Mansfield Reformatory

Mansfield Reformatory was built between 1886 and 1910, and remained in full operation until 1990. The original design was by Cleveland architect Levi Schofield, whose projects included the Soldier’s and Sailor’s monument on Public Square, and the office building that bears his name on the south west corner of Euclid Avenue at East 9th Street. Initially a facility for juvenile offenders, Mansfield Reformatory became home to some of the State’s most dangerous criminals. The six-tier East Cell Block remains the largest free-standing steel cell block in the world.

Mansfield Reformatory -  Mansfield, Ohio
Mansfield Reformatory – Mansfield, Ohio





The facility has been used for the filming of a number of movies, including Shawshank Redemption, Air Force One, Harry and Walter go to New York, and Tango and Cash.



Today, the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society is slowly renovating the prison. The Warden’s Quarters and the Guards’ Room have been restored, and a new roof has been installed. The Society hosts tours and haunted prison experiences.


Flame on Cleveland’s New Mall

Lit during the 2013 National Senior Games, the inaugural event showcasing Cleveland’s newly renovated Convention Center in July 2013, the flaming cauldron stands as a symbol of Cleveland’s industrial past and technological future. The Senior Games attracted more than 25,000 visitors to Cleveland. 10,888 of them participated in the largest Senior Games ever.

Flaming Cauldron - Steel and LED lights - July 30, 2013
Flaming Cauldron – Steel with LED lights – July 30, 2013
Lighting Scheme Continuously Changes through an Array of Color Combinations
The Lighting Scheme Continuously Changes through Pallet of Colorful Combinations
Cleveland's City Hall as Seen from the Northeast Corner of the Mall - Looking East on Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland’s City Hall as Seen from the Northeast Corner of the Mall – Looking East on Lakeside Avenue
The View of the South End of the Mall
The View of the South End of the Mall including Cleveland Public Library (left) and Old Federal Building (right)
Cleveland's Global Center for Health Innovation
Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation

Known as the Group Plan, Cleveland’s public malls and the surrounding buildings were designed by Chicago architects Daniel Burnham,  Arnold Brunner, and John Carrere in 1903. Buildings include the  Federal Building completed in 1910, followed by the Cuyahoga County Courthouse (1911), the Cleveland City Hall (1916), the Public Auditorium (1922), the main Public Library (1925), the Board of Education administration building (1930), and the Cuyahoga County Administration Bldg. (1957). At the south end, the War Memorial Fountain with a tall symbolic bronze statue by Marshall Fredericks (1964). In the early 1960s, the entire north mall was excavated to create a vast underground convention center connected to the Public Auditorium, and the Hanna fountains were installed on the surface, flanked with trees and plantings.

The latest addition is the Global Center for Health Innovation (2013), combined with a complete renovation of the city’s Convention Center. Demolition of the Cuyahoga County Administration Building will begin soon to make way for a major hotel.

All photographs Copyright (c) 2013, Lauren R. Pacini

Cleveland’s Sidaway Suspension Bridge

Sidaway Suspension Bridge
Sidaway Suspension Bridge

Cleveland’s only suspension bridge was built by the Van Sweringen brothers in 1931.  It is a 680 feet long pedestrian footbridge, spanning a ravine known as Kingsbury Run, and connecting two ends of Sidaway Avenue – one in the Polish-American neighborhood of Slavic Village, and the other in Garden Valley, an African-American neighborhood.

Sidaway Suspension Bridge Showing Missing Decking
Sidaway Suspension Bridge Showing Missing Decking

The bridge was vandalized in July 1966, during racial tensions between the two neighborhoods. The deck was set on fire, and the bridge has never been repaired.

About My New Profile Photo

_MG_0119_HDRBWSince changing my LinkedIn profile photo, several people have said, “That is an interesting photograph, but what is it?” The answer is that this is the stained glass dome 85 feet above the banking floor of the Cleveland Trust Rotunda.


A closer view reveals more of the incredible detail. . .


. . .  as does an even closer view! To take a trip under the dome, click here.

Just below the Tiffany-style dome of Cleveland’s historic Cleveland Trust Rotunda, between the graceful columns, is a series of beautiful murals painted by Francis Davis Millet, who died at age 65 in the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. To see the murals and for information on each of them, click here. Or, for photographs and details of the historic building, click here.

