Czech Cultural Garden

Dedicated in 1935, the Czech Cultural Garden tells the story of migrants from the central European region of Bohemia and Moravia through a sculptured frieze depicting the history of the migration of Czechs to the United States.

Landscape architects B. Ashburton Tripp and Maurice Cornell designed the Garden, which has a circular lawn centered on the frieze of Czech history. The frieze is flanked by an Eagle Pylon and a Lion Pylon. Atop the frieze and facing the lawn are busts of Bedrich Smetana, a composer (1824-1884); Dr. Miroslav Tyrs, an educator and organizer of Sokol gymnastic societies (1832-1884); Jan E. Purkyne, an anatomist and physiologist (1787-1869); and Bozena Nemcova, a writer (1820-1862). The garden also contains busts celebrating Frantisek Palacky, a historian and politician (1798-1876); Antonin Dvorak, a composer (1841-1904); the Reverend Jendrich Simon Baar, a priest and novelist (1869-1929); Karl Havlicek, a journalist (1821-1856); and Thomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia (1850-1937). Most of these statues, as well as the frieze, were made by Frank L. Jirouch, a Cleveland-born sculptor of Czech descent.

On April 1, 1939, the President of Czechoslovakia planted two linden trees from Bohemia in the garden. In 1949, the Czech delegation added the Tyrs, Nemcova, and Purkyne busts, and in June 1962, Masaryk's statue was added. At the dedication ceremony, United States Senator Frank Lausche lauded the choice of Masaryk, giving the dedication political resonance in the broader context of the raging Cold War. Lausche stated, that "the love of liberty lives strong in the hearts of the Czechoslovakian people in America. ... Our government will not make any pact for the degradation of Czechoslovak liberty."

Czech immigrants first settled in the flats, later moving to neighborhoods at the edge of the city, such as "Little Bohemia" in the Broadway area from East 37th Street to Union Avenue, as well as the Broadway-Fleet and Clark-Fulton neighborhoods.

Audio

A Visitor from Out of Town Paul Burik describes meeting a visitor from the Czech Republic while working at the Czech Cultural Garden. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
"Peace Through Mutual Understanding" Paul Burik discusses the theme of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Bedrich Smetana's Má Vlast: Vltava (The Moldau) This is an excerpt from Czech composer Bedrich Smetana's Má Vlast: Vltava JB:112/2. Found at International Music Score Library Project
Listening to Antonín Dvorák This is an excerpt from Czech composer, Antonín Dvorák's The Wild Dove, Op, 110. Found at International Music Score Library Project

Images

Kids at Masaryk Unveiling, 1962 Children in traditional Czech dress attend the unveiling of the Masaryk bust in 1962. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Masaryk & Smetana, 2009 The sculpture on the left is of Thomas G. Masaryk; a philosopher, sociologist, and the first president of Czechoslovakia. Behind him is Bedrich Smetana, a composer born in 1824. The Smetana bust (and, originally, the busts of educator Miroslav Tyrs, physiologist Jan E. Purkyne, and novelist Bozena Nemcova) sits atop a 30 x 12 foot frieze depicting Czech migration to America. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities
Masaryk Unveiling, June 1962 This photograph from June 3, 1962 shows a crowd at the Czech Cultural Garden for the unveiling of a bust of Thomas Masaryk. Masaryk fought for Czechoslovak independence and became the country's first President in 1918. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Tree Planting, 1943 A group poses in front of a new tree planted at the Czech Cultural Garden in 1943. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections.
Tree Planting Ceremony, Apr. 1939 Cleveland Mayor Harold Burton (right) and Edvard Benes, then President-in-Exile of Czechoslovakia, attend a Bohemian linden tree planting ceremony at the Czech Cultural Garden on April 2, 1939. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Location

The garden is located on the west side of East Blvd just south of Maury Ave.

Metadata

Cultural Gardens Project Team and Mark Tebeau, “Czech Cultural Garden,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 15, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/107.