Ted Sande, former Exectutive Director of Western Reserve Historical Society (1981-1993) and Board Member at University Circle Incorporated, discusses his experiences with Cleveland's east side cultural district. Sande describes his work at the Western Reserve Historical Society, including institutional history, various projects and artifacts, details on strategic and financial planning initiatives, and infrastructure improvement. He describes changes in grant distribution and fund raising in the 1980s, when money was being redirected to medical institutions and larger cultural institutions. Sande's work with University Circle Incorporated (UCI) is discussed within the broader context of Cleveland's post-WWII decline in population and wealth. As a community development organization, UCI reacted with land banking and other programs designed to restore the neighborhood population and stimulate the area's economy. Sande also discusses Cleveland's architectural characteristics and community, as well as changes in the crime rate over time in the University Circle area.


Media is loading


Sande, Ted (interviewee)


Calder, James (interviewer)


University Circle



Document Type

Oral History


52 minutes


James Calder [00:00:00] So I'm gonna start, start recording, and I'll just ask you to introduce yourself to the mic.

Ted Sande [00:00:08] My name is Ted Sande and I served as executive director of the Western Reserve Historical Society from 1981 until 1993. And during that time, I was also affiliated with Case Western Reserve University in an adjunct teaching capacity and served as a member of the University Circle Inc. board.

James Calder [00:00:42] Okay. Well, that's a lot of involvement with University Circle. Let's start with Western Reserve. Do you want to explain how, how you got started with them, I guess first?

Ted Sande [00:00:59] In 1980, the society was looking for a new executive director. The prior director had served for, I believe, 25 years. A man named Meredith Colket, a distinguished genealogist who had also come from Washington. I was in Washington, D.C., at that time, and I believe he was with the National Archives. I was with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and I was actually seeking a position at that time. And I was contacted by someone in Cleveland who knew that I was looking for a new position. And the upshot of that was that I was interviewed in the fall and early winter of 1980, and began work on January 1st, 1981.

James Calder [00:01:52] Okay. What were some of the I guess we can start even chronologically, what were some of your first major projects at Western Reserve?

Ted Sande [00:02:02] The, the most pressing projects involved [the] need to restructure somewhat because there were some financial issues at the time. The society had gone through a rather rough patch in the late '70s of adverse publicity, and I was hired to restore the faith in the institution and the integrity of the institution. And that took most of my time along with others in the organization who we all worked together to rebuild it. And I would say that took maybe three and a half to four years. The most obvious manifestation of that was the library on Magnolia Drive that connects to the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum, which was done in 1983, '84. And then following that, there were accreditations by the American Association of Museums of the. Crawford Auto Aviation Museum, Shandy Hall, and the Hale Farm and Village as it was styled at that time. And re-accreditation of the history museum. And then continuing toward the end of the 1980s, we were able to bring together enough funds in order to do an expansion to the lower level of the Crawford Museum in which we're...

James Calder [00:04:03] Right here.

Ted Sande [00:04:04] Sitting and talking right now, and a connecting link known as the Reinberger connecting link. Now, this addition is known as the Lester Wing, or it was because the major contributor was a man named Thomas Lester, who was an avid car enthusiast and had been a member of a board of overseeing for the Crawford Museum.

James Calder [00:04:29] Okay. With all of, with all those projects, I mean, that seems very ambitious. Do you... Can you describe sort of what went into those what were some of your difficulties in getting it finished? And also, it seems, I shouldn't ask two-part questions but well... That... You know, talking about the historical society having some difficult times through the '70s, it seems like a lot of places in Cleveland were having difficult times during the 1970s. Do you see this as being, you know, Western Reserve's growth as being part of the general growth in other institutions throughout the city or even specifically University Circle, or was it more just sort of on its own?

