Thursday, March 25, 2010

Old Bones on Lake Erie: Cleveland's Coast Guard Station

© Stuart Pearl 2010 (Click Image to Enlarge)

It first appears as a small white art decco shape with graceful curves sitting at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. It has a beautiful tower and swept back walls leading to boat doors and dock facilities.

This is the Cleveland Coast Guard Station. It was designed by architect J. Milton Dyer and finished in 1940. It's construction replaced the government's Life Saving Service which had been previously housed in a smaller Cleveland facility.

I've seen the old station from a distance for years. I had always assumed access was only possible by boat. But this past winter I finally discovered the path to the old station by way of a nice hike through Wendy Park.

Today's empty shell stands in stark contrast to the beautiful property shown in this government photo from the 1950's.

Wendy Park is only a few years old, one of Cleveland's newer recreation areas. The land was purchased by Cuhahoga County in 2004.

It's a bit desolate during the winter but still is a favorite walk for dog owners and others out for some cold weather exercise. It offers some great views of the skyline, waterfront and of course the Coast Guard Station.

To get to this area it's a convoluted trip via the West Shoreway to Edgewater Park, with a further trek down the road to the Whisky Island marina. Once through the main gate you park in the lot an then start hiking.

I prefer the waterfront side north of the volleyball court as it provides distant panorama's of the Coast Guard Station. You eventually top a hill and come down to the old access road flanking the west bank of the Cuyahoga River just north of the railroad bridge.

The city of Cleveland now owns the station, having purchased it in 2004 for $1. Some stabilization of the structures was started last May with debris being removed and paint being added.

Restoration of the roof has also begun with some new support structure visible. The unique architecture strikes me as a combination of Adobe and Decco, with the tower being the most prominent feature visible. I would love to see light blazing from its crown some time in the future.

Boat storage building

Cleveland's skyline is visible from the old boat docks.

With the partial restoration of the station interest has been growing in the park and this area. Others continue to document the region's history in an effort to build enthusiasm for increased public use and recreation.

Christopher Busta-Peck, MLIS, and Christine Borne, MLIS edit Cleveland Area History. It's goal is to raise awareness of history in Cleveland and northeast Ohio. They have some interesting links as well as more photo galleries of the station.

To see more images of Cleveland's skyline and industrial flats visit Stuart Pearl's fine art galleries.