Filed Under Parks

Fort Huntington Park

Reframing a War Memorial

As the Cuyahoga County Courthouse was being built on Lakeside Avenue in 1912, 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 Settlers 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. The city attempted several times to use it for its own building needs such as a parking lot or a jail. Each time the Early Settlers Association protested and it remained a park.

In 1977, the city decided to revitalize the park. It 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 Settlers 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 500 feet 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

Perry cannon in Huntington Park
Perry cannon in Huntington Park A British naval cannon captured by Commodore Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie, now in Fort Huntington Park. Source: Ohio Outdoor Sculpture
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Monument,
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Monument, "Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, 'the Hero of lake Erie,' was the gallant guardian of the Great Lakes when he fended off the British Navy in Lake Erie. His leadership also contributed to all nine victories in the campaign of Lake Erie. This campaign proved to be a turning point in the War of 1812. His brave victories are remembered all over the United States." Source: Ohio Outdoor Sculpture Creator: William Walcutt
Jesse Owens, Olympic Champion
Jesse Owens, Olympic Champion "Jesse Owens is one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century. Apart from winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in Nazi Germany, he is also known for breaking three world records and tying one in the span of 45 minutes at a Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor in 1935. Part of Owens' legacy supersedes sports as well. He is known for having upset Hitler by completely destroying the narrative of Aryan supremacy by being a black man accomplishing historic feats of athleticism right in the capital of Nazi Germany." Source: Ohio Outdoor Sculpture Creator: William M. McVey
John T. Corrigan Memorial
John T. Corrigan Memorial "A Memorial statue to 35 year Cuyahoga County Prosecutor John T. Corrigan. Corrigan spent over 50 years of his 91 year life devoted to service of the American people and the people of Cleveland as a soldier, senator, and prosecutor. His statue wears a plain, American-cut business suit with a pocket square and full Windsor-knotted tie. Characteristically 50's thick frame glasses and a leather briefcase complete his professorial look. He stands, without a pedestal, two feet on the ground just like the viewer. His open mouth denotes that he is captured mid-sentence, and his mild-mannered gestures show his professional finesse." Source: Ohio Outdoor Sculpture
Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial
Greater Cleveland Peace Officers Memorial "A memorial plaza in Fort Huntington Park, consisting of benches, standing stones, and a rising curve, all made of polished black marble. Each part of the monument is imprinted with bold white text celebrating the sacrifice of the Greater Cleveland Police Officers, The imposing, reflective black slabs act as a colossal headstones memorializing the officers. The viewers can see themselves in the shiny surface of the rock, as a shadow behind the names; only able to view the monument because of the sacrifice of those named within." Source: Ohio Outdoor Sculpture
Before Fort Huntington Park
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. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
CETA Band Set-Up
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
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
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.

Location

W Lakeside Ave and W 3rd St, Cleveland, OH

Metadata

Nick Oreh, “Fort Huntington Park,” Cleveland Historical, accessed February 21, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/518.