FRANKLIN CIRCLE

FRANKLIN CIRCLE, on the near west side, is one of the few examples of radial planning in Cleveland. Franklin Place, as it was originally known, was surveyed in 1836 and dedicated to public use by early landowners JOSIAH BARBER and RICHARD LORD. It had a radius of 140' and until 1857 was used as an open-air farmers' market. That year CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL appropriated the circle to park use, leaving a street 30' wide around the perimeter. In 1872 Cleveland's newly created Board of Park Commissioners set out to "resurrect and beautify" the circle. Franklin St. was laid through the center of the park, the circle was graded, trees and shrubbery were planted, and a stone pavilion took the place of the old wooden one. The area was nicknamed "Modoc Park" and gained a reputation as a political forum; the young congressman Wm. McKinley spoke there. The FRANKLIN CIRCLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH was erected on the south side of the circle and dedicated in 1883. Prominent citizens built fine homes in the vicinity, among them JAS. F. RHODES and MARCUS A. HANNA. In 1907-08 the Forest City Railway Co. extended its line through the circle. Two large yellow-brick apartment houses, the Beckwith (now demolished) and the Heyse, were built facing the circle, whose importance as a social center dwindled. With the proliferation of the automobile, Franklin Circle eventually was given over entirely to asphalt paving, so that its original, imaginative design was all but obliterated. Some of its former charm was restored in the 1980s with the planting of trees and removal of some of the asphalt paving to expose the bricks underneath.


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