History of the West
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
George Washington School Sculpture
16210 Lorain Avenue
When we first discovered the "Google Books" search feature, the first search-term we entered was "West Park." It pulled up a 1921 issue of The Architectural Forum with a photo of an impressive sculpture (above) with some unexplained connection with a local school. We were pretty certain we had seen it before. A quick trip down Lorain Avenue confirmed we were right!
These angelic figures have looked down on busy Lorain Avenue from atop George Washington School for nearly 90 years. They commemorate the 1921 opening of the school, way back when West Park was still an independent city. Although the building at 16210 Lorain has not been a public institution since the early 1980s, these ladies maintain their silent vigil, mostly unnoticed by those passing below.
In architectural terms this sculpture is a cartouche; a rounded, convex surface, surrounded with carved ornamental scrollwork enclosing decorative characters. Created by the South Amboy Terra Cotta Company, it is twelve-feet wide and over six-feet high. Terra cotta, a clay-based ceramic, was molded or hand worked to create the piece, then fired and slowly cooled. The sculpture seems to have been unaffected by exposure to decades of northern Ohio weather.
Today the front of the school is hidden behind a Dunkin Donuts–Baskin Robbins shop but, for those who take the time to look, this decorative relic of old West Park is an elegant reminder of days gone by.
---- Gary Swilik
George Washington School building, Lorain Avenue, West Park, OH. April 18, 2010
Email The West Park History website
Updated 3 July 2014