Board of Education Building, Cleveland, Ohio
Housed in an elegant and substantial (yet surprisingly unprepossessing) six-story stone building along East Sixth Street between St. Clair and Rockwell Avenues is the Cleveland Board of Education.
This Beaux-Arts edifice, influenced somewhat by Italian Renaissance effects, serves as the headquarters for the administration of the beleaguered Cleveland Metropolitan School District, often considered one of the more troubled school districts in America. Completed in 1931, the structure was yet one more building helping to flesh out the city’s Group Plan of 1900-1903, which established the overall pattern of civic structures, malls and roadways that prevails throughout the downtown core today. In that Group Plan, the Board of Education Building is joined by The Cleveland Public Library, The Cuyahoga County Courthouse, Cleveland City Hall, The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, The Howard Metzenbaum U. S. Courthouse and by Mall A, with its war memorial statue "Fountain of Eternal Life".
Designed as an articulated tripartite mass by the locally prominent architectural design firm of Walker & Weeks, the structure consists of multiple levels of brickwork topping a substantial and well-orchestrated ground floor of stonework peppered by decorative flourishes. Framed by trees around the building’s perimeter, the structure’s light warm stonework often shimmers golden under the city’s summer sun. The building is also adorned on its interior by the main lobby murals created by artist Cora Holden. The paintings, each 12 by 16 feet in size, depict both the “Branches of Education” and the “Progress of Education”.
In 1932, the school children of greater Cleveland made a grand and stately gift to their Board of Education. Now standing at the center of the Board of Education Building’s west entrance off Mall A stands a statue dedicated to “Abraham Lincoln, Statesman, Patriot, Beloved Citizen of the United States of America”.
The standing figure of Lincoln, the creation of sculptor Max Kalish, is shown bareheaded and rather purposefully leaning forward with outsplayed hands, clutching some papers, as if earnestly projecting a speech to his fellow countrymen. (Though the text of the Gettysburg Address is inscribed on the statue’s base, it is believed that, unlike the statue, Lincoln wore his signature stovepipe hat when exhorting the crowd on that fateful Pennsylvania battleground.)
Stroll around this building to truly appreciate all of its exterior design and detailing.
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