Cleveland Board of Education

Description

The Cleveland Board of Education building is located at 1380 East 6th Street on the east side of Mall C. The building serves as the administrative center for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. It was designed by the architectural firm Walker and Weeks and completed in 1931. It is similar to the other buildings on the Mall in that it was designed in the Classical, Beaux-Arts style.

The statue of Abraham Lincoln on the west side of the building facing the Mall was paid for by donations from the schoolchildren of the Cleveland School District. It was sculpted by Max Kalish. The Gettysburg Address is carved on the base of the statue. The Board of Education building is also noted for its two murals in the main lobby: "The Progress of Education" and "The Branches of Education." Cleveland artist Cora Holden painted both murals.

The Cleveland Board of Education building completed the Group Plan's vision for the Mall. Originally, the Mall was supposed to replace Public Square as the center of downtown. The Mall was an expression of the Progressive Era and the City Beautiful Movement. City planners were dismayed by the social upheaval caused by the rapid industrialization of the previous decades and sought to fix the social ills associated with it. The aim of both movements and the Progressive Era was to reinvent cities as urban paradises which would inspire citizens to achieve the ideals of public duty and loyalty.

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Construction, 1930

Construction of the Cleveland Board of Education Building is roughly two fifths finished in this photograph from 1930.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

West Entrance, 1932

At the western entrance of the building, a statue of Abraham Lincoln faces the Mall. It was paid for by donations from the schoolchildren of Cleveland. Initially, Lincoln's First Inaugural Address was carved on the base of the statue, rather than the Gettysburg Address which is there now. It may be surprising, but for a time the Gettysburg Address was not viewed as a classic speech in America's history. Until the mid-20th century, political speeches were long-winded and complicated, while the Gettysburg Address only took Lincoln about two minutes to read. It wasn't until the style of American politics changed that the Gettysburg Address became admired. The change in the Board of Education's Lincoln statue reflects this change in a very literal way.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Board of Education Building, 1962

The Board of Education Building was built in the Beaux-Arts style that was so popular in the U.S. from 1880 to 1920. The Beaux-Arts style is neoclassical, drawing from ancient Rome for inspiration. It is characterized by grand entrances and stairways, arched windows and doors, and classical details such a garlands, cartouches, and figures in Greco-Roman robes. Other buildings in this style, like City Hall and the County Courthouse, surround the Mall.

This photograph was taken amid the decline of Cleveland's urban population which resulted in decreasing tax revenues for the school district.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland State Special Collections

Cora Holden, 1926

Cora Holden painted both murals ("Progress of Education" and "Branches of Education") in the main lobby of the Board of Education Building. This photograph shows her with the murals she painted in the Allen Memorial Medical Library on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. She attended the Cleveland School of Art where the director, Georgie Norton, called her a "phenomenon."

Image Courtesy of Dettrick Medical History Center

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“Cleveland Board of Education,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 29, 2014, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​303.​
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