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.
Cleveland is definitely experiencing a come-back. The most recent, and perhaps the most significant step in this come back is the renovation of the former AmeriTrust property on the east side of East 9th Street between Euclid Avenue and Huron Road.
Founded in 1894, by 1905 the Cleveland Trust Co. had outgrown its series of rented offices, and embarked on the construction of a new headquarters building at Euclid Avenue and East 9th Street (above), which opened in 1908. By 1924 Cleveland Trust became the 6th largest bank in the country, reaching $1 billion in assets by 1945.
In order to establish affiliates throughout the state, the bank formed CleveTrust as a holding company in the early 1970s. CleveTrust then changed its name to the AmeriTrust Corp. in 1979 to reflect these new horizons, and exchanged its state charter for a national one in 1983, permitting AmeriTrust to expand outside the state of Ohio.
The collapse of the real estate market in the late 1980s substantially weakened AmeriTrust, which was burdened by too many high-risk real estate loans. On September 13, 1991, AmeriTrust was merged into Society National Bank (now Key Corp), consolidating two of the major banking establishments in the area.
Join me over the coming months as I photograph the renovation of the Rotunda, the former Swetland Building (just east of the Rotunda on Euclid Avenue), and the 28-story tower (just south of the Rotunda on East 9th Street), and the demolition of two other office buildings to make way for the new Cuyahoga County Administration Building.