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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.”


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.


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.


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.


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

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July 16, 2012

Cleveland Free-Net

Twenty-six year ago today, Cleveland Free-Net was officially started. Originating at CWRU, Free-Net was the nation's first free, open-access community computer system. Designed by former faculty member Thomas Grundner, Free-Net grew out of the Department of Family Medicine’s St. Silicon’s Hospital and Information Dispensary which had emanated from the department’s computerized message network.

The system allowed anyone with a computer or terminal with a modem to call in and have access to a wide variety of electronic services and features. These services and features included: a post office where free electronic mail was available for anyone in northeast Ohio who registered in the system; a school system where Cleveland area schools could communicate via computer and where common databases could be accessed by teachers, parents, students, and administrators; a hospital, St. Silicon’s Hospital and Information Dispensary, where a wide variety of medical information and services were available including the opportunity to ask medically-related questions; a public square where people could make speeches from an electronic podium, be part of an online computer user group, join interest groups, and other services.

Originally Free-Net ran on an AT&T 3B2/400 computer with 4 megabytes of RAM and 72 MB of hard disk storage. The CPU was a WE 32100 chip with a 10 megahertz clock operating under AT&T’s Unix System V operating system. Software was written in “C.” AT&T donated $50,000 worth of computer equipment and software.

Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste and Cleveland Mayor George V. Voinovich gave the system its official start at the opening of a summer festival in downtown Cleveland.

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The advent of the World Wide Web and other technologies eventually rendered Free-Net obsolete. Chat and News services for community users ended 9/1/1999 and Cleveland Free-Net was discontinued 9/30/1999.

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July 05, 2012

Student Centers

In May 2012, CWRU celebrated the formal groundbreaking for the new Tinkham Veale University Center.

Any new building seems to prompt questions about previous buildings used for the same purpose. Here, then, is a brief sketch of the university’s previous student centers.

1897 Eldred Hall

Adelbert College’s first student center featured an assembly room, meeting rooms, and a reading room containing popular literature. Over time a snack bar was added and space was leased to a barber.

1914 Haydn Hall

Originally planned as a study and recreation facility for the College for Women’s commuter students, Haydn was pressed into service as a dormitory when it opened in 1902. Beginning in 1914, it served a dual purpose as a student union and residence.

1915 Case Club

A former church, the building was purchased in 1913 and served as Case School of Applied Science’s first student center. It included a gymnasium, pool, bowling alley, dining room, and offices.

1947 Tomlinson Hall

Dedicated in 1948, Tomlinson included a library, lounge, ballroom, faculty dining room, cafeteria, gameroom, and offices for student clubs and organizations, as well as the Case Alumni Association.

1956 Thwing Hall

In 1929 WRU purchased the building from the Excelsior Club, a private men’s club. Thwing Hall served as the university’s library until Freiberger Library was built in 1956. At that time the building was converted into a student union.

1980 Charles F. Thwing Student Center
In 1972 the student center was re-conceived as incorporating Thwing Hall and Hitchcock Hall. In 1979 the Atrium joining the two buildings was constructed and significant remodeling was completed. The new student center was re-dedicated in 1980.

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