NELA PARK, at Noble and Terrace roads in EAST CLEVELAND, is one of the earliest (if not the first) planned industrial research parks in the nation. It was conceived in 1910 by Franklin Terry and Burton Tremaine, officers of the Natl. Electric Lamp Co., which soon became the lamp division of GENERAL ELECTRIC. NELA is an acronym for Natl. Electric Lamp Assn. The site was selected in 1910, a small plateau 234' above Lake Erie, with some dense woods and a picturesque ravine. The building program began in 1911 and was entrusted to one architect in order to achieve a consistent scheme. The architects for all the buildings begun before 1921 were Wallis & Goodwillie of New York. Frank E. Wallis, a student of English and Colonial architecture, did further studies of Georgian architecture in the south of England in preparation for the planning. The buildings were erected by the AUSTIN CO., whose work at Nela Park led directly to the standardization of construction methods in industrial building. The complex was very advanced in its handling of mechanical systems, with underground tunnels for all utilities.
The main conception of the campuslike park is a perfect representation of the early 20th-century academic ideal. The office and laboratory complex includes 20 major buildings and several smaller structures located in a landscaped park of approximately 90 acres. The prevailing style is Georgian Revival, and all but 4 of the major buildings were built between 1911-21. Four of them are arranged around the Quadrangle, which dominates the architectural scheme of the park. The largest building is the Lamp Laboratory on the south end, and the west side is closed by the Institute (1921), which has a 72' bell tower and a Georgian facade facing a circular pool, with a bronze statuary group symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. The entire area was landscaped according to plans developed at the outset. In 1988 the Lighting Institute was completely renovated. With 1,200 employees in 1995, the complex served as world headquarters of GE Lighting, one of the corporation's 12 divisions. One of the best-known and most popular aspects of Nela Park has been its annual electrically illuminated Christmas display.