Allen Ford Interview, 31 March 2008

Allen Ford, current resident of Judson Manor, relates his experiences growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, during the 1930's and 40's. Topics covered include the effects of World War II on daily life, the importance of the Rapid Transit system, and downtown shopping. Ford recalls the opening of the Colony Movie Theater at Shaker Square and describes its Art Deco interior. He describes the operations and function of Pickands Mather Company, and the decline of the steel industry in the United States due to foreign competition and labor costs. Ford relates some early history of Doan's Corners,Euclid Congregational Church and the evolution of University Circle. Ford speculates about the future of Cleveland and the value of proposed business ventures, such as the Medical Mart, for revitalizing the region.

Participants: Ford, Allen (interviewee) / Ferraton, Matthew (interviewer)
Collection: University Circle
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Matthew Ferraton [00:00:04] Today is March 31, 2008. My name is Matthew Ferraton and I am conducting an oral history interview for the UCI–CSU Oral History Project. And today I'm here with Allen Ford. Allen, when and where were you born?

Allen Ford [00:00:19] Well, I was born at University Hospitals, which is right across Euclid from here, in July of 1928.

Matthew Ferraton [00:00:31] And have you lived in this area all your life?

Allen Ford [00:00:34] No, I grew up actually in Shaker Heights when my late wife and I got married. We ultimately lived out in Moreland Hills for more than 40 years. And because of her health problems, we moved into the Judson Manor retirement community in 2004, and she died about a year after, a year and a half after that. So I've only actually lived here for three and a half years, and that's in the retirement community.

Matthew Ferraton [00:01:11] So you grew up—just to make sure that I have this correct—you grew up in Shaker Heights?

Allen Ford [00:01:14] Correct.

Matthew Ferraton [00:01:16] What was Shaker Heights like back in the, particularly like in the '30s and '40s?

Allen Ford [00:01:21] Well, it was a very nice growing community. I was old enough to know that the, the Depression of the '30s had stopped development and building. And in fact, just as the time of World War II getting started, '41 or so, it was very exciting because people started building houses again. And the, what's now the RTA extended the Rapid Transit out to Green Road from Warrensville Center, and that was right behind my house. And we kids used to play in the cut that the rapid is in. And so it was a fun place to be. I grew up across the street from University School. I didn't go there, but I loved to have the athletic fields to play on as a kid.

Matthew Ferraton [00:02:12] You'd mentioned the Great Depression, which was going on during the 1930s. As a kid, do you remember anything about the Great Depression or what it was like to live then? Were you affected in any way or your family?

Allen Ford [00:02:26] I would say we were probably a minority who weren't really badly affected by it at all. Although we were conscious of all of the unemployment problems, the great heavy industry of the city kind of slowed down to a crawl. The very basic stuff like steel. And we heard about it all the time. Of course, when Pearl Harbor happened, I was, what, nine years old, I guess. And, you no... 13 years old, excuse me. And so I became very conscious of the war. And in my growing up years, I suppose I have much more vivid memories of how the war, World War II, affected our daily life. I was too young to serve in the army, but I served in Korea after I graduated from college.

Matthew Ferraton [00:03:33] During World War II and having growing up during that period, in what, did it affect your family in any way? Or did some of your neighbors, did they have any experiences?

Allen Ford [00:03:44] Well, yes. My oldest brother had a very, very close friend who was a pilot, and he was shot down in Europe. They never recovered his body. So we were very much aware of the dangers and losses. And I had a couple of cousins who were in the military. Our next older brother who couldn't get into the military but he served in a volunteer ambulance driving corps attached to the British army. And he had a very intense experience in the war in Italy in particular. And my oldest brother was commissioned and actually served entirely in the States during the war. So the war was very much in everybody's mind. But we were we, we had blackouts. And, and my dad was on a draft board. And so, you know, there was a lot of interface like that. And I do remember hearing on the radio the Pearl Harbor announcement on December 7th, '41.

Matthew Ferraton [00:04:57] When you heard the Pearl Harbor announcement and also, you know, people that you may have known one in the community, how did you or your family react when you heard about that announcement?

Allen Ford [00:05:10] Well, nobody had predicted the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor. That I was, I knew. But the war in Europe by that time was more than two years old. It was headline news every day. As a kid, I had a little tiny radio next to my bed, and I used to listen to the news about the Battle of Britain and the invasion of Norway, all of that kind of thing. The Dunkirk evacuation for the British. I was interested in those things and I was very conscious and as everybody was. So there was no great surprise that the war began. The big shock was that the Japanese were able to do such terrible damage to the U.S. Navy, and the Navy unadvisedly had assembled all of its battleship fleet in Pearl Harbor. And they were sitting ducks.

