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.

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