The WADE PARK ALLOTMENT was a planned residential district immediately to the northeast of DOAN’S CORNERS that covered a large portion of what became UNIVERSITY CIRCLE. Envisioned as Cleveland’s first “garden suburb,” a type later associated with SHAKER HTS., the development was platted in 1885 on land owned by JEPTHA H. WADE adjacent to WADE PARK, which Wade dedicated to the city in 1882, as well as smaller parcels owned by Wade’s grandson JEPTHA H. WADE II and Horace Ford. Its curvilinear streets with botanical names (Bellflower, Cactus, Hazel, Juniper, Lotus, Magnolia, and Mistletoe) conveyed the park ideal and were arrayed around Park Blvd. (later East Blvd.). However, construction was slow to get underway. In 1905, the allotment, whose mostly unsold lots were by that time owned by Wade II, his sister Alice (Wade) Everett, and her husband SYLVESTER T. EVERETT, was re-subdivided to create E. 106th and E. 107th Sts. Wade Realty Co., a firm operated by Jeptha H. Wade III and his brother George G. Wade, was successful in attracting many homeowners from the old “Millionaires’ Row” on EUCLID AVE. Most of the residences in the Wade Park allotment, primarily single-family houses but also some duplexes, were constructed over the next 15 years. As in many other prominent residential allotments in U.S. cities in the early 20th century, Wade Park Allotment was racially exclusionary. When AFRICAN AMERICAN physician CHARLES H. GARVIN moved into a house on Wade Park Ave. in 1925, the house was bombed. That same year, residents formed the Wade Park Committee whose purpose was to bar nonwhites from occupying property in the allotment. By the 1950s, more African Americans began to move into the Wade Park neighborhood, prompting at least three bombings in 1953-54, including the Magnolia Dr. mansion that MT. ZION CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH was in the process of purchasing. Despite these acts of violence, both the church and a number of middle-class black homebuyers were not dissuaded from relinquishing their newfound “surrogate suburb.”
In 1927, when six major institutions formed the University Circle Planning Commission, the organization did not foresee institutional expansion into the residential allotment. However, by the 1950s, redevelopment pressures mounted, leading concerned residents to form the Wade Park Allotment Association, initially to stop a mortuary from taking over a Wade Park Ave. house. In 1957, University Circle institutions commissioned Adams, Howard and Greeley, whose resulting University Circle General Plan called for significant institutional expansion across much of the Wade Park Allotment. Over the ensuing decades, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY (CWRU) demolished many homes to build academic buildings, dormitories, and athletic facilities, especially on the eastern side of the allotment that was becoming a middle-class black enclave. The allotment, along with all of University Circle, LITTLE ITALY, and eastern HOUGH, was placed inside the boundaries of the University-Euclid urban renewal project in 1960. Expenditures for institutional expansions reduced the city’s required match of federal funds for University-Euclid, which largely completed the process of emptying the Wade Park Allotment of its remaining residents. In addition, the VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER (1964) required the razing of ten houses. However, a number of houses, mostly on Bellflower Rd., were adapted for use by CWRU and associated fraternities and sororities. One of the most intact streets, Magnolia Dr., saw the adaptive reuse of most of its homes by various other religious, educational, or cultural organizations.
Among the outstanding surviving houses are the Hay-McKinney Mansion on East Blvd., designed by ABRAM GARFIELD for Mrs. JOHN MILTON HAY (now part of WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY), and the EDMUND S. BURKE house on Magnolia Dr., designed by J. MILTON DYER and now home to the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT. The rapid growth of employment in University Circle also spurred the renovation in 2006-8 of 13 original duplexes in the northwest corner of the former allotment, into upscale single-family homes marketed as Heritage Lane. In an effort to block Mt. Zion Congregational Church’s plan to demolish two houses in 2011, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission designated the Magnolia-Wade Park Historic District, which had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. However, in the decade following the local district designation, at least two demolitions were approved to support other institutions’ needs.
Beautiful Homes of Cleveland. Cleveland: Cleveland Topics Co., 1917. Cleveland Public Library, Fine Arts and Special Collections Dept.
Borchert, James, with Susan Borchert. “Downtown, Uptown, Out of Town: Diverging Patterns of Upper-Class Residential Landscapes in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, 1885-1935.” Social Science History 26 (2002), 311-46.
Michney, Todd M. Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900-1980. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017.
Souther, J. Mark. “Acropolis of the Middle-West: Decay, Boosterism, and Renewal in Cleveland’s University Circle.” Journal of Planning History 10 (2011), 197-218.
Finding aid for the Jeptha Homer Wade Family Papers, WRHS.
Finding aid for the University Circle, Inc., Records, WRHS.
Finding aid for the Wade Park Committee Records, WRHS.