Matthew Ferraton [00:06:12] You mentioned blackouts that you had experienced. Describe for me what would it be like on say a typical evening and they would have these blackouts. In detail, what was that like?

Allen Ford [00:06:24] Well, every block had a warden and you were supposed to be ready to turn out your lights. There was a, there was a very, very, very remote chance that German aviation might get as, penetrate as far as Cleveland. There was a lot of worry, though, about the fact that we had a lot of defense it was called defense factories in Cleveland because of our heavy manufacturing and so... But obviously, there was no honest, real threat. A couple of German submarines parked off of New York City, and I think they lob some shells into New Jersey or something. I kind of forgot. So we were aware of those kinds of things going on, but that was a long way from home. But the draft was very real. And as the war went along the common side of the military, all branches, of course, became every day.

Matthew Ferraton [00:07:26] You talk about, you mentioned briefly the Rapid Transit system and how as time went on, RTA also expanded. Growing up, did you ever use the Rapid Transit system?

Allen Ford [00:07:38] Oh, absolutely, yes. I rode it every day to Shaker Junior High, which was then in the Wood... only in the Woodbury building. And we went downtown with it. My dad, who's a lawyer, was a lawyer—his office was downtown—he commuted every day on it. And we, for our major shopping, we always went to downtown. There were no malls, nothing in the suburbs. Shaker Square was a shopping center of sorts, but nothing to compare with the modern mall kind of suburban mall stuff. So we came downtown to go to the Higbee, to the department stores, Higbee's, Halle's, May's, Taylor's, so on. So we, we lived on the rapid. We loved it.

Matthew Ferraton [00:08:32] Riding Rapid, for the listeners, describe what was it like on a typical day if you were going to ride downtown, what was it like to actually ride on this Rapid?

Allen Ford [00:08:42] Well, it was, I guess, from our stop, which was Belvoir or Warrensville Center, either one. It was probably 20-plus minutes, a pleasant ride down Shaker through Shaker Square, down into the cut. And then after you emerged from that cut at 93rd Street, you're in the midst of the then industrialized inner city. A lot of plants and factories. And you went through the old Nickel Plate railroad yards. So you were very conscious of rail travel in those days. And that was the way we traveled, of course, by train. Flying was a rare, expensive privilege in those days.

Matthew Ferraton [00:09:35] You mentioned you'd pass through Shaker Square. Just briefly, what was Shaker Square like at this time?

Allen Ford [00:09:42] Well, it's... It looked exactly as it does today. The configuration is the, the buildings are the same. The apartments just before you reach Shaker Square were built in the '20s and early '30s. And so the physical appearance was identical. It was a big event, though, when the Colony Movie Theater was opened. That was a big thing. And I suppose I was in junior high at that time. I've kind of forgotten, but it was really something big to be able to jump on the Rapid and for 15 cents ride down and see a movie. Can't remember what we paid, but not... No $5.

Matthew Ferraton [00:10:26] Have you ever been to the Colony Movie Theater yourself?

Allen Ford [00:10:29] Oh, yes, yes. I was there right after it opened and we used to go there regularly and I still go occasionally.

Matthew Ferraton [00:10:37] What was it like at that time when it, when it first opened?

Allen Ford [00:10:39] Well, it was splendiferous because it was one big theater with a balcony. And, and it was built for movies unlike some of the theaters downtown, which started life as vaudeville theaters or, you know, legitimate plays and stuff like that. And then they adapt. They all adapted to the movies as the movies grew in the '30s, '40s.

Matthew Ferraton [00:11:08] If you could just, just briefly describe the inside of this theater as you remember it during this time.

Allen Ford [00:11:15] Well, the decoration is essentially what it is. It's Art Deco, I think, is the right term and a lot of use of metals for railings and curved materials. And it was a very, very nice theater. It was, it was very well built as the movie houses were in those days.

Matthew Ferraton [00:11:43] You talked about... You mentioned briefly as you were riding on the Rapid on the way to downtown, you had talked about how the city, you were very aware that it was very industrialized at the time. There was... [cross talk]

Allen Ford [00:11:54] Absolutely.

Matthew Ferraton [00:11:56] What did it look like going through this area?

