Community Heritage and Identity
From The Master Plan - Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation
Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre are rich in cultural heritage and share an important part in Cleveland history. According to the National Register of Historic Places, “Brooklyn Centre reflects the urbanization of America. The neighborhood's street patterns and buildings illustrate the area's transition from rural hamlet to suburban center to inner city neighborhood.” A number of historic districts, buildings, places of worship and public spaces populate the neighborhoods. Both neighborhoods have distinct identities, associated not only with these historic and cultural elements, but also with the natural features that have helped shape the character and aesthetic of the neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, many of the features that augment the neighborhoods’ sense of place—the historic buildings, the urban fabric, the natural features—have been lost or become degraded as new development has moved in, or are simply not celebrated as they should or could be.
However, the Old Brooklyn Historical Society and the Brooklyn Centre Historical Society work in their respective neighborhoods along with the Cleveland Historical Society to preserve and restore many of these important cultural and historic places. A number of organizations also exist to protect and celebrate the natural features in the area as well, including the Ohio Canalway Corridor, the Friends of Big Creek and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
Considering these needs and assets, four goals were created to celebrate, promote and preserve the unique cultural, historical diversity and identity of the neighborhoods.
Goal 10: Integrate community identity and assets of Old Brooklyn/Brooklyn Centre with that of Ohio & Erie Canalway America’s Byway.
The Canalway America’s Byway® is one of 125 routes in 44 states that are part of the National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP). The NSBP is a federal program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Established in 1991, the program is a grass-roots collaborative effort to help preserve, protect, interpret, and promote the archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and/or scenic intrinsic qualities of selected roads throughout the United States.
America's Byways® is the brand used for marketing the collection of designated routes. The marketing campaign, COME CLOSER, utilizes both print and electronic media. The primary website, www.byways.org, generates millions of hits monthly. On the website, each byway has a feature page, illustrating the route, itineraries, and links. Other print and electronic products include travel guides, media kits, and advertising. The ongoing marketing campaign also includes outreach and education to the travel industry, as well as pursuit of sponsorships to augment advertising budgets.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway byway route was the first scenic byway designated by the State of Ohio, which occurred September 27, 1996. On June 15, 2000, the byway was elevated to the status of a National Scenic Byway. The byway extends from downtown Cleveland to Dover/New Philadelphia, Ohio. In Cleveland, the byway has several main routes, including Broadway Avenue, Independence Road, and Schaaf Road-Broadview Road-Pearl Road-West 25th Street. The routes converge in the Flats, at the future location of Canal Basin Park, which is the site of the original basin constructed at the northern terminus of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway America’s Byway, a driving route, is one of three main methods to explore the 110-mile Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway. The other two methods are the Towpath Trail for bicycling and hiking and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for rail trips.
Create a web-based map highlighting attractions and points of interest along the Byway.
The ability to link websites together enables a small geographic area along the byway to market its attractions and points of interest to a much wider audience. For example, a section on the OBCDC website devoted to this type of content for the two neighborhoods could be linked to and from www.ohioanderiecanalway.com, the official website of the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway. At the Canalway Ohio website, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is already listed as a destination. Discussions could be held with the website’s manager, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association (OECA), to determine if additional material on the two neighborhoods could be added.
Finally, the Canalway website is already linked to the National Scenic Byways Program feature page on the Canalway, which opens a small geographic location to another marketing area. A Google search of “scenic byway” returns more than 550,000 results, and the first result is the National Scenic Byways Program.
In addition to being accessible to visitors nationally and internationally (about 10% of Cuyahoga Valley National Park visitors are foreigners), the OBCDC website content could also be directed toward the metropolitan area. The information could help Greater Clevelanders learn more about the byway, attractions, and events close to home.
Participate in the kiosk program of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association to tell important neighborhood stories.
The management and publicity for the Canalway, including the byway, is handled through the OECA. In 2008, a study was completed to design a family of signs that will serve as a comprehensive wayfinding and interpretation system. The new design and color scheme will be introduced when new byway route marker signs are installed in 2009. At the same time, OECA plans to introduce its kiosk program, which is intended to highlight destinations throughout the Canalway with a two-sided structure containing narrative and images. One side of the kiosk will describe the story of the Canalway. The second side will describe the important story where the kiosk is located, such as a building, neighborhood, or natural area. The Canalway Ohio guide map, published several years ago, will be used as a basis for considering kiosk locations. The Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods are included as part of this map. Funding to pay for the kiosks will come from an FHWA grant already awarded to OECA, as well as local sponsorships.
