KOTECKI MEMORIALS was founded in 1896 by Polish immigrant Jozef Kotecki. Trained in Europe as a stonecutter and a blacksmith, Kotecki began selling grave monuments in Cleveland when he was 20 years old. Originally, his business operated from a horse-drawn cart. Kotecki would carve monuments at his home during the night, and then sell them from the cart during the day. This enterprise proved successful, and Kotecki was soon able to move his business to a store at 9606 Miles Avenue, near the CALVARY CEMETERY.
Kotecki’s business, also known as the Calvary Monumental Works, continued to produce gravestones, vaults, and mausoleums into the twentieth century. The company also worked on commissioned monuments for churches and businesses in Cleveland and across the country, such as a monument to Christopher Columbus in LITTLE ITALY, a 24-foot statue of Jesus Christ for the Cleveland Diocese, and Native American statues for the Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin. By the 1950s, the business had expanded to additional locations in BROOK PARK, BEREA, and a new headquarters at 3636 W. 25th Street.
To help with the growing memorial business, Kotecki recruited master sculptors from Europe to his studios in Cleveland. By the 1980s, the Kotecki family claimed to operate one of the largest granite sculpting studios in the nation. At this time, the tools used for sculpting were largely electric, but still required a great amount of force to use. To assist in production, the company purchased a computer operated cutting machine to help carve the outline of the figures, while the detail work continued to be done by hand.
In the 1980s, Edward Kotecki III, the grandson of Jozef Kotecki, became involved in the restoration and preservation of bronze sculptured monuments across Cleveland. Coordinating efforts with the city government and the EARLY SETTLERS ASSOCIATION, Kotecki worked on several monuments across the city, including the MARCUS A. HANNA statue in UNIVERSITY CIRCLE.
In 2017, Kotecki Memorials was still owned and operated by the Kotecki Family. Edward Kotecki IV served as president, and the company’s headquarters was located at 3636 Pearl Road.
Jennifer Graham, Western Reserve Historical Society
Cleveland Plain Dealer