Ted Sande [00:05:15] I think that the particular issues that it faced were very much society issues and were not part of any general trend. But it is true that in the museum field and in the cultural nonprofit sector, as we look back, problems that began to surface in the '70s related to funding mission and a lot of discussion of that occurred within the American Association of Museums, and I'm sure in other cultural organizations or type organizations such as that. I think that the... Perhaps what became more and more evident, although it was offset somewhat by the flourishing economy of the mid to latter part of the 1990s, was the recognition that there were a lot of institutions competing for limited resources. So, I did an article that was published in the Plain Dealer on this topic in I believe it was 1990 or 1991, in which I asked the question, how much can this region underwrite of cultural activity? And things began to change actually adversely in the early part of the 19th and the mid part of the 1980s. When I came to Cleveland, there was a regular fund each year administered by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners that was known as a cultural fund. And that provided some material support to a great many large and small institutions in this area. I think about 250,000 of what was totally a $500,000 amount annually if my recollection serves me correctly, was allocated to smaller institutions. And those grants I sat on the panel for that, and it was chaired by a man named Ben Shouse who is deceased now, but he was very active. He actually grew out of the labor movement and was a labor organizer. But he had a deep interest in cultural activity. And he was very prominent in this area in the I'd say, '60s through the 1980s. And he chaired this smaller institution's allocation panel on which I had the pleasure of serving for several years that brought money to some of the smaller ethnic groups that were staging an annual dance, let's say, and needed $4,000. I mean, this was very small grants that I think we're doing a lot of good. The larger ones were allocated to the larger institutions in larger sums. So the Cleveland Orchestra received a, a stipend, which was pretty generous, as well as the Cleveland Museum of Art. This institution, I think the Natural History Museum. I don't recall. It may have been two or three others. So that money, as things began to tighten in the late '80s, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners at that time felt that the money could better be redirected to Health and Human Services. And the, the entire amount was wiped out despite passionate pleas, including, I think, the most eloquent talk I ever heard Ben Shouse give before the Cuyahoga County Commissioners in support of cultural financing, or at least providing some encouragement to cultural institutions across the, across the city and within Cuyahoga County. And I would add that I think that this county, and particularly the city of Cleveland, it struck me when I came here in 1981, was unique in the number of cultural institutions that it had spawned over the years, from very large to small, from theater, dance, to art museums. And the historical society is the oldest continuous cultural institution that was founded depending upon when you want to date it, but I think generally the 1860s. Some would date it to an earlier iteration of the institution. And I think that that is something that the city can still take considerable pride in. But it's facing the financial challenge even more so today than it did when I was here. But that was clearly a large part of my time, devoted to trying to encourage sources to support the institution, raised money for this cause or that cause, such as the bricks and mortar, the, the library. Some fundraising had been done prior to my arrival and the, the completion of the addition to the Crawford and the connecting link. That money was raised entirely while I was here. But it was, it was not easy. And it was due to the generosity of several supporters of the institution.

James Calder [00:11:00] So is that... What pretty much happened after the county funding was no longer available?

Ted Sande [00:11:07] Well, it happened in the. They were sort of parallel. I don't think that they that one certainly one wasn't the cause of the other. That is, we were raising money even with the county support, because in that case, the county support was relatively modest. I think we received two grants, one directly, I believe, from the county and I think one from the state of $25,000 each. Now, that doesn't sound like much now, because the dollar has changed a lot in the interval. And it wasn't a great deal then, but it was enough to help us maintain things such as an active school program for several of those years that brought schoolchildren here. And it was, you know, when you're in the fundraising side of the cultural institutions any support you have is potentially leverage for other new money because you can go to a source and say, well, look, I've got X, Y, and Z who are providing funding. And we did a fair amount of that leveraging and encouraging and drawing in others. So it... That, that challenge was there in the '80s. It was perhaps less so at least some people thought it was less so in the '90s when particularly the stock market was booming. And now we're back to actually a situation that is considerably more dire than when I wrote my article in the Plain Dealer Forum section in 1991.

James Calder [00:12:50] Do, do you have... Did you ever have a feel of what happened to like the smaller cultural institutions that you talked about after some of that money was no longer available?

Ted Sande [00:13:00] I can't say that I do. I didn't follow them that closely. I'm sure that some of them found money from other sources when you're talking relatively modest amounts of $1,000, $2,000, $3,000. They may have been able within the ethnic community to find that funding if that was an ethnic cause, or it may have been that they simply discontinued doing that sort of thing.

