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July 27, 2012

Transformation of the Bellflower Road-East Boulevard Corner

Construction of the Tinkham Veale University Center represents yet another transformation of the University’s use of the Bellflower-East southeast corner. All the images below are oriented with East Boulevard to the left and Bellflower Road at the top.

In 1927 Western Reserve University created the first athletic field for the College for Women (later Flora Stone Mather College) on the Bellflower-East southeast corner. Over the next twenty years, the athletic field contained a running track, tennis courts, and a hockey field. In her 1928/29 annual report, Eva May, Director of Physical Education, wrote in restrained tones that, “We used our new athletic field this year and are very grateful for the running track, and also for the small house in which to store our field equipment.”

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In 1948, asphalt replaced grass. The need for additional parking displaced the athletic field across Bellflower to the northeast corner, currently the Cleveland Institute of Art. The image below shows Severance Hall with the growing parking lot.

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The southeast corner remained a parking lot until the construction of Freiberger Library in 1956. Constructed at a cost of $1.6M, Freiberger’s four floors of 80,000 square feet accommodated over 500,000 volumes and seating for 600. Designed as “areas not rooms,” Freiberger was an open stack library with browsable collections on all floors and study areas in and around shelving. Freiberger is the building in the upper left corner. Parking still occupied a considerable part of the area for forty more years.

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In 1996 Freiberger was replaced by Kelvin Smith Library. When it opened, the 150,000 square foot building included fourteen miles of compact shelving that could house over 1.2M volumes and provide seating for approximately 900. The land around the library, the Campus Greens, was described as “5 acres of greenery replacing 7 acres of asphalt.” One section of the area was renamed Freiberger Field and was intended for intramurals and informal outdoor activities.

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In 70 years the corner of Bellflower Road and East Boulevard came full circle - from athletic field to athletic field.

Posted by jmt3 at July 27, 2012 03:50 PM

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