Greek Cultural Garden

Greeks form a small but cohesive ethnic group in Cleveland. Panagiotis Koutalianos, a fabled "strong man," is said to have been the first Greek to settle in Cleveland in the 1880s. Between 1890 and 1925, another 5,000 Greeks settled in Cleveland. Many settled in "Greek Town"; an area around Bradley Ct. off Bolivar Rd. between Erie (E. 9th) St. and Ontario St. A second Greek community evolved along Woodland Ave. and E 79th St. The only Greek settlement on the west side was located in the Tremont neighborhood (bounded by W. 14th St., Fairfield Ave., W. 11th St. and Clark Ave.). This community was not formed primarily by recent arrivals from Europe though. Instead, it consisted largely of Greeks who moved to Tremont from "Greek Town". By the 1920s Cleveland's Greek population was around 5-6,000. Following WWII the population doubled, reaching approximately 10,000.

From the beginning, the Greek Orthodox Church was the cultural, social and educational center of the Greek community. Five schools were established alongside the churches. In the 1920s and 30s, classes were held after public school for 3 hours a day. Children learned language, history, literature, religious catechism, and performed in plays, presented songs, participated in dances and recited lengthy poems and dialogues - all in Greek. Today, Annunciation Greek Orthodox School's graduates' credits are accepted without examination by the public schools of Greece.

Laid out in the shape of a cross, the Greek Cultural Garden was formally dedicated on June 2, 1940. Dignitaries leading the ceremony included the Greek Minister to the United States, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas, Mayor Harold Burton and future Cleveland Mayor and United States Senator Frank Lausche.

Two Doric columns frame the garden's entrance, opening into a plaza containing a reflecting pool that offers a perspective on a wall and pylons which symbolize the wall of the Parthenon. Stone tablets on the wall and on pylons are inscribed with the names of prominent Greek artists, philosophers, writers, and scientists: Aristophanes, Pericles, Euripides, Homer, Socrates, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Pindar, Archimedes, Herodotus, Euclid, Hippocrates, Ptolemy and Pythagoras, to name but a few. Framing the symbolic wall are two paths that encircle it, leading to sandstone terraces that are lavishly planted with ilex, coloneastus, myrtle, and sweetbay. Cedars and Lombardy poplars giving the impression of cypresses provide an additional presence and atmosphere to the garden.

Maurice Cornell was the Garden's architect.

Images

Greek Cultural Garden

Greek Cultural Garden

Two Doric columns frame the garden's entrance, opening into a plaza that offers a view of a wall and pylons (modeled off of the wall of the Parthenon) that are inscribed with the names of prominent Greek artists, philosophers, writers, and scientists. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Doric Columns, 2009

Doric Columns, 2009

Two Doric columns - said to be replicas of the ones at the Parthenon in Athens - frame the entrance to the Greek Cultural Garden. In the background are residences on East Boulevard. Image courtesy of The Center for Public History + Digital Humanities View File Details Page

East Boulevard Entrance

East Boulevard Entrance

Doric columns on East Boulevard show the way into the Greek Cultural Garden Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

A Man in the Garden

A Man in the Garden

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Audio

Bridging the Generation Gap

Andrew Chakalis describes his desire to raise awareness of the Greek Cultural Garden among younger generations of Clevelanders. View File Details Page

"It was Almost Like an Archaeological Dig"

Andrew Chakalis describes the challenges he and others faced in getting the Greek Cultural Garden cleaned up ahead of its 1996 rededication. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

“Greek Cultural Garden,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 25, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/112.

Related Tours

comments powered by Disqus

Share this Story