Allen Ford [00:11:58] Well, the first thing you notice was you could smell it because I wound up in the iron ore business, which is part of steel. And the first thing that hits you is the smell of the coke ovens, which put off a very distinct odor. And even today, occasionally, you can get a whiff of that and it reminds me of riding the Rapid, because when you got to a certain point, you could smell it. Really. And these were the steel mills, which at that time there were probably at least four different companies along the Cuyahoga River. And this was very much of a major steel center in those days.

Matthew Ferraton [00:12:40] Those companies, just briefly, what were a couple of those companies, the steel mills that were operating at the time?

Allen Ford [00:12:45] Well, American Steel and Wire was probably the biggest and it was part of U.S. Steel. Jones and Laughlin was then an independent company which got acquired during the Great Consolidation. Republic Steel was headquartered here, put together in the '30s as a merger of several steel companies. And then there were the related things like specialty finishing mills, which took the ingots or the strip and made them into automobile parts and then the military stuff during the war, that kind of thing. But you knew you were in a factory area, industrial area, no question about it. You couldn't avoid it.

Matthew Ferraton [00:13:39] You talked about when you would ride the Rapid downtown. You had mentioned that you would often go down there to do your shopping...

Allen Ford [00:13:47] Right.

Matthew Ferraton [00:13:48] Describe some of these, the department stores you mentioned, such as like Higbee's or May's. What were those places like at this time?

Allen Ford [00:13:55] Well, I guess there aren't too many department store models that the current generation sees. They were complete merchandizers in the sense that everything from furniture to jewelry is, obviously clothing, were in those stores on different floors. Even toys, which of course at Christmas was the great thing to do when we were little kids and they'd set up a Santa Claus and the rest. But departments meant it covered all of the consumer variety of needs. Clothing particularly, of course, featured, but kitchen appliances and all of that kind of thing had and big furniture had separate departments and floors. Hence the name department.

Matthew Ferraton [00:14:52] Were the, were these department stores were they multi-leveled?

Allen Ford [00:14:55] Oh, yes, yeah. Yeah. Well, the Higbee building still is there intact, and there must be seven or eight distinct floors, plus a basement. Usually, the basements were the bargain basements, and they had less expensive discounted clothing, mostly in the basements. But along Euclid Avenue you had a giant Woolworth's five-and-dime store and things like that, some specialty store.

Matthew Ferraton [00:15:24] Just briefly, during this time going downtown. What did the area where these department stores, you know, outside... What did it look like? What, what did you typically see on a, on a typical day if you were to go down there shopping?

Allen Ford [00:15:36] Well, they were the streets were relatively clean, I would say. Euclid itself, as most of the main street, still had streetcars running up and down right in the middle of the street with automobile traffic, and always the sidewalks terribly busy during the beginning and the end of the work day with commuters. Great many people commuted by streetcar and by bus. Of course, automobile ownership wasn't nearly as widespread at that time as it is now. And then at the holiday times, of course, during Christmas, they had big displays of Christmas scenes in the windows and people went down just to see those and look at the toys.

Matthew Ferraton [00:16:27] Just very briefly for the listeners, what would one of these Christmas displays look like?

Allen Ford [00:16:32] Well, they could be anything mechanized figures, Santa Claus with his elves, that kind of thing. Or railroad trains. Model trains. Model railroading was a big deal in those days. And, we were all rail fixated.

Matthew Ferraton [00:16:52] Moving for a little bit. Did you attend Case Western Reserve University?

Allen Ford [00:16:56] Yes. I went there as a graduate student after college and after I'd started to work. And at that time, there were two independent entities, Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology. And I signed up at the Case Institute of Technology to get in three years at night, the equivalent, a modern equivalent of an MBA. Because in my work, I began to realize there was a lot I needed to learn and about business, and I was glad I did it.

Matthew Ferraton [00:17:34] Where did you go to college as an undergraduate?

Allen Ford [00:17:37] I went to Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

Matthew Ferraton [00:17:42] After you finished at Yale, what made you decide to come to the Case Institute of Technology?

Allen Ford [00:17:49] Well, I graduated in June of 1950, and the Korean War started that month, and I started law school at the University of Michigan. And I was not terribly happy with continuing in school. So I withdrew and volunteered for the draft and went over to Korea in the 25th Infantry Division. Came out of the war because of being in Korea, we only had to serve 21 months. And, came back and took another start at law school and decided once and for all I wanted to go into business. And so that's when I looked for a job in the iron ore mining business and wound up at a company called Pickands Mather, which is now part of Cleveland Cliffs. But there were four iron ore companies in Cleveland at that time. The other two were Oglebay Norton, and M.A. Hanna, and this was the center of domestic Great Lakes iron ore mining here and lake shipping. And so I started to work at Pickands Mather.

