Wow, just wow. The Cleveland Foundation‘s new headquarters at E. 66th and Euclid Ave. will be a gamechanger for this neighborhood. From the minute our staff walked in and was greeted by the super friendly reception desk crew we were blown away by the bright and airy feeling, the warm wood tones, and the way the building was designed to fit into the neighborhood. Stephanie Hicks Thompson was our Guide and her title fits her perfectly: Director, Experiential Marketing & Events.
If you haven’t read Steven Litt’s piece (Plain Dealer’s Art and Architecture Critic) it’s a great detailed review. One of the design features we loved most was its mass timber construction – the second design of this type in CLE (Intro – the apartment building in Ohio City – was the first).
What makes us most hopeful about the Cleveland Foundation’s move from downtown Cleveland’s Hanna Building (where it had very little visibility) is that you can already see changes slowly beginning to happen around it. Straddling MidTown and Hough neighborhoods, The Cleveland Foundation’s immediate neighbor to the south is Gust Gallucci’s Italian Foods & Market – who recently paved an adjacent parking lot to accommodate the more patrons they must be expecting. We acknowledge the controversy that surrounded the site selection which sharply divided the Board of Trustees at Dunham Tavern Museum and Gardens. Dunham eventually opted to sell a portion of their property to The Cleveland Foundation and this additional cash enabled this institution to hire a full time Executive Director, Lauren Hangsen who is overseeing a new master plan. Stephanie was emphatic about the fact that great efforts will be made to create space in and around their buildings that can be enjoyed by the neighboring community and will work to help creat what will ultimately be the largest dedicated greenspace between Downtown and University Circle. Interesting that the tiered rooflines of the new headquarters, graciously “bow down” to it’s elder neighbor, Dunham Tavern, which was built in 1824 and is the oldest buiding in Cleveland on it’s original site.
So what does this new building mean for the neighborhood and for the average resident of our city? Let’s start by asking, did you ever visit The Cleveland Foundation’s previous offices on the top floors of the Hanna Building in Playhouse Square? Guessing not, unless you had a meeting there. Now, imagine all the ways The Cleveland Foundation, the nation’s oldest community foundation, will be open and available to the public and will truly epitomize the word COMMUNITY:
- An interactive art space showcasing the work of local artists and creators through rotating displays. Current display features neighborhood residents and civic leaders in life sized photographs sharing what “home” means to them.
- Susanna’s Cafe a public cafe featuring healthy food for grab/go or dine in and staffed by the non-profit HELP Harvest which employs individuals with intellectual and development disabilities.
- The Steven A. Minter Conference Center featuring multiple free meeting spaces available for nonprofits to use throughout the week
- Additional ground-floor conference rooms for meetings and gatherings (still figuring if both profit and non-profit orgs can rent the space)
- A multipurpose room for community events, classes, performances and other activities
- First floor headquarters of a non-profit, Neighborhood Connections known for giving micro-grants (up to $5K) to individuals and organizations who may or may not be non-profits but are doing important work in the city neighborhood
- The Cleveland Foundation has administered the The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards since 1963, which recognizes books that have made important contributions to the understanding of racism and the appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Many of the past winners book covers hover near the ceiling as floating works of art.
Construction is underway immediately west and will be the MidTown Collaboration Center, an almost 100,000 SF building that will house roughly 200 direct full-time jobs. Multiple anchor institutions are bringing new innovative programs to this site that will create jobs and connect residents to resources, training and technology. Oh yes, it will also have have an outpost of Toledo’s Black Frog Brewery and Pearl’s Kitchen – two Black owned businesses.
How proud do you think Fred Goff, who started his career as John D. Rockefeller’s lawyer, would be to see what the foundation he created in 1913 has grown to be? He started the fund to encourage other Clevelanders to give philanthropically to causes that would improve their town and those of lesser means, and look at his legacy! I’m guessing he’d want to attend the grand opening party that is scheduled for Saturday, July 15th. The details of this block party are still being worked out but will be open to all and will include building tours, live music, activities for kids, food trucks and more.
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