James Calder [00:13:30] How long, especially in, I guess, University Circle, which is such a center of cultural institutions in Cleveland. How long... Through these different periods, how have things changed, I guess? Has, has... I guess what I'm asking is, you know, when money was harder to get, did you see a real decline in cultural institutions like around this area? Or I guess did they find ways to, to succeed with or without it?

Ted Sande [00:13:56] Well, I think that we have seen some institutions that were not able to cope with the changing financial climate. The Health Education Museum is one clear example where they had to cease operations, as I understand it, and I don't know whether they have any whether they folded into something else or whether they've just totally ended. But there have been several institutions like that. The ballet, yeah. They immediately come to mind and I'm sure there are others. But the remarkable thing is how many of them have survived and still keep going. And I don't know where they're getting the money, but it's a testimony... It's a testament to their support, to the, the people who are devoted to that particular cause. The difficulty is how many different causes can any one individual in the, in the community underwrite or help to support, particularly now when we no longer have a TRW here or BP America and its predecessor Sohio. We have a diminished population. I don't know what the population of Cleveland was when I came here in 1981, but I would guess it was somewhere over 600,000. And today I'm not sure what the figure is, but I believe it's in the lower 400,000 range.

James Calder [00:15:29] [Inaudible]

Ted Sande [00:15:31] Yeah, well, it's, it's well under its peak of 1951 when it was, I believe, 990,000. So we were a city of a million. We have an infrastructure for a city of a million, which we cannot maintain because, we don't have, or properly maintain, because we don't have enough financial support through the diminished population, and the loss of certain major corporate givers that were here and were very instrumental in the assuring that certain at least annual operations would continue.

James Calder [00:16:10] Looking at that sort of idea of changing population. How... I guess how has it affected I mean, being in a place where you're serving the city of Cleveland and the people around that. How does it effect it when people keep leaving or I know a lot of people just leave to the suburbs. I guess, how does that effect it too with people staying close? Do people still stay kind of involved or still tend to stay involved or, you know, once they move out farther they sort of...

Ted Sande [00:16:41] I don't know whether anyone's done a measurement of that or measuring which facet of it. For example, there are a number of churches in the inner city. They once supported neighborhood populations. You could walk to your church, or your synagogue, or whatever it was. When the move to the suburbs became dominant after the Second World War, partly with the highway system and the increasing use of automobiles, the decline of public transportation. Some of the inner city religious institutions did seem to keep the, the population that had out-migrated. They would come back for Sunday at least, or Saturday, whichever. But I think over time that must have diminished. Just an assumption. But I'm sure there are others. Are you speaking with John Grabowski at all? Is he on your list?

James Calder [00:17:55] He is actually.

Ted Sande [00:17:55] Okay. Well, John is really the person to answer that kind of question because he is really a student of Cleveland's population and ethnicity. And among other things, he knows probably more than any other person I know here in Cleveland about the city, and its evolution, and its strengths, and its weaknesses. So I think he's in a better position to answer that than I, but it's my perception that we, that when we the city loses people to the suburbs, they will inevitably affiliate with something closer rather than endure long commutes back and forth. But they're also just by definition, they're shopping at different stores. That has an impact. You know, when an industry closes, it isn't just those jobs that go away. There are a lot of support jobs because these people who were working in the factories, many of them have to relocate and not all of them can relocate in Cuyahoga County. They're going to be going elsewhere in the country. And when they do, that means the grocery stores will diminish, the service industry will decline, just because they don't have the patrons any longer. So [it's a] really challenging situation to find oneself in when you're living in a community that is losing jobs and losing the support activities. And all of a sudden you wake up one day and you find that there just isn't that store that you had gone to for so long simply because they no longer have the, the patronage to maintain a viable business. I don't think any of this is forever, though. I think that there, we... Cleveland will survive. I mean, it's, it's suffering. It may continue to suffer for a few more years, maybe even longer than that. And we Americans don't like that. Well, nobody likes it, whether they're Americans or anybody else in European countries. But the Europeans and those in other parts of the world who have endured hardships, such as the really the destruction of their cities during wartime, have rebuilt and, and come back and been prosperous. But sometimes it takes a generation, two generations, maybe longer. The worst case I can think of is the Venetian cities, the cities of the Venetian empire. When Venice went down, cities like Verona, Vicenza, and so forth also suffered. And they suffered for maybe 300 years or more. Now, they didn't disappear. People lived in those cities and they live there today. And they've become more, I think, healthy in the post-World War II period than they were before, at least not back to the glories of the Venetian empire, but they are viable cities. So, I think that we have to find what our, what our source is going to be that will allow us to rebuild. There are still an awful lot of things going for this city. We tend to lament and get depressed about it because we read so much bad news and the paper tends to focus on the bad news rather than the good news. But there are a lot of qualities in this city and in this region.