Matthew Ferraton [00:19:04] What year did you start at, at Case Institute of Technology?

Allen Ford [00:19:11] I think it was '62. I think I graduated in '65.

Matthew Ferraton [00:19:18] When you started there in '62, your, your first-year at Case Institute of Technology, what was it like there at the time?

Allen Ford [00:19:25] Well, I went to the night program and Case at that time offered certain degrees at night. Interesting enough, when the year we graduated, the then President Keith Glennan decided that Case was at a level in higher education that it wasn't appropriate to offer courses at night. And so the night program was discontinued right after that, right after we graduated. I don't think it was a reflection on the quality of our class, but it was interesting. And at that time, Fenn College, which is now part of CSU, was in business and I actually took a couple of courses in metallurgy at Fenn, in the old tower there, just as background for the iron ore business, the steel, and iron ore. And, but there weren't a lot of evening courses. Of course, the community college movement hadn't even started at that time, and Cleveland State had not been put together at that time. So you didn't have much in the way of alternatives then.

Matthew Ferraton [00:20:47] You talked about you got into the iron ore business. At the time, what made you decide to get into that business?

Allen Ford [00:20:56] Well, when I was in school, I had, had to do a project and I selected Mark Hannah, who was a very famous Clevelander, the man who founded Hanna, M.A. Hanna Company, and ultimately became a senator and a very very powerful one. And he invented the modern campaigning the way it was practiced for a long long time, until fairly recently, allegedly as smoke-filled rooms kind of politics. And he was responsible largely for the election of William McKinley. And anyway, during the war it was very clear that the steel business had really been one of the key factors in the U.S.'s great success entering the war and as a manufacturer of everything under the sun made out of steel. And that was true again in the Korean War. And I thought, well, here's a vital industry and it's local. And it's very interesting to me. The major, other major Cleveland characters came out of the industry. Samuel Mather, for instance, who was a great philanthropist, and I'd heard about all of them all my life. So I gave it a fling and I really liked it.

Matthew Ferraton [00:22:26] You worked at the steel, the steel company you worked for, if I'm correct was Pickands Mather? Is that correct?

Allen Ford [00:22:33] Pickands. P-I-C-K-A-N-D-S. Mather. M-A-T-H-E-R. And if you are at CSU, the handsome private home was his home. It's part of the administration now on Euclid Avenue. It goes from Euclid back to Chester. Brick house, which they used for... Oh, I don't know, special gatherings and things like that. Probably have some administrative offices.

Matthew Ferraton [00:23:04] What exactly... Working for that company, what exactly was your position there?

Allen Ford [00:23:09] Well, the companies did several things. They operated a fleet of iron ore vessels on the Great Lakes. They operated and sold coal, sold coal, mostly metallurgical, meaning for the steel business. But the backbone of the company was managing iron ore mines, mostly up on the Mesabi Range and the over in northern Michigan and up in Minnesota. That's what got the company started. And in those days, the steel companies, with a few exceptions, didn't operate their own mines. They liked to set up partnerships with other steel companies so that the very capital-intensive nature of the mining business wasn't a complete burden to each one of the individual steel companies. They could partner and spread the burden, spread the risk, and the partners of Pickands Mather developed that style of management. So we operated iron ore mines that were owned in part by, Jones and Laughlin, Youngstown Sheet and Tube, Bethlehem Steel, Steel Company of Canada. And in my 15 years there, we, the company went through a great period, a period of great growth, and expanded to operating mines in Tasmania, which is part of Australia, eastern Canada, particularly the Labrador Quebec area, and in Ontario. And as the steel industry grew as it did very rapidly in the post-World War Two era in this country, and it was a good time to be with a good company that was fortunately at the edge of good sound business growth.

Matthew Ferraton [00:25:12] Were you ever in one of these steel mills that the company was running? Did you ever actually go see it?

Allen Ford [00:25:17] We didn't run steel mills. We, we ran iron ore mines. And yes, but we were also, and in fact, I went on a kind of a learning tour for almost a year and spent six months at a blast furnace plant over in Toledo that was affiliated with Pickands Mather to learn the smelting and metallurgical side of the business. And but also I worked in an iron ore mine in Quebec. Right not too long after I joined the company and got a lot out of that experience. But then I was, I wound up mostly in financial responsibilities ultimately.

