Virgil Brown Interview, 16 April 2008

Virgil E. Brown Sr., resident of Cleveland Heights, moved to Cleveland in 1929 at age twelve. Brown relates his experiences growing up during the Depression, including local schools, baseball games and the availability of part time jobs. Schools and ball teams were racially and ethnically mixed, and he does not remember much racial tension at that time. Brown discusses the changes in shopping habits; the shift from local shops and downtown stores to malls and big box stores, and the loss of vibrant neighborhoods. Brown served on the Cleveland council in the late 1960's, headed the Board of Elections in 1972 and was the Director of the Ohio Lottery under George Voinovich. Brown recalls the frustration of the City Council dealing with riots in the 1960's and the atmosphere of the city at that time. Brown bought a home in Glenville in 1945 and describes the area as it changed from a mostly Jewish to a black neighborhood and the property decline as homeowners continued to move out over the years. He describes the devastation and abandonment of buildings due to the riots and the declining economy. Brown hopes the economy in Cleveland can turn around; good jobs are needed to replace factory jobs in the area for working class people. Brown briefly describes the entertainment district near 105th and Euclid which served as a second downtown, with its bright lights, big name entertainers, and theaters "all lit up," like New York and mentions museums at University Circle.

Participants: Brown, Virgil (interviewee) / Calder, James (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.…