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Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Stunning Glass Ceiling at Heinen's (Cleveland Trust Rotunda Building) Wasn't Designed By Who You Probably Thought

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM

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Whether or not you've stepped foot in the downtown Heinen's in the Cleveland Trust Rotunda building, you've probably seen the magnificent glass ceiling in the paper or on someone's Instagram feed, because it's quite possibly illegal to go to the building and not take a picture of the ceiling.

And for good reason. It's an absolute stunner that sat hidden from the public for years before Heinen's opened its doors.

The ceiling's origin story has been repeated in various media reports and was laid out as fact in historical accounts of the building, most visibly on its Wiki page.

"Its glass-enclosed rotunda is its most striking feature in that it was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his firm in New York."

What a story. Louis Tiffany, son of the founder of Tiffany and Company.

What a lie.

Well, not a lie. Just a repeated fact that turns out to not be true at all.

We know that now because of Karl Brunjes, a Northeast Ohio man working on his master's at Ursuline who has definitive proof that it wasn't Louis Tiffany but a Philadelphia stained glass company created by Nicola D'Ascenzo, an Italian immigrant whose work is also in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

Steven Litt has the full story in the Plain Dealer, and you should check it out. A snippet of the investigative work that led to the discovery:

Brunjes pursued the authorship of the stained glass dome as part of a larger thesis project aimed at documenting the complete history of the the Cleveland Trust site, starting with the original downtown plat laid down by Moses Cleaveland's surveyors in 1796.

But while Brunjes was pursuing the main focus of his thesis, he also found himself intrigued that Tiffany's involvement had never been verified.

He examined over 200 containers of Cleveland Trust and Ameritrust bank records at the Western Reserve Historical Society, including meeting minutes of the bank's board of directors from 1894 to 1971.

"If it had anything to do with the building construction or change, I looked through it," he said. "It took forever, or it felt like forever. You're going through entire years and not finding anything."

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