Matthew Ferraton [00:26:08] During the time that you worked there, you describe that, that this was a really booming industry, especially for Cleveland at this time. We know now that in many ways that that is no longer the case. At any time through your career. Did you notice any kind of changes taking place or did you were able to tell that there was any indications that there was going to be a decline of that, a decline was taking place?

Allen Ford [00:26:35] Well, the steel industry, like many, kind of got spoiled during World War II because we were the industrial backbone and bastion of the Allies during the war. The war pretty well wiped out the steel industry of the mainland Europe. In terms of the Germans, and the French, and the Belgians, the British, we ruled the roost and frankly, we got lazy. The Europe with the Marshall Plan began to recover. And every country in the world that could even dream about it wanted to start a steel industry because at that point, steel was so vital to the growth of any national economy, and they all wanted to start their own steel industry. And iron ore is reasonably plentiful throughout the world, and frankly, foreign competition caught up with the U.S. steel industry, which had sadly priced itself uncompetitively. And had been very honestly too lenient with labor, which began to run. It's a very labor-intensive business, too, and high labor costs began to make U.S. industry non-competitive. And the result is what you see today. The only survivors here in Cleveland, for instance, are a business that's been put together by a very aggressive Indian manufacturer of steel based in London. And he's done a good job, but he's picked up companies that have gone through bankruptcy, which means that they wind up, as he buys them, debt free and he can renegotiate the labor contracts from scratch, which is why so many of the fundamental businesses in the United States have gone through this cycle of great growth and prosperity, overgrowth, not continuing to be worldwide competitive. Automobiles are a great example, and many of them wind up going through bankruptcy and rewriting their whole labor structure. You didn't ask all that.

Matthew Ferraton [00:29:15] That's okay.

Allen Ford [00:29:15] But it's part of our problem as a city here.

Matthew Ferraton [00:29:19] Switching topics a little bit, you brought in a couple of photographs here. You talked about the... If I'm pronouncing that correctly, the Cozad Grist Mill.

Allen Ford [00:29:30] Yes.

Matthew Ferraton [00:29:31] Tell me in detail each of these photographs. What is in these photographs?

Allen Ford [00:29:36] Cozad, it's pronounced. C-O-Z-A-D, Cozad, which is a corruption of a French name, Cassat or Cassart, which goes back to the days in France when the French king was persecuting the Protestants. They were called Huguenots, and they fled to Holland, much the way the Pilgrims from England fled to Holland to get away from the King. And they came migrated to America in the 1600s. And anyway, he came from a family that got established in New Jersey. Ultimately, when the Western Reserve was opened up after the 1796 founding by Moses Cleaveland and the Connecticut Land Company. He was one of the early settlers to come out here and he bought land. And it, he actually bought a piece of 100 acres, which was the size of the parcels they sold then. Nathaniel Doan around the 105th, 107th Street had a 100-acre parcel and Cozad bought the next one east. And it encompasses most, most of the heart of what you think of as University Circle today, north and south of Euclid, from 107th out almost to the railroad to the 125th Street or 118th Street, rather, and running north. All of the art museum, all of what's now a Wade Park Oval. All of that property was, was originally in his trust, in his land. He, as far as we know, he brought along the grist mill, that picture of which you're looking at. The grist millstone weighs about 1500 pounds. It's about four feet in diameter and about two feet thick. Two and a half...

Matthew Ferraton [00:31:42] It's the stone that's in this photograph?

