nobody wanted to be a repairman."

Your car, your community, your family.... if it breaks down, walk away from it and buy another one.  Walk away (actually drive away). It's the American way. Let it all unravel.

Follow the bouncing balls

Hmmm.  Ann Schorgl hired by Art House in February 2007 and now missing from the masthead at Art House a mere  eight months later.  

Visionary Artists

  Dear Art House Board, it is worth viewing this interview with visionary Mattress Factory founder Barbara Luderowski before we head into the next round of the Section 106 review.  Please.

Art House Engineers Report

  When the CDC purchased the complex of buildings at 3117 and 3119 Denison Ave for Art House,  Wirth House was found to be sound. 

Do lies and the misuse of public dollars affect the CAC scoring?

thanks for the report

Since I can't read Art House's CAC grant, it would be premature for me to surmise that they lied on their application. I also don't know who their new Executive Director will be and what opening for saving Wirth House might exist with new leadership. It is unclear as to who is leading this charge to tear down the building, the professional staff (now moved to another organization) or the board.

The other important potential breath of fresh air for nonprofits is the rotation of the board. However this engineer's report would indicate to me that the structure is sound for the most part and needs som TLC to survive and revive. If this TLC cannot be forthcoming from the Art House board and staff, then perhaps they could sell the property and relocate. Has there been a concerted effort by those trying to save the Wirth House to offer alternatives in the neighborhood to the organization for its programs?

Remember what Leonard Cohen said, "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Maybe these findings and staff chenges are just the cracks needed to save this wonderful bit of history.

Zygote not on the LIST

I wonder why Zygote Press did not get funding?  Conflict of interest, because one of their board members is a CAC staff person?  We have conflict of interest issues here (Abe Bruckman sits on the board of the CDC which directs funding to Art House), but no one is denying funding to Art House.

I also wonder-- How many non-profits on this list had the advantage of OWNING a building free and clear--paid for with public funds? (Art House just assumed complete ownership after 5 years)

  I want to know the non-profits, who didn't make the LIST and why?  How many of these non-profits had to use their own resources to ACTUALLY serve the community?  If I ran one of these non-profits, I would be furious.  CAC, please demand accountability.  Art House has a financial obligation to this neighborhood. 

Is it too much to ask for real creativity from an arts organization?

And Susan, to answer your question about "offering" another location.  Art House was given all of the funds (local taxpayers money with no restrictive covenant on the transfer) to assume ownership over Wirth House and the Quonset Hut. 

The director and board at the time did not consider growth and did not consider whether the location really suited their needs at the time.    There should have been a lot more forethought. 

As a community, we are not in a position to offer any more money, than the money that has already been used.  The building can not be moved, as Brian Cummins suggests.  I have no idea, where he thinks he can find the money to move it and we have no plans, period, from Art House or Councilman Cummins to see what the neighborhood looks like in three years, five years, forever.

And for anyone reading this who may be thinking--play nice.  Well, this has been more than a long year of playing nice and no concessions from the arrogant, "holier-than-thou," full-of-themselves arts organization.  (This link shows a historic house on Archwood--not Art House as the Living in Cleveland website would have you believe).

Art House's strategy has been to use our money and wait out the local dust storm, before they go for the final curtain and destroy our local history.  We will be left with the consequences and they frankly could care less, because the poorer we become, the more they qualify for money!  Please, give the Art House board members a piece of your mind. 

We can do better

Today (actually yesterday, now) was a strange day of strange encounters.  I thought to myself, I want to see Vern Hartenburg and Dick Kerber from the Cleveland Metroparks so I can tell them about the potential Wirth House has to be a component in an overall marketing strategy for Brooklyn Centre as a family destination.  And, lo and behold, as I fake jogged through the zoo--I ran into them!  I think I scared them, but I did get to make my point!

And when I got to the pool at Estabrook, I thought, wouldn't it be great if someone who has the ear of Mayor Jackson was there?  And, there was a downtown staffer there--and the pool temperature was just right for lap swimming and he said so, much to the chagrin of some of the other staffers there.  And then I remembered that Mayor Jackson would be downtown.

And, I thought to myself, I want to run into Jeff Buster.  I wonder if he will be downtown taking photographs? Sure enough--he was there.  Now, will some one please believe me? WE , as one community, can do better for all of us.

Now, if I could only run into...Marc Dann :)

Good Karma day

Everything is connected

Disrupt IT


in each of the incidents you mention at least 50% of the "karma" was you - you being active, involved and observant.

This is not luck or chance.  
This is you being alive and caring about what is going on around you.  I was surprised you found me in the dark, crawling around with my camera on the ground in Public Square. 

Our community will not improve, however, until we rid ourselves of corruption and incompetence and instead install persons of intelligence, integrity, and civic mindedness (not developer's pawns) into the important County and City offices.

And we need to create an honest day's work ethic here in NEO too. 

Many civil servants I observe are just dogging it, day by day.  More specifics on this a coming post.

Feeder neighborhoods and Success

  Tim started a very productive dialogue on BFD.  Here is the Father Begin article, too.  We can do better.  Let's start with how we define "poverty" and "success."

chicanery at ArtHouse