Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Euclid Avenue Congregational Church was the victim of a fire in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Lightning is suspected as the cause. Demolition began within hours. As of noon today, this is all that remained.
Postcard, dated 1909. Courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project
The church, at 9606 Euclid Avenue, was built in 1884-1887. The architects were Coburn and Barnum, a firm responsible for many of the great Euclid Avenue homes. The building was a Cleveland Landmark.
The following text, describing the construction of the church, was published in Church Building Quarterly in 1888. An drawing of the church accompanied the article.
Photo by Virtual Farm Boy, May 8, 2005
The church was very well maintained, as illustrated here, in this photo taken during the construction of the adjacent Cleveland Clinic building.
In the aftermath of the fire, additional photos of the church, including the interior, have been posted on the Cleveland Memory Project. The Western Reserve Historical Society has posted a finding aid describing their archival collections of material relating to the church.
Demolition of the church began shortly after the fire was put out. By 1 pm on Tuesday, considerable progress had already been made.
By 6 pm, this was the scene. Note how much of the wall closest to the Cleveland Clinic had already been lost, as well as the wall closest to the camera. Smoke (or dust) appears to still be coming from the ruins. Here are some more photographs I took of the demolition.
This bell was salvaged from the church. It has been used in each of the three buildings occupied by this congregation. A pile of steel I-beams, likely bound for the recycler, was also separated from the rest of the debris. The remainder of the stone, brick, and other material was being loaded into dumpsters, probably bound for the landfill.
I want to express my sympathies for the congregation that has lost their home, and for the community, which has lost this stunning landmark.
It seems wrong that the building was demolished so quickly. While I understand that the building was beyond the point of repair, and that there were serious public safety concerns, I have to wonder if there wasn't some way pedestrians could have been protected from the potential of falling debris while the situation was given some thought.
Even as a burned-out shell, it was an impressive structure. Could some part of it have been stabilized as a ruin, as has been done with so many historic European churches? The tower of St. Agnes Church, just down the street, was saved, and remains a landmark in the community. Could we not have done something similar with this one?
The Cleveland Landmarks Commission exists to represent our interests in matters such as this. If you find the course of action taken unacceptable, I suggest contacting Robert Keiser (email@example.com), secretary of the Landmarks Commission, and Donald Petit (firstname.lastname@example.org), City Planner.