Historic district signage is confusing, inaccurate

To the Editor,

Cleveland Heights is rightfully proud of its 10th historic district. Bested in the county by only the city of Cleveland, the Shaker Farm Historic District maintains Cleveland Heights’ status as home of the most districts listed on the U.S. Department of Interior National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, they have carelessly named these areas, causing confusion to all but the closest followers and a handful of historians.

In 1986, the Forest Hill Historic District was entered into the National Register of Historic Places by the National Parks Service. In 2010, the same federal program entered Cleveland Heights 9th district, Grant Deming’s Forest Hill Allotment Historic District, into the Register. In 1998, the City of Cleveland Heights erected street signs in recognition of the Forest Hill Historic District. The correct name was used on the signage. This year, the same care was not afforded the new district. Instead, two words (Grant Deming’s) in the federal recognition were reduced in size by 50 percent, and the word “Allotment” was eliminated. This careless mistake has, in effect, created two Forest Hill Historic Districts.

Forest Hill is not the only area that is incorrectly named. The Overlook Road Carriage House District (1974) is inaccurately referred to on city signage as as Herrick Mews Historic District.

Cleveland Heights is uniquely positioned in the county. It is important to present historic districts to the community in a way that educates and informs. Incorrect signage and inappropriate wording only add to the confusion that historians and the National Register program have spent years unraveling.

Correct wordage and signs must be used. The ninth area is Grant Deming’s Forest Hill Allotment Historic District and the signs should read as such. If the city decides to ignore appropriate wording, is the new district going to be called the Shaker Farm Forest Hill Historic District? It would be equally accurate.

Jeffery R. Dross

Jeffrey R. Dross is vice-vresident and acting chair of the Forest Hill Historic Preservation Society Board of Trustees.

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Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 10:52 PM, 09.26.2011