Euclid through a fresh set of eyes

I have a confession to make: I’m not much of a “city” person. I’ll take small town living or a rural setting over big city excitement any day of the week. But small towns and rural areas do have one great flaw; lack of employment opportunities. So here I am, a small town boy in a big city setting who is very thankful to be employed.

Now, if I’m going to be “stuck” in the city for any length of time, I’m finding that Euclid is one of the better locations in which to live. Its diverse cultural, racial, and religious make up leave the door open for growth through understanding—provided you are an open-minded person who is looking to learn.

The city’s location on the shores of Lake Erie is an often-overlooked attraction. Euclid has a decent system of public transportation to get to points inside and outside its borders. Housing is affordable, shopping choices are sufficient, and public recreation opportunities abound. But I’m discovering that there is more to Euclid than meets the eye, which sweetens the deal even more.

Several weeks ago, my car was in the shop for repairs over the weekend and I found myself looking for something to do. I pulled my bike out of the basement, dusted it off, filled the tires, and rode off to see what I could discover.

First stop: the Cleveland Buddhist Temple on Euclid Avenue. It was closed at the time of my arrival, but there is an Ohio historical marker outside the building that I took a few minutes to read. Here’s a condensed version of what it says:

“…Japanese-American Buddhists, who resettled in the Cleveland area in 1943-44 after being released from World War II internment camps, established the oldest continually meeting Buddhist organization in Ohio…The Temple welcomes all those wishing to study the teaching of the Buddha.”

The next stop was the Euclid Historical Museum on North Street. I chained my bicycle to the front railing of this beautiful old building and made my way inside. I was greeted by a kindly, somewhat quiet gentleman, and asked to sign in. At first, my private tour guide just followed me around silently while I looked at the various clippings and pictures of Euclid’s history that you encounter in the entrance of the museum. When I asked about the historical significance of some of the pictures, I found my guide to be responsive and well-versed in Euclid history.

Housed in what was once the Euclid High School built in the late 1890s, the museum contains many articles, artifacts, photographs, and publications that tell the stories of bygone eras. A descriptive inventory of all that the museum has to offer would be lengthy, so I’ll just mention a few items that particularly caught my attention.

The museum has a very prominent piece located in the main room of the building. Born in Euclid in March of 1849 was a man by the name of Charles F. Brush. While attending high school at Cleveland Central High, Brush began to develop an arc light system. In the years to follow, Brush continued to improve and expand on his original idea for lighting systems. After college, Brush succeeded in gaining backing from a Cleveland-based company to develop his “dynamo”—an electric generator used to power arc lamps. Brush not only succeeded in patenting his ideas, but also sold lighting systems to several cities with his then state-of-the-art technology. One of Brush’s arc lights can be found in the museum. My informative tour guide told me that the light still worked when it was donated to the museum, but is now no longer functioning. The arc light is a beautiful piece of Americana from the early electrical age and definitely worth seeing.

Another item of interest at the museum is a set of pictures. In the 1920s, a physician by the name of Cunningham believed that breathing pure oxygen could do wonders in helping heal many sicknesses. Around 1929, Dr. Cunningham had a very large spherical building erected in the area of W. 185th and Lakeshore. Another outer building—a normal-looking brick facility—still stands in the area and is now owned by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. The odd-looking main building no longer stands but is captured in the photographs displayed at the museum.

The spherical hospital had a system that filled the interior with pure oxygen so that patients could experience its healing effects during their stay. Known as the Cunningham hospital, patients would arrive for a two-week stay and first be led to a conditioning chamber that adjoined the spherical portion of the hospital. In the conditioning chamber, they would slowly adjust to an ever-increasing supply of oxygen prior to entering the hospital itself. Once inside the hospital, the patient neither left the facility nor had outside visitors for the full two-week duration needed for recuperation. The Cunningham hospital survived for a half decade before doubts of its effectiveness caused its closure.

The Euclid Historical Museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. most days. Call ahead to confirm hours of operation, but make sure that you don’t miss a visit to this treasure. Additionally, if you’re a history or genealogical buff, the Euclid Historical Society welcomes new members, especially those who are interested in taking an active role.

Right up the hill from the museum on Chardon Rd., the Sisters of Most Holy Trinity oversee the Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes. Free and open to the public during restricted hours and dates, this is a great place to go and meditate, regardless of your spiritual affiliation. The actual Shrine and the many places for meditation are located out of doors in a woodland setting. Because of the outdoor setting, the Shrine is only open from May to October. I parked my bike, took a stroll along the path that follows the Stations of the Cross and an outside “walkable” rosary, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of nature. The Sisters also run a dining hall during the Shrine season where meals can be purchased at a reasonable price if you are so inclined to dine there during your visit.

The Shrine, with its outdoor setting, just managed to whet my appetite for getting back to nature, so I rode my bike over to the Cleveland Metropark’s Euclid Creek Reservation. The picnic grounds were filled to capacity with various family reunions, which was a heart-warming sight to see. Riding on a little further, I was able to enjoy the quiet babble of the creek and the sway of the trees in the light breeze. Though the park was crowded, the natural beauty made for a calming experience. If you want to have some solitude at the park, bike riding isn’t the way to go as the more obscure paths are only open to pedestrians. The park is a wonderful asset to our city and offers a nice chance to “get away” without traveling very far.

For my last distraction of the weekend, I took advantage of the free concert of the Smokin Fez Monkeys, which was held on the lawn at the Church of the Epiphany on Lake Shore Blvd. This event turned out to be a fun and interactive event that appealed to a wide range of people, as evidenced by the mix of the audience. The free admission included a “snack” of pulled pork sandwiches with a dozen or more side dishes at the conclusion of the concert. This was one of many free or low cost events that happen within the Euclid city limits on a regular basis.   

What started out as a bad weekend of car trouble for me turned out to be both memorable and enjoyable. Sometimes we look too far for excitement and entertainment only to miss what is offered in our own neck of the woods. I’m already beginning to plan my September Euclid “getaway.” Hmmm, let’s see. I’ve never been to the Polka Hall of Fame but keep saying that someday I’ll get there…

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Volume 1, Issue 7, Posted 3:24 PM, 10.19.2010