Filed Under Parks

Fort Huntington Park

The Cuyahoga County Courthouse was being built on Lakeside Avenue in 1912. As it was being built, no use had been determined for the small plot of land which lay to the west. For many years different ideas were tossed around. One was for a probate court, which was never built. Another idea came from the Early Settler's Association. The Association was looking for a place to build a replica of Fort Huntington, and they knew the original site was near the empty plot of land. It was not until 1937 that the Early Settlers Association dedicated the land as Fort Huntington Park. The park was simple with only a few trees, an urn and an old cannon in the middle. Several times the association discussed reconstructing the fort, but the plan never materialized.

Over the years the park served as a memorial to Fort Huntington, but became overgrown and neglected. Several times the city attempted to use it for its own building needs such as a parking lot and a jail. Each time the Early Settlers Association protested and it remained a park.

In 1977, the city decided to revitalize the park. They put up $75,000 for a complete restoration in time for the 40th anniversary of the first dedication. The plans were a source of contention between the city and the Early Settler's Association. The designer, Berj A. Shakarian, and the council favored a design which reflected the Courthouse next door and its history. The Early Settlers Association insisted on the continued memorialization of Fort Huntington. It had been determined that Fort Huntington actually stood about 500ft northwest of the park, part of the reason the city favored a redesign. Despite the Association's protests, Shakarian's design was put into action. New walkways, benches, a stage, and plants were added. The park commemorated Fort Huntington in name only.

Over the next 30 years, the park would also see the additions of many other new features. In the 1980s the statue of Jesse Owens was added to the southwest corner. In 1991, the Commodore Perry statue was moved from its location in Gordon Park on the south end of Huntington Park. Two years later in 1993, the Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial would be dedicated in the north end of the park. Around 2004, the John T. Corrigan memorial would replace the area on the west end of the park where a stage had once been placed during the revitalization. The park is now a place for remembering Cleveland heroes of many different time periods and and distinctions.

Images

Before Fort Huntington Park The west end of the Cuyahoga County Courthouse around the time of construction. At one time the city panned to build a probate court next to the courthouse but it was never built. It is speculated that the city ran out of money or that the deed restricted the construction. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
CETA Band Set-Up The stage pictured here would be removed thirty years later and the John T. Corrigan statue erected in its place. The Cleveland Landmarks Commission recommended it be placed somewhere more appropriate than this park. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Re-dedication of the Park, 1978 The city, at the request of the Early Settlers Association, put up $75,000 to rebuild the park in 1977. The project designer, Berj A. Sharakian, was also the restoration architect for the courthouse next door. His designs, which coordinated with the courthouse, were put into effect despite strong opposition from the Settler's Association, who wanted to preserve the history of Fort Huntington through the park. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Original Dedication Plaque, 1937 This plaque, commissioned by the Daughters of 1812, Commodore Perry Chapter, was taken from a nearby building to be used during the ceremony. The Early Settlers Association failed to obtain permission to use the plaque from the Daughters of the British Empire. (what happened?) Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Jesse Owens, 1936 The 1936 Olympic Games marked the pinnacle of Jesse Owens' track career. Owens had lived in Cleveland since he was nine, and began breaking world records in junior high. He went on to Ohio State University and to the Olympic Games. There he won four gold medals and broke several more world records in track. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections.
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Metadata

Nick Oreh, “Fort Huntington Park,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 24, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/518.