Filed Under Biography

Stinchcomb Memorial

A close friend and editor for the Plain Dealer likened Stinchcomb to Moses Cleaveland and Tom Johnson as a Cleveland icon. Upon Stinchcomb's retirement, the Cleveland Metroparks' chairman of the board stated, "I know of no man to whom the citizens of Cuyahoga County owe more than to William Stinchcomb." This is precisely why Stinchcomb, or "Mr. Metropolitan Park," has a monument erected in his name in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks which he founded, designed, and directed.

William Stinchcomb believed people to be at home in the outdoors, and that urbanites in particular needed access to wilderness and wildlife in order to maintain a healthy life. Stinchcomb stated that "[w]e must have these great outdoor rest places close to a great industrial city such as this is, and as working days grow shorter we must find healthful ways of filling leisure time." As the very first engineer of the Metropolitan Parks System, he was responsible for the ring-shaped design of the refuge that encircles the city of greater Cleveland.

Stinchcomb's idea and design of the Cleveland Metroparks may have been influenced by Boston's Emerald Necklace; a u-shaped system of parks that virtually surrounds the city. Stinchcomb alluded to such an influence by using the term Emerald Necklace as a nickname for the Cleveland Metroparks. The Emerald Necklace of Boston was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a pioneer in landscape architecture, in 1880. Olmsted's sons John Charles and Frederick Law Jr. created the first ever landscape architectural firm, Olmsted Brothers, the same firm hired by Stinchcomb to help create Cleveland's Emerald Necklace in 1915.

In 1922, Stinchcomb undertook a massive reforestation project that consisted of the planting of over 2,500 trees in the Rocky River reservation. During the Great Depression, he employed government organizations including the PWA, WPA, and CCC to improve the parks system and connect the various reservations by making them more accessible to the public through the construction of roads, water mains, and various types of trails.

Stinchcomb retired in 1957 after 35 years as Director of the Cleveland Metroparks. He died the following year after a precipitous decline in health. He was therefore unable to witness the unveiling of his own memorial in 1958. The thirty-foot-tall monument was produced that year with a budget of $8,000. It was collaboratively designed by sculptor William McVey and architect Ernst Payer, and overlooks the first parcel of land that Stinchcomb purchased for Cleveland's metropolitan parks system in 1919. This overlook is just south of the Rockliffe Lane entrance to the Rocky River North Reservation. The monument itself is made of concrete with two speakers near the top for use with the amphitheater, an inlaid red granite bas-relief sculpture of Stinchcomb in profile, and a granite podium with an inscription detailing Stinchcomb's life.

Images

William Stinchcomb in 1931 William Stinchcomb was the man who envisioned, initiated, and directed the Cleveland Metropolitan Parks District (aka the Cleveland Metroparks). He served as director for thirty-five years and was the man who coined the nickname "Emerald Necklace" for the parks system. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Metroparks Director at Work William Stinchcomb was the Director of the Cleveland Metroparks from its inception in 1922 until his retirement in 1957. In this photo, dating to around 1940, he is shown at work in his office which was located in Cleveland's Standard Building. Source: Cleveland Public Library
Emerald Necklace This map shows the very first plans for the Metropolitan Parks System as they existed in 1916. Together, the reservations (thickly outlined) form a ring-shape that surrounds the greater Cleveland area and allude to the nickname "Emerald Necklace" that William Stinchcomb later attributed to the parks. Source: Cleveland Public Library
Overlooking Stinchcomb's First Contribution This is an early photo of the Stinchcomb Memorial located in the Rocky River North Reservation. The monument itself is dedicated to William Stinchcomb, the founder and longtime director of the Cleveland Metroparks, and overlooks the very first plot of land purchased by Stinchcomb for the development of the Cleveland Metroparks. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Stinchcomb's Memorial The Stinchcomb Memorial stands thirty feet tall and was completed in 1958, the year after Stinchcomb's death. The total budget for the construction was $8,000. It is made of concrete and has a granite sculpture of Stinchcomb inlaid on its side. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections

Location

Metadata

Matthew Sisson, “Stinchcomb Memorial,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 13, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/388.