REACHING FOR THE STARS
"The Beginner's Guide to Dead Zones" [May 19, 2010] was really quite moving to those of us who are concerned with the loss of historic and architectural heritage from our area.
Though interested in all of the subjects on your list, of particular concern and sadness to me is the Warner and Swasey Observatory. I direct the tiny Stephens Memorial Observatory at Hiram College and can only wish the college had such a grand facility. Our circa 1901 telescope was manufactured at Warner and Swasey's telescope factory in Cleveland and is a virtual twin to the instrument they owned and had installed in their backyard observatory. Fortunately, their telescope was spared, as were subsequent and larger instruments once operating in the region's foremost astronomical center.
In Cincinnati, neighbors who feared that their historic observatory was about to meet the wrecking ball banded together to save and restore their moldering treasure. The Cincinnati Observatory Center is now one of the finest institutions of its type in the nation for historic preservation, public outreach, and astronomy education. If only the will existed here to bring such a turnabout.
James Guilford, Director
Stephens Memorial Observatory
A TRADITION OF SHORTSIGHTEDNESS
You have uncovered a not-so-hidden problem. These buildings are all sad testaments to our horridly confused city and its inappropriately low standard of priorities. The Fifth Church of Christ Scientist is one of the saddest stories, however. I've seen inside. Absolutely beautiful. So much could be done with it. In fact, it reminds me of the interiors of some Barnes & Noble bookstores. It was talked about at one time to make it into a bookstore. How could developers in and around Cleveland have dropped the ball on this one? It would be ideal for rows of books and novelties, not unlike Joseph-Beth on the East Side. The surrounding area is progressive and upscale, and dying for a good bookstore. Besides, we could always use another coffee shop. They now come standard with bookstores.
Of course, if the city is still too filled with shortsighted people, then let the city use it as a library — and, please, not a Medical Mart.
QUESTIONS AMID THE RUBBLE
Thank you for "The Beginner's Guide to Dead Zones." Too often, we act ashamed of the visible reminders of Cleveland's decline. However, these urban ruins can act as an excellent springboard for discussing not only our cultural and industrial heritage, but the future of our community. In other words, they help us answer the questions "What happened here?" and "What can we do about it?"
& Christine Borne, Editors
Cleveland Area History (clevelandareahistory.com)