Great Lady Down
In 1976 she stood stately and tall, glistening in the distance, bathed in sunlight, aglow with reflections from Lake Erie, as I curved into the I-90 and I-271 split. I felt elated each time I made this trek toward home. Knowing that the “Great Lady” that I was approaching, was ready to welcome me home and offer me the accoutrements of luxurious lakefront living as soon as I reached the garage entrance.
By now you may have guessed that I not referring to a human female, or a submarine that was the subject of a book and movie with a similar title. That title was “Grey Lady Down”.
The “Great Lady” was there to welcome me to greatly coveted and indisputably, THE place to live at that time and for many years thereafter. She offered the area’s most spectacular views, often referred to as million dollar views of Lake Erie. The views were amazing year round with sunlight dancing off the bright blue waters during summers. The equally amazing winter views were of light dancing off the ice crystals of snow covered frozen Lake Erie. In addition to the views, there were the unmatched amenities of apartment homes that spared no luxuries. The suites were the largest in the greater Cleveland area, offering mostly expansive wall to wall windowed living rooms, some that were sunken. There was not much else residents could want in the suites.
The large luxurious 2-4 bedrooms suites had bathrooms with both separate walk-in showers and large bathtubs. The master bedrooms had attached private bathrooms and large walk-in closets. All of the suites were carpeted with high quality fabrics in the residents’ choice of colors. Each suite contained its own cooling and heating units that the resident controlled. These items assured residents their own individualized levels of comfort.
The eat-in tile floored kitchens had high end appliances that included 2 doored refrigerators, dishwashers, steel sinks, gas stoves, and garbage disposals. Many kitchens had mesmerizing views of the lake through either a door into the dining room or a window overlooking the living room.
The lake facing suites also provided stunning sunset views through their floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows. In certain suites the lake was even visible from the bathrooms and closets. Stating that many suites had views from every room was very much accurate. The westward facing suites, in addition to the Lake Erie views had the views of the sparkling nighttime views of Euclid and other suburbs. Many residents who had the sunken living rooms would often say that the views from the dining rooms made them felt like they were on a cruise ship.
Even the amenities that were often found on cruise ships were part of life with this “Great Lady”. Some of those amenities included his and her fitness rooms with state of the art equipment, steam saunas and Whirlpool tubs. A special amenity was the large heated indoor pool. Additional amenities included movie theaters, billiards rooms, card rooms, chess and other games rooms, and hobby rooms with tools for various crafts. We also had town hall rooms for small group meetings. For larger gatherings, who could forget the elaborate party rooms, fitted with kitchens and bar areas, in the both buildings? The party room in the west tower boasted of views of Lake Erie. Many non-residents would rent the party rooms for very special occasions such as wedding receptions.
Before heading to their wedding receptions, many couples would head for the beautiful lobby to pose for their wedding pictures on the spectacular dual staircase that was adorned with a huge wooden ship’s wheel in the center of the landing. Above the staircase was a gorgeous crystal chandelier that sweetly chimed from winds that blew in when the lobby doors opened.
One of the little known and most unusual, but greatly appreciated amenities was located on the lower level of the 2 level underground heated garages. That amenity was a 2 bay carwash, complete with vacuums. The rest of the garage area provided assigned heated and lighted parking spaces.
With so many great amenities, many residents chose to make this complex their permanent homes. With large secure storage rooms with assigned storage lockers located on the lower level, people could feel at home, having spaces to store items that were not always needed in the suites.
Indeed the complex was a “Great Lady”. That reference leads me to now say that the “Great Lady” was somewhat of a ship. Ships were often assigned a female gender. She was the flagship of a previously great group of apartment complexes. At the time this “Great Lady" was known as the Watergate. I was told that she had been named after the (before the scandal) famous Watergate complex in Washington, DC.
When a resident would state that they lived at the Watergate, listeners would react with oohs and wide eyes. They would then often say, you must be somebody important! There was cause for such an assumption. The complex had a reputation of being “exclusive and selective” with residents mostly being high income professionals and “high profile” people that included’ highly paid athletes from Cleveland sports teams such as the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians, Many of the other ‘high profile’ residents were from the various media companies, mostly radio and television.
I still have fond memories of one of those high profile media personalities. That person was the now deceased William (Bill “Smoochie”) Gordon. As neighbors we became workout and running buddies. He often mentioned that he could not imagine living anyplace else in the Cleveland area. He never did, because he died looking out at Lake Erie as he exercised in his suite.
The complex has changed significantly with the loss a positive reputation and of all of the terrific amenities except the Lake Erie views, and most of the high profile residents. Now the “Great Lady”, first renamed North Pointe. has gone through another name change. The former “Great Lady’” is now named The Vista. The word vista can be defined as the view. The still mesmerizing views are all that is left of the once “Great Lady”. For so many residents now, the vistas at The Vista are no longer enough.
The name changes have occurred with a purpose of re-branding the complex. Re-branding the complex is part of an effort to eliminate the not so kind reputation that the “Great Lady“ has recently experienced. I withhold my thoughts about the potential success of re-branding that “Great Lady“ that is now DOWN.
Rose M. Allen
Rose M. Allen is a 43 year resident of Euclid, who moved to Euclid from Upstate New York. She has lived in many areas of the United States. She has also frequently share her visons for Euclid as a thriving lakefront community.