University Circle: A Cultural Necklace

This tour explores the collection of cultural institutions that surround Wade Park in Cleveland's University Circle neighborhood.


University Circle, which originated as a trolley turnaround, had its start as Cleveland's cultural center in the 1880s when Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology (two institutions that later merged to form Case Western Reserve University) moved to the area, and when Jeptha Wade, one of the founders of Western Union Telegraph Company, donated to Cleveland a large tract of land adjacent to the college campuses to be used as a park.


In this era, University Circle was also the residential neighborhood of many of Cleveland's most wealthy citizens.

These citizens supported the founding, or in some instances the relocation, of a number of

cultural institutions to the Circle during a period which stretched from 1898 to 1961.



Western Reserve Historical Society moved to the Circle in 1898, and to its present location on the Circle in 1938-1941.

The Cleveland Museum of Art was built on the Circle in 1916.

In 1930-31, three important institutions were added: Cleveland Botanical Garden, Severance Hall, and University Hospitals.

In the 1961 the "cultural necklace" at Wade Park was rendered complete with the arrival of the Natural History Museum and the Cleveland Institute of Music.


Since 1957, when a master plan began to coordinate future development, University Circle has been a centerpiece of Cleveland's attempts to encourage economic development. Pitched in the 1960s as an important asset for industrial firms contemplating relocation to Greater Cleveland, University Circle reflected efforts to craft a suburban oasis in the city. Today the Circle is a bona fide tourist destination and bustling urban district, thanks to a transformation in institutional planning in the past decade.

Parklike University Circle is the cultural, medical, and educational center of Cleveland's east side. Named after a streetcar turnaround on Euclid Avenue just east of East 107th Street, University Circle attracted Western Reserve University from Hudson, Ohio in the 1880s. The university was…
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On a chilly evening in November 1923, hundreds of Clevelanders gathered for a tour of Fenway Hall, “Cleveland’s New Exclusive Apartment Hotel.” The delegation “inspected everything from the Florentine furniture in the lobby to the nutmeg grater in the kitchen of an eleventh-floor suite” and…
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University Circle United Methodist Church traces its history back to 1831, when the earliest Methodist gatherings in Cleveland were held at Doan's Corners. The church was christened Epworth-Euclid Methodist Church in 1919 with the merger between two historic congregations – Euclid Avenue…
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On September 15, 1921, Martin Daly used a silver spade to break ground near East 107th Street signifying the start of construction on Wade Park Manor, a high-end residential hotel. The announcement of plans for the hotel were made a year earlier by Daly, George Schneider, and Edwin Henn. Projected…
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The Tifereth Israel congregation was established in 1850, making it Cleveland's second oldest active Jewish congregation. It moved to its synagogue in University Circle in 1924, vacating its Wilson Avenue (East 55th Street) Temple dedicated in 1894. Designed by architect Charles R. Greco, the…
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Founded in 1867, Western Reserve Historical Society is the oldest cultural institution in Northeast Ohio, the region's largest American history research center, and one of the leading genealogical research centers in the nation. Additionally, WRHS operates the Hale Farm and Village…
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The Music Settlement offers music lessons to a wide audience, especially underprivileged children, to create a community of artistic expression. Created as part of the settlement movement, the Music Settlement remains one of the largest settlement houses in the country. The settlement movement…
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The Cleveland Institute of Music was founded in 1920 by a small group of backers who each contributed $1,000 to get the music conservatory off the ground. Initially the school focused on student performance. Classes were first taught in the Statler Hotel, then moved to various residences on Euclid…
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The Cleveland Botanical Garden, the first civic garden center in the country and now part of an expanded and renamed entity known as Holden Forests & Gardens, has a growing presence in University Circle. The Garden’s origins date to 1916 when Eleanor Squire donated a large collection of…
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The Cleveland Institute of Art was founded in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. The school began very small, holding classes in the home of its founder Sarah M. Kimball with only one student and one teacher, but it quickly grew. The school, despite its name, did attract a few…
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University Hospitals of Cleveland is a world-class, not-for-profit medical institution with close ties to Case Western Reserve University. Its roots go back to 1866, with the formation of the Cleveland City Hospital Association, a charitable society designed to provide medical care to…
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The Church of the Covenant grew out of the merger of three Presbyterian congregations: Second Presbyterian (established in 1844), Euclid Street Presbyterian (1853), and Beckwith Memorial Presbyterian (1885). In 1903, Beckwith Memorial Presbyterian Church was confronted with financial misfortune.…
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Severance Hall, the permanent home of the Cleveland Orchestra, was built between 1929 and 1931. Its completion represents over $7 million in donations from both the Cleveland public and philanthropists, as well as a land grant from the Western Reserve Society. Influential people such as John D.…
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The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the foremost art museums in the world, having outstanding collections of Pre-Columbian, medieval European, and Asian art. It opened to the public in 1916 on Jeptha H. Wade's Wade Park property in University Circle. Constructed in the Neoclassical Revival…
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