Cleveland Receives Kudos for Progress

Is the glass half full or half empty? Admittedly we have come a long way but still have a very long way to go. The city that was once the automobile capital of the nation, and was once home to one-half of the millionaires, is making a come-back. No longer the butt of night-time talk show monologues, Cleveland is reinventing itself in a very sustainable way.

Perhaps the most significant sign of revitalization is in Cleveland’s Midtown section, between Playhouse Square and Cleveland State University on its west, and the Cleveland Clinic and University Circle on its east. Formerly a vast waste-land, Midtown is making a come-back. Old factories and warehouses are being renovated and re-purposed, or demolished and the land redeveloped.

On the north side of Euclid Avenue, once Cleveland’s grand avenue, known as the most beautiful street in America, stands Dunham Tavern Museum. Built in 1824, and once a stage coach stop on the road from Buffalo to Detroit, Dunham Tavern Museum is the oldest building in Cleveland standing on its original site. Until a year ago the museum stood in the shadow of a seven-story industrial building.

Dunham Tavern Museum
Dunham Tavern Museum

The demolition of the building restored 2-1/2 acres of Dunham land to provide much needed green space in Midtown to serve local residents, employees of Midtown, and Dunham Tavern Museum members.

MidTown (2 of 2)

Directly across the street, the renovation of two buildings is nearing completion.

MidTown (3 of 3) MidTown (4 of 3)

Renovated 6555 Carnegie Avenue
Renovated 6555 Carnegie Avenue

MidTown (6 of 3) MidTown (7 of 3)

Renovated 7000 Euclid Avenue
Renovated 7000 Euclid Avenue

And a new building serves as the home to the University Hospital’s Cleveland Heart Lab, Cleveland Eye Bank, Jumpstart, a national business accelerator, and Chamberlain College of Nursing.

MidTown (9 of 3) MidTown (10 of 3)

New 6700 Euclid Avenue
New 6700 Euclid Avenue

Sometimes it is Better to be Lucky than Good

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. The day when everyone is Irish! We hear so much about the “luck of the Irish,” that I was inspired to a change of pace post.

Those who know me have heard me often say, “Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.” This is not to say that “Good” is not a necessary foundation, because it is. But as a photographer, simply being at the right place at the right time has yielded some of my best work.

Releasing the shutter at precisely the right moment, or achieving just the right angle is as often as not, a matter of luck, built on a foundation of “good.”

The author James Rufus Agee (1909 to 1955) said it far better than can I:

“Many people, even some good photographers, talk of the ‘luck’ of photography as if that were a disparagement. And it is true that luck is constantly at work. It is one of the cardinal creative forces in the universe, one which the photographer has unique equipment for collaborating with. And a photographer often shoots around a subject, especially one that is highly mobile and in continuous and swift development–which seems to me as much his natural business as it is for a poet who is really in the grip of his poem to alter and re alter words in his line. It is true that most artists, though they know their own talent and its gifts as luck, work as well as they can against luck, and that in most good works of art, as in little else in creation, luck is either locked out or locked in and semi-domesticated, or put to wholly constructive work; but it is peculiarly a part of the good photographer’s adventure to know where luck is most likely to lie in the stream, to hook it, and to bring it in without unfair play and without too much subduing it. Most good photographs, especially the quick and lyrical kind, are battles between the artist and luck.”

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all, and may the luck of the Irish be with you always.

New Gallery in Old Building

Inside the Transformer Station Gallery
Inside the Transformer Station Gallery


The latest gem in Cleveland’s crown of jewels is the Transformer Station Gallery, located at 1460 W 29th St, in historic Ohio City.  The 1920s facility once supplied power to the electric street cars that crossed the Cuyahoga River on the lower deck the Detroit-Superior Bridge, connecting east and west sides of Cleveland. Recently expanded and opened by Laura and Fred Bidwell as a gallery for their personal collection, the Transformer Station is a collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Building Cleveland, the exhibit in the original section of the building is remarkable black and white images based on photographs made by Vaughn Wascovich , using a hand-made pinhole camera. The images are the result of a collaboration with printmakers Michael Loderstedt and Christi Birchfield at Zygote Press.

The 15-ton Armington crane ties the original portion of the building with its industrial past. The Armington Steel Company was founded by George Armington in 1899, to manufacture cranes and hoists. His sons continued to build the company, and in 1953 it became the Euclid Division of General Motors. The benches throughout the gallery were the creation of Reclaimed Cleveland, made from flooring salvaged from Chrysler’s former Twinsburg Stamping Plant.

To see more images of the Transformer Station Gallery, please visit my Website at