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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND CULTURAL GARDEN FEDERATION - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The CLEVELAND CULTURAL GARDEN FEDERATION oversees the Cultural Gardens, landscaped gardens with statuary honoring various ethnic groups in Cleveland situated along East Blvd. and Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.

Dedication ceremonies at the American Cultural Garden, July 1943. Courtesy of the Plain Dealer.

The CCGF was founded in 1925 as the Civic Progress League by LEO WEIDENTHAL†, who, during the dedication of the Shakespeare Garden in ROCKEFELLER PARK in 1916, felt that similar sites should be prepared for each of the city's nationality communities. In 1926 the organization became the Cultural Garden League, and a Hebrew garden was established. On 9 May 1927 the city set aside areas of Rockefeller Park for future gardens. The Italian, German, Lithuanian, Slovak, and Ukrainian gardens were established in 1930; the Polish, Hungarian, Czech, and Yugoslav gardens in 1934; and the American, Rusin, Irish, Greek, and Syrian gardens in 1938. Romanian, Estonian, Afro-American, Chinese, Finnish, and Indian gardens have since been created. Planning and fundraising for each garden was undertaken within the various ethnic communities, while the Cleveland Cultural Garden Fed. (the name adopted in 1952) oversaw overall planning and coordinated various joint programs, including the 2nd UNESCO Conference (1949) and the annual One World Day (begun in 1945). During the 1960s and 1970s, many gardens suffered vandalism and statuary was removed for safekeeping. In 1985-86 a major restructuring of the area was undertaken and plans discussed for rehabilitating the gardens by the federation, including 40 members from the affiliated nationalities. In the 1990s, the federation's bylaws were rewritten so that each member group had 2 members and an alternate member on the Federation Board. Richard J. Konisiewicz served as president of the federation, which maintained 25 sites in 1995.

Cleveland Cultural Garden Fed. Records, WRHS.

Lederer, Clara. Their Paths Are Peace (1954).

Last Modified: 27 Mar 1998 10:14:45 AM

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