By Ken Goldberg
Most Clevelanders who have been in the area a short time have heard of
Public Square, Shaker Square, and Playhouse Square. But "Stadium Square?"
This was a term tossed about quite extensively in the Heights area in
the 1927-28 period. It could come alive once again if city merchants and/or
residents or city planners would let it, for it refers to a small "section"
of Cleveland Heights with no other distinctive name.
The "Stadium Square" phrase referred specifically to the vicinity
of the complex of two commercial /apartment blocks and two adjoining apartment
houses at South Taylor Road and Superior Park Drive, named accordingly
because of a planned stadium for a hillside site at South Taylor and Superior
Roads. The stadium went the way of a great university planned for the
Tremont neighborhood in the 19th century, a Cleveland College for University
Circle, and a jetport for Lake Erie -- they never happened.
Planned to be built on little-developed parkland - 110 acres of city-owned
ravine, including Cumberland Park and what was later to be named Cain
Park - the stadium was to be amid a 1920s neighborhood, with older homes
on Taylor, Superior and the streets between Blanche Avenue and Euclid
Heights Boulevard. Comfortable, picturesque homes were built on Blanche
and Superior Park from 1923, on land previously owned by the Minor and
several other families.
Site Was a Natural
The city had bought land for a park in 1916 for $100,000. But in the mid
'20s - an era of an expanding sports-enthusiastic population, and also
a period when Cleveland's main sport events were held at League Park in
Hough - a segment of the Heights population desired their own stadium.
This was to be a sizable structure for municipal events -- such as high
school athletics, musical events, pageants or civic gatherings such as
for 4th of July fireworks -- on a natural amphitheatre site. The structure
was first proposed by the Heights Kiwanis Club in 1927 and endorsed by
the newly organized Exchange Club as well as the Heights Press in 1928,
after a bond to finance the stadium won the majority of votes the previous
November but failed to receive the necessary 55 percent of the total vote
(losing by 67 votes).
As the media stated that "engineers who have inspected it (the
site) say that it is one of the finest natural locations for a stadium
they have ever seen" and that the stadium would be " capable of seating
upwards of 12,000 people" [the figure is stated elsewhere as 14,000]
and would thereby "afford the largest out-of-doors gathering space on
the Heights or in the entire eastern section of Greater Cleveland,' a
second bond issue for $125,000 was placed on the ballot in November, 1928.
In fact, a local newspaper article stated in September of that year that
"while the financial condition of the city [Cleveland Heights] is now
so good that these bonds could be issued without going to the voters with
the question, the members of council feel that the people should be given
an opportunity to express their opinion in the matter." It was anticipated
that revenue from the completed stadium would cover all maintenance costs
and "probably...wipe out in time the cost of construction."
Town's New Center
The stadium could have been adjacent to the new high school, but construction
would have been far more costly. An Oct. 12th editorial stated: "While
residents of the older section of the Heights may think this location
as somewhere far out, it will soon be the center of the population, as
the fastest growing section of the Heights now lies beyond it.' Cleveland
Heights had grown in ten years from a population of 15,000 to approximately
45,000, and in 1928 (according to some sources) had the lowest tax rate
of any city in the country.
The November ballot also included a $1 million bond issue for the expansion
of school buildings. The City of Cleveland was urging a bond issue of
$2.5 million for a stadium on the lakefront -- a stadium to seat 75,000
Yet despite much glowing commentary in the news media that reflected
great confidence in the stadium issue, it again lost out in November 1928,
not even claiming a majority of the voters.
The school bond issues won easily and, soon after, its chief purposes
were carried out -- the construction of Monticello Junior High and the
addition of ten rooms to the still very new Oxford School. A Shaker Heights
school bond issue, primarily to finance construction of a new high school,
was even more successful.
Tudor Complex Built
But meanwhile a whole Tudor complex was envisioned and constructed at
South Taylor and Superior Park Drive. Built by the Roseman family, major
property owners in the vicinity for many years beyond, the complex closely
resembled the style of commercial/apartment complexes on East 140th Street
in Cleveland, in Shaker Heights, Lakewood, and in Rocky River -- all from
the late '20s.
The Stadium Square real estate complex was planned in five sections.
The fifth did not materialize as originally planned, but the two business/apartment
blocks and apartment buildings facing each other on Superior Park were
complete by September 1928, and all blended in with the late "20s English-style
homes in the area. The only other large building on South Taylor was the
public school, until the modified Tudor-style Cedar-Taylor Building was
constructed in 1929.
The Stadium Square complex was clearly intended to set a "high-class'
tone (as an October 1928 editorial inferred) for the section and was an
"upwards of $2,000,000 investment.' The editorial also stated of this
highly detailed and ambitious group of buildings: "...Mr. Roseman...at
no time sacrificed quality. He has insisted upon quality in design as
well as in materials. His buildings are artistic as well as useful. They
are of a design fitting them to be part of a high-class residential section.
The...buildings are a striking demonstration of the fact that beauty can
be combined with utility. Their amazing commercial success [all stores
and the over-100 apartments rented immediately] proves that such insistence
upon architectural merit pays in dollars and cents as well.'
Apartments and Stores
Apartment building names were Morley Hall, Essex Court, Barclay Court,
Essex Hall, Superior Park and Monroe. The eight stores to open that month
were to include, according to a Heights Press article: "a large and well-equipped
drug store, a wholesale and retail fruit store, a hardware store, a creamery,
a delicatessen, a dry goods and gents furnishings store, a chain grocery
store, a shoe repair shop and a radio store.'