Create programming based on neighborhood heritage and architecture.
In addition to having material available for self-guided exploring, such as a downloadable map, kiosk, brochure, or building plaques, live programming adds another dimension to a visitor’s experience.
For example, the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood has held home tours and garden tours, as well as Riverside Cemetery tours with various themes. Other potential tour projects could feature churches in the two neighborhoods, the South Hills neighborhood, or the greenhouse industry/agriculture/urban gardening in cooperation with the community of Brooklyn Heights.
Ohio Canal Corridor, Inc., the primary nonprofit organization in the northern portion of the Canalway, holds successful summer walking tours of Tremont, the Warehouse District, and the Gateway neighborhood. The Archwood Avenue area, South Hills neighborhood, and the traditional downtowns of both neighborhoods are also potential candidates for walking tours.
Goal 11: Ensure widespread awareness of community assets.
Every community makes an effort to publicize its assets, and in a larger city such as Cleveland, these efforts are multiplied by several dozen neighborhoods engaged in the same work. Connecting with potential visitors and customers requires a disciplined, repetitive, organized effort with the flexibility to reach different segments of the market through a variety of print and electronic media.
Create public relations, promotion, and advertising materials.
The image of a neighborhood can be bolstered by public relations efforts. This work focuses on the overall characteristics of the area, such as neighborhood assets. For Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn, discussed either jointly or individually, public relations would reinforce the topics of easy freeway access, the variety of housing options, the assortment of retail stores and services, and multiple recreational opportunities.
A corresponding effort also needs to be directed toward promotion, which focuses on specific topics within the characteristics described above. Projects receiving promotional efforts would be a new housing subdivision, the restaurant scene, specialty food purveyors, and proximity to the regional bike trail network via the Towpath Trail.
Finally, advertising brings the promotion topic to the target audience. Examples of advertising would include creation of a brochure showing the locations of new housing construction, production of a restaurant guide, and creation of a downloadable map showing preferred bike routes between the Towpath Trail and neighborhood destinations.
Here are several guidelines:
- Utilize print or electronic media for all three levels of activity. Using both often has the benefit of reaching different audiences.
- Combine narrative with graphics and/or maps to create a more visually interesting product.
- Devote attention on an ongoing basis to all three of these activity levels, so that the messages continue to be reinforced with the audiences.
- Make printed materials available at multiple locations, such as all the locations in a restaurant guide, in order to improve distribution, and provide a link to the posted guide from the various restaurants’ websites.
Goal 12: Encourage the recognition and preservation of historically, architecturally, and/or culturally significant structures, places, and districts within the neighborhoods.
Although the phrase “sense of place” has a number of meanings, one general definition is the combination of the natural environment and built environment of a locale, which over time has been imbued with the experiences and meanings that people have brought to it. Big Creek is a valley, and for many, it carries fond memories of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo nestled within its slopes. Archwood Avenue and the Pearl/Broadview intersection are collections of buildings, and they illustrate patterns of domestic life or commerce experienced by many. Recognizing and retaining the distinct physical appearance of a place, along with its stories, can promote a common identity among residents and visitors, which can be used to organize additional community efforts.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has created a set of ten Standards for Rehabilitation. These ten standards were established by the Federal government more than a generation ago to guide programs under the authority of the Department of the Interior and for advising Federal agencies on the preservation of historic properties listed in, or eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places.
The Standards for Rehabilitation have been used extensively. They have guided federal agencies in carrying out their historic preservation responsibilities for properties in federal ownership or control, as well as State and local officials in reviewing both federal and nonfederal rehabilitation proposals. The Standards have also been widely adopted by historic district and planning commissions across the country. For example, the Standards are used to judge the rehabilitation work undertaken for projects qualifying for the federal historic preservation tax credits, which have been used throughout Cleveland’s central business district. The City of Cleveland also uses the Standards to direct decision making in locally designated historic districts.
