BOULEVARD SCHOOL CELEBRATES ITS CENTENNIAL

Shaker Square children can attend the Shaker Heights schools. That's an arrangement that goes back to September 1912 and a swap of school areas between the Boards of Education of the City of Cleveland and Shaker Heights. Until Ludlow Elementary was built in 1928, Boulevard School was the public elementary school for all the Square's children. Today children of Shaker Square families still attend Boulevard School. We salute its century of service.  AB

 
Above: Boulevard School in 1914
Courtesy of the Shaker Historical Society
Right: the boulder, placed in a bed of daffodils, to mark the school's centennial.
 

The school before Boulevard School

Shaker Village was formed in June 1911 by property owners in the most southern part of Cleveland Heights voting to  detach from Cleveland Heights. The Van Sweringen Real Estate sales office on the northeast corner of Shaker Boulevard and Lee Road served as the  village's office.  Its address was 2889 Lee Road.

On October 27, 1911 in a special referendum a small number of Shaker Village voters (one report says only 14) decided to form Shaker Heights Village. They left behind the western end of the Village - from east of the Baldwin Reservoir to East 127th Street - streets of small homes owned by immigrant craftsmen and factory workers. The neighborhoods left behind would soon decide to join Cleveland.

The minutes of the Shaker Heights Village Board of Education show the renting of three  classrooms in that building. They also tell of hiring two female teachers at $600 annual salary each, plus a male teacher who would also be the principal for $800.

About the two photos:

The upper photo, taken in 1913, is from the collection of the Shaker Heights Historical Society. It was in the photo album of an early Shaker Heights resident.

The lower photo, taken in 2013, shows that the building is gone. The land is  owned by Shaker Heights.

 

 

1913 - The Plain Dealer reports on the Shaker Heights "Group Plan"

The Real Estate pages of the Sunday Cleveland Plain Dealer of December 12, 1913 reported on the Shaker Heights Group Plan.

Probably inspired by Cleveland's famous Group Plan of 1903 by Donald Burnham and others, it proposed a collection of civic buildings south of Boulevard School.

That plan never materialized.

Shaker Heights Village began with its eastern border just past Horseshoe Lake and its southern border south of South Woodland Boulevard. Soon annexations to the east and to the south would extend those borders. In the larger Shaker Heights the proposed group of buildings was no longer in the center; it was now in the northwest corner.

In the 1930's a cluster of civic buildings would be developed near Lee Road and Van Aken Boulevard: a city hall, police station and a library.

Why did the description of the school pay so much attention to ventilation? Perhaps because Shaker Heights (and Cleveland Heights as well) emphasized that their elevation meant clean fresh air, an escape from the dust and smoke of the city. Fresh air was a civic value. It was also a time when the idea of the open air school was gaining popularity. 

 

 
 

The 5th and 6th grades, in front of Boulevard School. circa 1915
Photo courtesy of the Shaker Historical Society

This is a combined 5th and 6th grade class. In the back row are the teacher at the left and the school principal, who also taught a two-grade class, at the right.

Why the imbalance: 13 boys and only 5 girls?  Were girls of this age more likely to attend private or parochial schools?

Would children of wealthy families have gone to Boulevard School? Probably not. The private schools Hathaway Brown, Laurel School and University School were near Wade Park and well established. In the 1920s they moved to Shaker Heights, building on land given by the Van Sweringens.

There are more class pictures on the Shaker Historical Society website. They show that by 1920 grades were no longer combined, a sign that enrollment had grown substantially.

It would be interesting to learn the students' names and discover more about them. Where did they live? Where did they go after leaving Boulevard School? As Shaker Heights had no high school, the Board of Education would pay tuition to send a child elsewhere.

If you are a descendant of one of these students, please contact us.

 

How the Shaker Heights School District has grown   1914 and now

The above map of the Shaker Heights City School District is on their website. link .....   Today's Boulevard Elementary School area is in pink in the upper left (northwest) corner. By 1914 the eastern border of the Shaker Heights had moved to Warrensville Center Road. It had also grown to the south - but not all the way to Chagrin (then Kinsman).

A 1914 map shows Shaker Heights almost fully "platted" - divided into plots for sale - but few homes had been built. Homes couldn't be constructed on a street until it was prepared and utilities available, and that would take time.

On streets such as Kendall (then East 128th), Huntington and Eaton almost no building permits were issued until after 1915 and most of them in the 1920s and later.

The same was true in the area in Cleveland now known as Shaker Square, which extends from Larchmere Road south to the western portion of the Ludlow neighborhood.

To finance the construction of Boulevard School the Board of Education sold $60,000 in bonds (equal to $1,400,000 today) to be paid off over 15 years. Their investment was justified. The population of Shaker Heights, less than 1,000 in 1914, grew to nearly 18,000 by 1930. (It is roughly 28,000 today.)

Since Boulevard School, the Shaker schools have built seven more elementary schools, two junior highs, a high school and an administration building.

 

Aerial Views 1923 and 2014

This above aerial view looking north is from Bob Placek via Jeff Buster's blog. link.  We date it 1923 because the house due east of the school was built in 1922 and the house (not shown) at the southeast corner of Shaker Blvd. and Southington was built in 1924. How do we know that? The maps on real estate website Zillow.com show addresses. The new website Shaker Building Card Index takes addresses and returns building permit dates and much more. The image at the right is 2014 Google Maps.

 

Views of the Building

 
Learn more on these pages

See the 1910 census data for the area that became Shaker Heights   link ....

How Shaker Village broke away from Cleveland Heights in 1911   link....

How in 1912 the area now called Shaker Square, which is in the City of Cleveland, came into the Shaker Heights Schools  link ....

The site of the first school and village hall.  link .....

Racial diversity came to the Shaker schools in the 1960s when the Ludlow neighborhood pioneered in welcoming African-American homebuyers. link....

Learn more on other websites

Shaker Heights Schools website and its centennial proclamation

School district map on the Shaker Heights schools website (PDF)  link ....

The Shaker Historical Society's page "Happy Birthday Boulevard School"

The Shaker Building Card Index website gives building permit dates and much more.

More on open air schools   Wikipedia

As of May 2, 2014

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