May is CH Preservation Month

John Long Severance's "Longwood" Estate. Photos courtesy City of Cleveland Heights.

For more than 20 years, the city of Cleveland Heights has celebrated preservation month, recognizing its rich history through a series of tours and lectures.

“Cleveland Heights is a community that values its history, historic architecture and stunning natural features,” said Kara Hamley O’Donnell, city planner and historic preservation planner. “Taking a month to celebrate all our community has to offer forces us to step back and reflect on how special Cleveland Heights really is.”

Mary Dunbar, CH City Council Member, and a co-leader of one of this month’s tours, commented, "Historic homes and business districts are among our greatest assets in Cleveland Heights, but not enough appreciate that. People who have lived here, across the nation and around the world, say that our homes, neighborhoods and business districts are unique and of exceptional quality—world class, in fact. The number of historic districts we have listed on the National Register of Historic Places recognizes and testifies to the amazing legacy Heights residents have inherited—and we have more historic districts coming!"

The Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission, Cleveland Heights Historical Society, Heights Bicycle Coalition and Heights Libraries all partner to present preservation month events.

“Heights Libraries has a long history in Cleveland Heights, stretching back to 1916 when the first library board was formed,” noted Sheryl Banks, Heights Libraries marketing manager, “So we not only have a deep and enthusiastic interest in the history of our region—we feel we are a big part of it.”

Two lectures, held at the Lee Road Library, require no reservations, while two other events, a tour of GE's Nela Park and a walking tour of Dugway Brook’s west branch, filled up with early registrants. “Though registration is full for two events, we want to let people know that they are part of the month’s activities, as there is a chance that we may try to offer the tours again in the future,” said O’Donnell. Below is a list of preservation month events, including the two that are already full:

May 7, 7 p.m., The Several Lives of Severance Town Center, 1890 to 2015

It was first farmland; then the site of John L. Severance’s mansion, Longwood; then an upscale indoor mall—one of Ohio’s earliest; then a refurbished strip mall. Today, Severance Town Center also comprises two medical facilities, three high-rise apartments, a U.S. Post Office, a cluster of new condominiums, and Cleveland Heights City Hall. This talk, by Marian Morton, illustrates these changes that signal larger changes in the city itself. [Lee Road Library; no registration required.]

May 16, Tour of Nela Park – Registration is full for this event.

May 21, 7 p.m., Landscaping by Style

Landscapes help define our sense of place. Join a discussion, led by Mary Ogle and Colin Compton of the Cleveland Restoration Society, on a brief history of landscape design. The program will explore traditional yards and gardens for the various architectural styles found in Northeast Ohio, with a focus on residential architecture. [Lee Road Library; no registration required.]

May 23, 9:30–10 a.m. lecture and 10 a.m. to @noon tour, Cycle Through Our History: Lecture and Bicycle Tour Highlighting Four Heights Historic Districts

This event begins with a short lecture to help participants identify popular architectural features and styles in four historic districts: Herrick Mews, Euclid Heights, Grant Deming’s Forest Hill and Mayfield Heights. A leisurely bike tour follows, exploring historic district attractions within about a mile radius of the Coventry Village Library. [Ensemble Theatre at Coventry School building, 2843 Washington Blvd. Space is limited; reservations required (call 216-291-4878). Bike tour participants must sign a waiver; bike parking available east of the library. Rain date is June 6.]

May 30, Walking tour of Dugway Brook West Branch – Registration is full for this event.

“Our events are more popular every year,” said O’Donnell. “I think if we had the time to double the number of events, we’d still fill them up. We do videotape most of the lectures, and past lectures can be found on the city’s Cleveland Heights Historical YouTube station (”

“One thing that thrills me every year is how excited people are to come to these events,” said O’Donnell. “We see a lot of our regular ‘history groupies,’ but also get first-timers interested in expanding their knowledge of the place they call home. We welcome everyone to come out and explore Cleveland Heights history and architecture in May and every month of the year!”

For more information on CH Preservation Month events, visit

For information on CH’s historic districts, visit

Kim Sergio Inglis

Kim Sergio Inglis is editor-in-chief of the Heights Observer. She lives in the Shaker Farm Historic District in Cleveland Heights.

Read More on Heights History
Volume 8, Issue 5, Posted 1:35 PM, 05.01.2015