The Standards define “rehabilitation" as "the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values." The intent of the Standards is to assist the long-term preservation of a property's significance through the preservation of historic materials and features. The Standards pertain to historic buildings of all materials, construction types, sizes, and occupancy, and encompass the exterior and interior of a building. They also encompass related landscape features and the building's site and environment, as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction. The National Park Service has also developed a set of companion guidelines which discuss and illustrate the intent of the Standards as applied to the above topics.
First, however, the memorable features need to be identified, recognized, and retained by using appropriate programs. For Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn, this can mean continuing to identify potential historic buildings and districts, utilize appropriate design guidelines, and promote financial incentives and technical assistance to maintain the architectural character of buildings and their context within the larger area.
Undertake research to identify areas and structures with the potential to be historic districts and buildings.
As discussed in more detail elsewhere in this document, the Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods both contain historic districts. These designations highlight historic and architectural resources, are a useful tool for neighborhood image and marketing, and can be a focus for prioritizing public and private investment.
In Brooklyn Centre, the Brooklyn Centre Historic District highlights three-quarters of a century of development, as the area evolved from a prosperous township center in the mid-19th century to a middle class urban neighborhood in the early 20th century. The district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as a Cleveland Landmark District. These two designations have overlapping boundaries.
In Old Brooklyn, the South Brooklyn Commercial District includes about two dozen commercial buildings radiating from the intersection of Pearl and Broadview Roads. The late 19th and early 20th century buildings are significant for their association with a generation of intensive development within Cleveland, along with the diverse architectural styles that are represented. The district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The two neighborhoods also have several individual buildings that have either been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and/or designated as Cleveland Landmarks.
In terms of potential historic districts, there are several potential opportunities, depending upon neighborhood support:
Expand the boundaries of the existing Cleveland Landmark Historic District to the streets north and south of Archwood Avenue. The benefit of historic district designation by the Cleveland Landmarks Commission is design review for exterior building alterations, as well as review prior to any demolition. This process ensures that work is undertaken with consideration for the architectural character of a structure.
Conduct further research on various portions of the neighborhood. The Ohio Historic Inventory, a statewide program administered by the Ohio Historical Society through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, surveyed Cuyahoga County during the late 1970's and early 1980's and identified a number of properties for further research in two specific areas of the neighborhood:
- Properties north of Interstate 71 and west of Pearl Road.
- Properties in proximity to St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church on Denison Avenue.
Conduct further research on the portion of the neighborhood known as South Hills. The 1985 City of Cleveland, Department of Community development publication National Register Historic Districts – Existing and Potential, outlined a potential historic district roughly bounded by West Schaaf Road (south), Broadale Road and South Hills Drive (east), Saratoga Avenue (north), and Broadview Road (west). Properties on Broadview Road were not included. This comprehensive development of about 310 single-family homes, arranged on a sloping site, included a curvilinear street plan, uniform setbacks, and green spaces.
Promote available financial incentives and technical assistance programs for historic structures.
There are a number of existing programs that are available from a variety of sources including the Federal, State and local government, and local nonprofit agencies.
Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives.
The Federal government offers two programs. A 20% tax credit is available for a building listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, or a building located in a registered historic district and certified by the National Park Service as contributing to the historic significance of that district. A registered historic district is a district listed in the National Register of Historic Places, although a local historic district may also qualify. Properties must be rehabilitated for income-producing purposes, including commercial, industrial, or rental residential use. The credit cannot be used to rehabilitate a residence that is occupied exclusively by its owner. The rehabilitation work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
A 10% rehabilitation tax credit program is applicable for non-historic buildings first placed in service before 1936 and rehabilitated for non-residential uses.
State Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
The State of Ohio offers a 25% tax credit for a building listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, a building located in a historic district that has been certified by the National Park Service as contributing to the historic significance of that district, or a building designated by a local government. Properties must be rehabilitated for income-producing purposes, including commercial, industrial, or rental residential use. The credit cannot be used to rehabilitate a residence that is occupied exclusively by its owner. The rehabilitation work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. A project can combine the 25% state credit with the federal 20% credit.
City of Cleveland Storefront Renovation Program.
The City’s Storefront Renovation Program (SRP) offers technical, design and financial assistance to commercial property owners whose retail (storefront) buildings are located in 27 City-approved “Target Areas.” The program offers a rebate after completion of construction. The rehabilitation work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
In 2008, the program operated in the following areas of Wards 15 and 16:
- Broadview Road: Pearl Road to Silverdale Avenue and Schaaf Road between Broadview Road and South Hills Drive.