James Calder [00:21:58] I think, I think this is a good place to transition to some of the work with UCI because you see it has been, I think, successful in making at least University Circle a viable place to live within the city of Cleveland or a place to live, or to work, or to have a business, or an institution. Could you maybe talk about why UCI has had some success? If you think it's success too. You know better than I. And, you know, especially compared to some other areas in Cleveland that really haven't done well and have continued to really decline since maybe the '60s or '70s.

Ted Sande [00:22:42] Yeah. Well, UCI is a unique neighborhood for any city. I don't know of any other comparable cluster of cultural institutions outside of Washington, D.C., than we have here. And that just could be my limited knowledge of some other cities. But I'm not aware of Chicago or San Francisco or any number of other cities that have such a cluster of cultural and medical institutions and so on. I think in some ways that's both a plus and a minus. The plus is that you do have this gathering of rich cultural institutions, namely enrichment in terms of the diversity and their, their offerings. In many other cities where these institutions are located tends to be closer to the central business district, tends to be in the downtown area. Lincoln Center in New York, for example, would be an example, but and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they're all Central Park area. The University Circle Inc. was really formed initially, I think, because of concerns about environment landscaping along the Martin Luther King or through Rockefeller Park, that is, assuring they didn't do Rockefeller Park, that was well before UCI, but they didn't want to lose the strength of that landscape spine. They also saw some of the threats that were coming with the decline of the city in the post-World War II, well, particularly since the mid-1960s in this area, the proximity of Hough, Glenville, and so forth, and some of the things that have happened in those communities that seemed to suggest that University Circle was vulnerable as well. And I think that certainly one of the major thrusts was land banking. That is, if something became available and it seemed strategic to have that, not necessarily with a purpose in mind, but land bank until there was a suitable opportunity for it to be developed. I think that was a very wise decision on the part of the formers of University Circle Inc. The, the... In the 28 years I've been in Cleveland, I've generally seen nothing but growth. In University Circle, most of it institutional growth, very little of it residential. Now, Chris Ronayne is trying hard to bring the residential in, and I wouldn't say that there was no residential proximate to University Circle. That is, you had several grand hotels and you had the Wade Park Manor either residential hotels or apartments there that fit an urban lifestyle. You had the Fenwick, the Commodore, the Park Lane Villa, which has just been restored, and the Sovereign Hotel, which is now it's right adjacent to the Veterans Administration and, and expanding. So there were at least some apartment, large apartment buildings, and hotels in this area that dated from the early '20s on. And there were a number of apartment buildings along Ansel Road, East Boulevard. You find them throughout, you know, not too large a radius of University Circle, and they tended to attract young professionals, young married couples back at that time. Probably when they had children, they, they then moved to larger apartments, if not well after the Second World War, certainly out to the suburbs. And that begins to draw them away from it. But we have to keep in mind, one of the most dramatic changes to University Circle occurred just outside the Circle on the West Side, and that was when the entertainment and theater district, the restaurants, and so forth that were there left. When they... When I came here, there were still a few, there was a, there were one or two of the old theaters still standing, but not used as theaters. And the great restaurants had gone. It was a shopping district as well. So that intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street was really a very vibrant area. And as you continued north on 105th Street, there were lots of places where people were living. It was and there were also streetcars. So you had good public transportation both into the downtown area and out and north and south as well.

James Calder [00:28:33] Can you describe for me... We've had a lot of people talk about that East 105th area.

Ted Sande [00:28:39] Yeah.

James Calder [00:28:40] Can you offer any descriptions of that area besides what you've already given?