Allen Ford [00:31:43] This is the stone that's in the photograph you're looking at and there's a bronze plaque in front of it that says this stone was used during the early 19th century for grinding grain in a mill operated near this spot by Samuel Cozad. And the spot was along Doan Brook, which he used for power. And one of the things, since I've been moved into the Circle I've done as a hobby, is to try to find out exactly where the mill was. And by inference, from maps drawn usually much after the fact, it's pretty clear that the mill site was at what's now the northwest corner of the lagoon in front of the art museum. The stone is sitting partway up the hill in the northeast corner of the, above the northeast corner of the pond, and just below East Boulevard and the Kelvin Smith Library. It was quite a feat to bring it out here. We know it was undoubtedly brought here because it's granite of a kind that doesn't occur in this part of the country. And the mineralogist at the Natural History Museum is trying by thin section analysis to characterize the stone to the point where it's possible he could identify the source of it, probably from France. Because, believe it or not, even before the French Revolution, before our American Revolution, the colonies imported grinding stones from France and a little bit from Germany and where they were quarried. So we're guessing at the provenance, as they call it, but it makes sense. And he probably carted it over the almost nonexistent roads all the way from New Jersey. The Connecticut land company at that time, we do know, offered what they called a bounty. If a settler would come out here and set up a gristmill or a lumber mill, which would, of course, encourage settlement, because the first thing they did was to plant grains, to make flour, to survive the winters, and, of course, cutting lumber for housing and everything else. And I'm guessing that he probably got one of those bounties, but we don't know that it was $100 or a loan of $500 payable over five years. If you would set up one of these out here, and it's much the way incentives are used all the time to get people to locate places. So he, he landed out here in 1806. And the only kind of dispassionate third-party proof of this existence is a book that is about the University Circle area, a reminiscence written by a man named Post, Charles Post. And he says that very regrettably, as a boy, he knew the stories that campers got into the mill and then burned it down and Cozad never rebuilt it. So that's about the only. But there are many witnesses to the fact that there, yes, there was a mill here long before the Shakers built the Shaker Lakes and the mills up the hill. But there were also documented two other mills downstream, one probably at Superior and thereabouts or and one maybe at St. Clair where they cross MLK. So there were two other mills downstream. Water power was the power source for industry in those days.

Matthew Ferraton [00:35:58] Switching topics, your family has lived in this area for, for several generations. Is that correct?

Allen Ford [00:36:06] Yeah. And the reason I'm interested in Cozad is that he had a granddaughter who married my great great grandfather, who was in the earlier the first Fords to emigrate from western Massachusetts. And they got married in 1848. And one of the stops on the family tour that I describe to you is a spring which is just north of the botanical garden and the family tradition. No proof was that as youngsters that he, my great-great grandfather, and she, the granddaughter of Samuel Cozad, met at the spring, because that was a source of, a public source of drinking water in those days. And that's just north of the Botanical Garden building and met there. They got married 1848 and they built a house, moved into a house at the corner, southeast corner of Adelbert and Euclid, where the family lived for several generations. Where my dad grew up. It's now the, the site of the Allen Memorial Medical Library.

Matthew Ferraton [00:37:26] You brought with you a map of the fourth family reunion for University Circle, and there's several points of interest on here. If you could, describe a couple of these, these sites in detail on this map.

Allen Ford [00:37:41] Well, I've talked about the probable location of the gristmill, which we think is right here. If you look carefully, it's hard to see it on the map, but you can see the outlines of the pond. And this is the art museum up here. The spring I was referring to is at the north end of the property that the Botanical Garden has now. The Ford family farmhouse was located here at the southeast corner of Adelbert and Euclid. And Cozad, who was the earliest ancestor, had his house right across the street on the property that is now the Severance Hall where the orchestra is. There is another Cozad branch of the family that built a house which is still standing on Mayfield here, just east of where Mayfield comes off of Euclid. And that was owned for many, many years by University Hospitals. They gave it to University Circle Inc. and UCI is trying to decide what to do with it. There have been ideas such as a site to commemorate the Underground Railroad. Cleveland played a big role in the Underground Railroad and our ancestors, and this is documented by third parties, harbored runaway slaves in the early 1850s when they came across the Ohio River, largely from Kentucky. And. Many of them passed through the town of Oberlin because that was a center of abolitionist movement and. They would spend a couple of days and nights here, and then they'd be taken down to the waterfront, which is down near the mouth of the Cuyahoga, and put on boats to go to Canada to obtain their freedom. The other sites on this map are what's now called the East Cleveland Township Cemetery, which is on 118th Street triangular property. Our earliest ancestors Fords are buried there, including one early one who was a Revolutionary War veteran who came out here with his children. And the other is the great big Lakeview Cemetery, which is where the family is, has a plot, and a mausoleum. And then the only other thing is, I guess well, this is interesting. We, we did highlight Fairmont School, which was an elementary school on 107th Street about where the Martin Luther King Library Branch is. And my father went there as a boy. We found out after we got married that my wife's grandmother taught kindergarten there. And it was also famous as the school that Bob Hope went to when he lived in Cleveland. He lived in this 105th Street area.

Matthew Ferraton [00:40:56] And what was the name of that school?