- Denison Avenue: W. 73rd Street to I-71
- Pearl Road: I-71 to Fulton Road
- State Road: Pearl Rd. to Biddulph Avenue
Neighborhood Historic Preservation Program.
The Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) in partnership with the City of Cleveland, the council members of each ward in the City, and community development corporations created the Neighborhood Historic Preservation Program in 1992. The program provides incentives to rehabilitate older and historic properties located in nine qualifying wards in the City of Cleveland, including Ward 15.
This program is targeted to Cleveland wards where more than 20% of the properties are determined to be blighted. It offers a fixed-rate low-interest (1.6%) home equity loan through KeyBank, and historic preservation technical assistance and construction management by CRS staff. Loan amounts range from a little as $5,000 up to $250,000 and are available for a 12-year term.
Rehabilitation work must be consistent with the architectural character of the building. The program emphasizes exterior rehabilitation in order to make a visual impact in the neighborhood, yet code violation corrections and interior work are also eligible projects. The program can be used on one-, two-, and three-family homes that are renter- or owner-occupied. Properties must be at least 50 years of age to qualify for the program.
Heritage Home Program.
The Cleveland Restoration Society, Cuyahoga County Treasurer’s Office, and KeyBank offer low interest loans ranging from $3,000 to $75,000 for home rehabilitation that is consistent with the architectural character of the building. The program, begun in 2001, provides funding for a wide range of exterior and interior maintenance and rehabilitation projects including roof, porch, masonry, and window repair, garage repair and replacement, kitchen and bath remodels, wood floor refinishing, and HVAC electrical and plumbing upgrades, to name a few. Specific communities and wards in Cleveland that do not qualify for the Neighborhood Historic Preservation Program, including Ward 16, are eligible for this program. The program can be used on one-, two-, and three-family homes that are renter- or owner-occupied. Properties must have been constructed prior to 1950. Loan terms are from 7 to 10 years based on the amount of the loan.
The Cleveland Restoration Society offers free technical advice to homeowners throughout Cleveland through its Neighborhood Historic Preservation Program. Properties must be at least 50 years of age to qualify for the program, which focuses on ways to recognize and solve maintenance problems related to owning an historic building, such as deteriorating masonry, peeling paint, and wet basements; recommendations on historic paint color schemes; repair of historic building materials and appropriate replacement options; and instruction on preventive maintenance.
Establish an architectural salvage process for buildings to be demolished.
Over the past generation, as more homeowners have worked to bring back the architectural character of their old houses, architectural salvage has become an important method of locating old house parts. Several businesses in the Cleveland area stock a variety of salvage, including doors, windows, hardware, and interior architectural features such as mantels, colonnades, and woodwork.
The current demolition trends in the two neighborhoods suggest that an architectural salvage project should be organized as an occasional sale of items, rather than an ongoing business operation. For example, in two of the three most recent years, no structures were demolished in Ward 16, and only a small number of homes were demolished in Ward 15. Most of the demolitions listed have been conducted by the City of Cleveland.
There are various formats through which quality architectural elements can be saved and reused within the neighborhoods. The Lakewood Historical Society has almost 15 years of experience performing architectural salvage work on buildings and organizing sale events. Here are some considerations concerning a salvage project:
- Demolition contracts often give all salvage rights to the contractor, which would cancel the ability to conduct salvage.
- The presence of asbestos fibers in the plaster may limit salvage work.
- To be cost effective, the work must be done by volunteers.
- The items to be salvaged should focus on the architectural character of the property and not drift into the area of property deconstruction or recycling.
- To be cost effective, free storage must be available for the period between the salvage work and the sale date.
- Items should be priced at the wholesale level, which will make them affordable for homeowners and discourage resale to salvage dealers. Some purchases by salvage dealers should be expected.
- The sale venue needs to have adequate off-street parking for customers and loading facilities.
Architectural salvage can also be promoted in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The organization has established “Habitat ReStores”, which sell materials that are donated from building supply stores, contractors, demolition crews or individuals. Proceeds from ReStores help local chapters and affiliated organizations fund the construction of Habitat houses within that community. In addition to raising funds, ReStores help the environment by reusing goods and materials, and preserve architecturally significant features from buildings that are being demolished.
