Donna Lee Pratt Interview, 23 April 2008

Donna Pratt, raised in Shaker Heights, and property manager on Hessler Rd. since 1964, relates the importance of the cultural institutions in University Circle to the students in the Shaker Heights schools in the 1950's, in particular the Music School Settlement. Pratt describes how the creation of University Circle has improved the area, and allowed for cooperation between the institutions, although there has been some tension between them at times. Pratt views periods of tension as constructive. She notes how early attempts by UCI to buy up too much land for development, left a dearth of residential areas until a study by architectural students at Case Western Reserve University promoted the idea of preserving and maintaining living space in historical areas. Pratt also worked with city planning in the early 1970's to create educational programs for youth to learn about neighborhoods as they worked in areas such as community clean up and playground work, providing opportunities for interaction between inner city and suburban youth. Pratt describes the protest movement of the early 1970's, including the Weather Underground, and the effects of the Hough and Glenville riots in the University Circle. She reiterates importance of architecture in creating community, including front porches, small yards, and community gardens, and the struggle to hold on to gardens as UCI has developed land.

Participants: Pratt, Donna Lee (interviewee) / Ferraton, Matthew (interviewer)
Collection: University Circle
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

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University Circle

University Circle is home to many of the city’s oldest and most respected institutions: Severance Hall, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Case Western Reserve University to name just a few. Since 1970, University Circle Inc. (UCI) has coordinated development in the area. These interviews with UCI staff, community activists, and local residents and workers in the University Circle area, conducted by students as part of a CSU Provost-funded Undergraduate Summer Research Award project led by Drs.…