Allen Ford [00:40:58] Fairmont School. It was part of the public school system. And then the Fords had a lot of, many years connection with the Euclid Avenue Congregational Church, which is located further west on Euclid, surrounded now pretty much by the Cleveland Clinic. So those were the highlights of the family tour.

Matthew Ferraton [00:41:22] The Euclid Avenue Congregational Church. Did you ever attend that church?

Allen Ford [00:41:26] Oh, yes as a boy. Yeah. Yeah.

Matthew Ferraton [00:41:28] What was that church like? What...?

Allen Ford [00:41:30] Well, it's still standing and it's still functioning. It's struggling. Frankly, membership is pretty thin. It was a congregation that actually began life as Presbyterians when the Cozads and the Fords and others came out here. And they broke away from the Presbyterian Church because the Presbyterian Church during the Civil War did not take a stand against slavery because they had so many churches in the South and they were kind of torn as a denomination about their feelings on slavery. And so the congregation broke away and affiliated with the Congregational Church and... That building was built. Oh, boy, I've kind of forgotten probably in the 1890s and still very much extant as a building. And a smaller and smaller congregation, though.

Matthew Ferraton [00:42:36] The building itself, the Euclid Avenue [Congregational] Church, has the inside changed at all over the years, or is it?

Allen Ford [00:42:43] Not, not essentially. It's been renovated several times, but the... If you go in there today, it looks the way it did when it was built.

Matthew Ferraton [00:42:52] Just very briefly, what does it look like inside there?

Allen Ford [00:42:55] Well, it's obviously the whole interior is wood. It's, it's stone as a construction. And it's built-in a kind of a half moon shape with the focal point on where the there's, there's no strict [alter] the way there is and the Catholic and Episcopal churches and others. But the ministers all stand at [a pulpit] that is right in the middle of the half circle and the seats are in semicircle facing there. It's a very nice venue. It's often used for concerts.

Matthew Ferraton [00:43:44] University Circle the area in general, you have a lot of experience and you've seen this area for a long time. In what ways has this, this area changed over the years during your time?

Allen Ford [00:44:00] Well, that's a mouthful. I have forgotten the exact year. Mrs. Mather, who was related through marriage to the Samuel Mather we talked about earlier, was the spearhead behind the notion that in the area here the institutions were starting to grow, they all needed land and they wound up competing against each other. So she and some civic leaders got together and said, you know, why don't we start a nonprofit? Became a 501c3 organization, to land bank in the area, so that the major institutions of the area, as they grew, would have a way to get land without getting into warfare with each other and have cooperative planning for the physical future of these many institutions. And the two key founders were then the merged Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, and then the other major institutions Art Museum, Orchestra, The Natural History Museum, Historical Society, Institute of Music, Institute of Art all of those joined up. And you have to get from the UCI the numbers, but I think there are more than 50 organizations, maybe even more, that belong to the Circle and actually many things which aren't, strictly speaking in University Circle now belong here. The Circle was named because the streetcars running out Euclid Avenue had a turn around in the form of a circle, literally. So they turned around at about the modern junction of Stearns or MLK and went back downtown. And that's where the notion of University Circle naming came. I had nothing to do with it personally until at an early time, early stage I became involved volunteering at Case Western Reserve and many of the other institutions still do. But when I became chairman of the Board of Case Western Reserve in the late '70s, its relationship with UCI was very, very important. UCI ran the police force augmenting the Cleveland police. It ran the parking and it did the land banking and I knew very little about its inside working. But as chairman of the board at Case, I was, began to get involved, made myself known to Joe Pigott, who was the executive director, and Dick Tullis, who was the industrialist who was chairman of the board, and became active in the Circle that way and have stayed more or less active ever since. The only real job I have today is I'm a member of the Investment Committee of the Endowment for the Circle, but I'm a great believer in it. I think it's [evolved] over the years playing very important roles, not so much as a land banking institution anymore, but as a community-wide planning and development instrument, particularly under the current management playing a key role in the rebuild of Euclid Avenue and all of the attendant things there and. Major role in helping to develop more living quarters, market-rate apartment rentals, and some condominium developments. There's more and more demand for people to live in a Circle as the jobs grow. And the Circle area has evolved into the second largest employment area in the city of Cleveland, so it's very, very important to the future. And you mentioned the possible connection of, to for 90 interstate which should be a part of the future because there ought to be direct access into the Circle on freeways, from freeways.

Matthew Ferraton [00:48:42] You mentioned that.

Allen Ford [00:48:43] Long answer.

Matthew Ferraton [00:48:45] That's okay, it was, it was a very broad question.