Goal 13: Promote place-making efforts that recognize each neighborhood’s distinctiveness.
Although major natural features and the built environment define the physical character of a place, the setting can be enhanced through the selection of well-designed accessories for the public right-of-way and other public open spaces. For example, compare the aesthetic and perception of a litter-strewn commercial area lacking trees and plantings, to an area that has inviting landscaping, thoughtfully located and designed street furniture, and colorful art.
Undertake improvements to the public right-of-way and use physical improvements to clearly identify neighborhoods.
Install signage at the gateways of each neighborhood.
Installation of gateway signs on major streets is a common method to recognize the entrance points to a neighborhood. Currently, Cleveland has a program for traditional-style signs mounted on posts that are placed at municipal boundaries. In Old Brooklyn and Brooklyn Centre, a number of neighborhood edges abut other communities, providing the opportunity for gateway signage to identify both Cleveland and the neighborhood. If sufficient tree lawn space exists for more than just a mounted sign, landscaping can also be added. Colorful, drought-tolerant perennials and shrubs are a good choice, although some maintenance such as mulching is needed.
Install street banners identifying specific neighborhoods along commercial corridors.
Banners can also be used to identify commercial corridors or areas of interest in a neighborhood. They should be colorful, with a bold graphic design and limited verbiage. Banners can display a seasonal theme, or publicize a specific event. The Cleveland City Planning Commission has banner guidelines that discuss points such as materials, colors, graphic content, sponsor information, and removal. A common method for erecting banners is to slide the top and bottom of the banner, which is constructed as a loop, around brackets attached to utility poles above the height of traffic. A budget is needed for design, fabrication, installation, replacements for damage, and removal. Sponsorships should also be sought.
Install streetscape improvements that compliment the surrounding built environment.
Street furniture and accessories can add to the distinctiveness of a location. Better results can be achieved by first creating a design vocabulary for the various items. Then, even if implementation occurs in stages, the individual pieces will create a unified design and image for the area. Examples of the streetscape items to consider include tree species and their planters, landscape beds and their plantings, benches, bicycle racks, trash receptacles, flags/banners, holiday decorations, streetlight poles and fixtures, and traffic signal mast arms.
Bridges are also prominent features of various parts of Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn. The portion of the structure above the street surface could also be aesthetically enhanced, benefiting the bridge users and persons who would view the bridge from below. For example, the Fleet Avenue Bridge over Interstate 77, as part of its rehabilitation, was enhanced with fencing, decorative light posts, and a variety of flags along each parapet wall.
Develop/finance/implement a plan to install underground utilities along Pearl Road.
Over several generations, numerous above ground utility lines and their poles, including electric, telephone, and cable television have been installed along the Pearl Road right-of-way. The problem is worsened by utilities failing to remove out-of-service lines and poles, and the presence of competing service providers, such as the two electric utility companies in Cleveland.
A solution to this issue is to bury the above ground utilities beneath the sidewalk. The option can be costly, due to the major excavation, sidewalk replacement, and new streetscape improvements that must be installed. In addition, new utility service connections must be installed to each building. Several current projects in Cleveland neighborhoods however, are implementing this strategy in specific areas of their commercial districts. In the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, utilities are being moved underground for several blocks on Detroit Avenue surrounding West 65th Street, which is the core of the neighborhood’s commercial area. In the Kamm’s Corners neighborhood, utilities are being buried along a lengthy section of the Lorain Road commercial district.
The relocation of utilities underground provides each building with a modern utility feed, greatly improves the aesthetics of the area, and creates more flexibility for the design and placement of streetscape improvements such as landscaping, streetlights, and public art.
Incorporate art into highly visible locations that links to the identity of the neighborhoods.
Part of the success of a piece of public art is its response to its setting, and there are a number of examples of this in Greater Cleveland. On Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, the figures and activities incorporated into the metalwork railings around street trees reflect the business at each location. A recent temporary installation on Mall B in downtown Cleveland, a very windy site, consisted of rows of oversized planters angled as if buffeted by north winds off Lake Erie.
In Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn, an animal theme could be used to strengthen the physical tie between the zoo and the neighborhoods, utilizing sculpture, murals, or banners. During 2006 and 2007, York, Pennsylvania sponsored successful artist-based parking meter painting contests.