Allen Ford [00:48:47] Yes, it was.

Matthew Ferraton [00:48:50] Sorry about that. That happened sometimes. As a, as a board member, you had started being a board member in the 1970s. Is that correct? If I thought that correctly.

Allen Ford [00:49:02] Yeah.

Matthew Ferraton [00:49:04] During that time period and over the, over the years has there been any major projects that you're aware of or maybe you were part of that were either successfully completed or maybe that, that stick out in your mind that weren't completed? That, maybe one or two that really stick out in your mind?

Allen Ford [00:49:21] Well, I think that by and large, as I indicated a couple of minutes ago, I think the growth of and evolution of the institution has been very good. It's been, yes, somewhat spotty. One of the questionable developments, of course, is whether the Cleveland Clinic should be part of the Circle. They are not now, but there is increasing cooperation. And in fact, in the '80s, there was another nonprofit started which included the clinic called Doan Center, and I was a trustee of that. And they assisted the Clinic in doing in driving some development, which is in the, the Church Square development now between Euclid and Chester, which has been very successful, retail shopping and residences. As I said, there is increasing cooperation between the Clinic, which is, of course, a tremendously important factor in employment and health care and the development of this and of Euclid Avenue. And that's one big issue. About 15 years ago, I was also the chairman of the Edison Biotechnology Center, and we did try to develop an area south of Chester and MLK and Fairhill into an area that was more or less contiguous with the Circle and was a Clinic for the development of a biotech industry. That hasn't really gotten legs, unfortunately, but it's been very useful to try to envision what kind of commercialization space we do need, and we do need it badly to take the outstanding research of these UH, the Clinic, the medical school into commercialization. And I think you'll see I'm still optimistic that in this general area there will evolve that kind of cooperative commercial development. When they started to talk seriously about a Medical Mart downtown there was some feeling that the Mart ought to be out here near the big medical research institutions, but it looks as if the final plan probably will be to have it downtown, which is the desire of the county, who's the major backer of the, of the project. But, yeah, some things haven't worked, but by and large, it's been an extremely successful institution to have. I think it's been studied around the country. Certainly, as I said earlier, it's in a new phase today in general, real estate development in cooperation with the university in part but with other institutions in the Circle, as well.

Matthew Ferraton [00:52:51] That's about all I have before we conclude this interview today. Is there anything in particular that you would like to say?

Allen Ford [00:53:02] Well, I. I think my remarks may have made it clear I'm a believer in the institution of the, of UCI. I think its leadership has to continue to show. What should we say? Evolution in a direction that supports the primary missions and initiatives of, of the community. The economic base of Greater Cleveland has changed profoundly in my lifetime, in my working lifetime, particularly. And we've lost a huge amount of economic base here. And I've been trying as a volunteer for many years to encourage whatever we can do to provide the basis for the next evolution of the economy of Greater Cleveland. And I think we're really starting to gather steam on that. And as I've said, the biggest opportunity, biggest single one is in the biomedical biotechnology area. But the future of fuel cells, nanotechnology, that it's coming out of Case Western Reserve to limit the degree out of the Cleveland Clinic are, are going to be important to the future of Cleveland. And I'm very pleased to see that beginning to evolve. A lot of work to do, and it's not easy, but I'm optimistic about it.

Matthew Ferraton [00:54:44] Just real quick before we end, you had been talking about, you know, the evolution of how, how some of these [inaudible] projects that you want to change how things are done. Over the years, given that there's been an evolution taking place when you first start getting involve, in what ways has, has the vision changed for University Circle?

Allen Ford [00:55:10] Well, I would say the biggest single change, I guess I think I've covered in my comments is evolving from a land banking institution to serving the major nonprofits and great institutions we have here museums, and education, and the hospital. Evolving from a service unit to land bank for those people to becoming an initiator of the evolution, particularly as we try to get. Businesses and living here established at a degree they don't exist at this time. There is a great demand for housing here. We need more technical training. John Hay of High School of the Cleveland Municipal Schools has been completely renovated with an express purpose in part of having the high school students trained to hold technology jobs that will be emerging from these new industries in Cleveland. The health care. In fact, there's a shortage of technicians today, so that's a healthy sign. It's a little frustrating when there's so much talk about losing our industrial base, but if we don't do something about it, it's going to overwhelm us.

Matthew Ferraton [00:56:39] Anything else before we conclude? Okay, that concludes our interview for today.

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.…