Another possibility would be to identify significant persons or events associated with each neighborhood, organize the names by theme, and create displays in public locations. Considering the success of organizing sites that were part of the movie Christmas Story, a tour could be created of sites associated with actor Drew Carey, who is from the area and had a sitcom based in Cleveland.
Goal 14: Honor and respect the diverse cultural heritages of Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn residents.
Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn comprise tens of thousands of persons of varied backgrounds: different ethnic groups, different religious denominations, different races, persons new to the neighborhood, and families that have lived in the area for generations. Events and activities that enable residents to learn about each other, their beliefs, and their traditions, as well as discovering and sharing the stories of the evolution of the neighborhoods, creates a set of shared experiences that strengthen a sense of belonging.
Strengthen existing – and create new – community events that celebrate local heritage.
Encourage interdenominational events to promote cultural understanding and appreciation of religious architecture.
The neighborhoods have approximately 30 church congregations, representing more than one dozen denominations. The variety of existing religious structures would make it possible to organize events around ecclesiastic architecture and the traditions of various congregations. The Lakewood Historical Society has sponsored church tours, in which a number of congregations receive visitors during a specific set of hours on a Sunday afternoon. The Cleveland Restoration Society has also sponsored tours of architecturally significant churches.
Sponsor community events and cultural activities.
Events and activities spread throughout the year can foster continuing interaction between community residents and attract visitors from outside the neighborhood. The events can take many forms, such as being associated with church congregations, block clubs, or civic organizations. There are a variety of themes that can be the focus of events, such as the environment, local history and architecture, fitness, local businesses, or simply socializing.
Another possibility is to include an activity that involves ethnic groups. For example, the 2000 Census reported that the four largest ethnic groups in the Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods, as a percent of all persons reporting ancestry, were German (18%), Irish (14%), Polish (11%), and Italian (9%). The Latino population is the fastest growing group, and in 2007 was reported to be 14% of the population. There are also additional ethnic groups with a significant number of residents in the neighborhoods.
Record, preserve, and publish local history.
Continue the oral history project to interview community members and preserve neighborhood history.
A generation ago, two companion books on the history of Old Brooklyn were published: Old Brooklyn: A Historic Narrative and Projection for the 1980’s by Clyde Patterson and Kathryn Gasior Wilmer (1979) and Old Brooklyn New, Book II, Kathryn Gasior Wilmer (1980). Old Brooklyn also has entries in Wikipedia.org and the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History at www.ech.edu.
A history book has been published in the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood, Reflections from Brooklyn Centre: Presentations and Oral Histories from the Brooklyn Centre Historical Society (2004). A website has been created, the Brooklyn Centre Wiki, which contains an extensive amount of information on the history of the neighborhood, as well as a genealogy project on the Polish residents of the Barbarowa section of the neighborhood.
Local individuals and organizations should be encouraged to continue their research on local historic topics and the compilation of the material in written and electronic formats in order to strengthen the social fabric in the community and preserve local history.
There are various methods that could be employed. StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit organization, started a project called the National Day of Listening that has helped thousands of Americans record their stories. The organization offers a “Do-It-Yourself” guide for conducting oral history projects. The OBCDC could partner with James Rhodes High School to have students conduct an oral history project of their parents and neighbors using the guide.
Install historical markers where appropriate.
For many decades, the Ohio Historical Society has administered the Ohio Historical Markers program, which commemorates the important people, places and events that have contributed to the state's history. There are currently 1,265 markers statewide, including 38 in Cleveland, three in Parma, one in Brooklyn Heights, and none in Brooklyn. There are no markers located in the Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods. The marker in Brooklyn Heights, located at 826 East Schaaf Road, highlights the importance of the greenhouse industry in the area.
Individuals, public agencies, or private organizations can nominate historic properties, persons, and events of significance on a local, state, or national level for the program. Nominations should address at least one important aspect of Ohio's historical, natural, or physical development in one of the following areas: history, architecture, culture, archaeology, ethnic associations, natural history, or folklore.
If the nomination is accepted, Ohio Historical Society staff members assist the applicant to verify historical accuracy and edit the texts. The cost for fabricating and installing the large, cast aluminum markers, usually several thousand dollars, is the responsibility of the applicant.
The neighborhood historical organizations should consider whether any persons, events, or places in Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn meet the program criteria and submit an application to the Ohio Historical Society.