Ted Sande [00:28:45] If I offered anything, it would really be secondhand because I wasn't here during its heyday. I've talked with a number of people who grew up in Cleveland who knew about it. [cross talk] Well, there I believe there was a ballroom for one. And oh, the great orchestra leaders had their bands here. Bob Hope performed there. The great entertainers of the era came to Cleveland. It was popular and very active in the post-World War I period and during the kind of middle Depression years in the 1930s, still, you know, very, very active. You also had a roller skating rink there. Some people probably have mentioned that. And the historical society was located down there until it moved up to this location on East Boulevard. I think... Well, my memories getting weak now, but I think that was in the '30s.

James Calder [00:29:50] Do you actually have... Actually, switching gears a little bit. Do you, do you have any history of that, you know, of the Western Reserve Historical Society that we could talk about, even kind of predating you, but just what do you know about it?

Ted Sande [00:30:06] Well, I think all of that is in writing.

James Calder [00:30:08] That sounds about right.

Ted Sande [00:30:08] And yeah, there isn't anything I could add to it.

James Calder [00:30:12] Okay.

Ted Sande [00:30:12] Because I didn't come to Cleveland until 1981 and my experience dates from 1981 to 1993. So I think on any of that earlier history, you have the Cleveland Press, the late lamented Cleveland Press.

James Calder [00:30:30] We have their special collection.

Ted Sande [00:30:30] And yes, you do. And Bill Barrow down there, he's the person who can guide you on access to that material. The Cleveland Plain Dealer files, the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History has a pretty good summary of the history of the historical society, and there are, I think, several pamphlets that have been published over the years. So, I would refer you to those sources.

James Calder [00:30:53] Okay, I guess. I wanted to ask you about, I guess, returning to some of the projects we talked about and some we even talked about on the phone, like the mural upstairs.

Ted Sande [00:31:06] Yep.

James Calder [00:31:06] Do you want to talk about some of the things that, some of the major projects you did when you were here or the things you acquired?

Ted Sande [00:31:14] Well. I don't recall exactly this date. All of the details of the mural that's up there. Except that not long after I came to Cleveland, I saw it in the Terminal Tower down on the [concourse]. At that time, the, that area, that part of Terminal Tower complex was, was seedy, kind of threatening to be in. But I was always struck by that. And somehow I had the good fortune to be in touch with the head of the Ferro Corp. and it belonged to the Ferro Corp. as I remember it. They had, together with several other not-so-large porcelain enamel murals, exhibited them at the World's Fair in 1939. And I think. They have all been in one building, but I seem to think that they were in maybe two buildings and this was a unique example of porcelain enamel technique. It also to me, that is this one that we're talking about that's in the, in the Reinberger entrance way. That it was a very good example of Art Deco work, the Art Deco style. So it seemed to me part of Cleveland's heritage we'd like to have. Well, the Ferro Corp. gave it to the historical society, and I went out on a limb and said we were going to be able to display it at some point. And it was tied into this fundraising for the expansion of the Crawford Museum and the Reinberger link eventually. They were very impatient with me for several years and didn't think they were ever going to see it come back to life again, but it did. And we at least I'm very pleased when I come into the building to see it there. I think it's a great asset.

James Calder [00:33:25] Yeah, it's a beautiful mural. You, just off the top of your head, do you have any descriptions of it you can offer? Even just maybe your first impression, like a descriptive first impression of it.

Ted Sande [00:33:36] Well, I think it's dynamic. I, if there was a single word to use, I would use the word dynamic. And it because you're talking about power and, and so forth, it's exhibited there, the horses and, and so on. And that would be my summary of it. And colorful. Dynamic and colorful though.

James Calder [00:33:55] Did you know, and... Any, any other sort of architect. We can actually talk about architecture? If you'd like?

Ted Sande [00:34:04] Yeah. Sure.

James Calder [00:34:05] If that... Art Deco was big in Cleveland for a while. There was a... I keep thinking of some interviews we've done this with Melvin Rose at Rose Iron Works. Do you know them?

Ted Sande [00:34:18] I know of Rose Iron Works and they did some really splendid Art Deco pieces in the '20s and '30s, yes. Art Deco, though, is the style that the name comes from an exhibit of decorative arts in Paris in I think 1925. And Art Deco then was kind of the abbreviated title given to it from the name of the exhibition. And you're right that Cleveland did seem to respond to it in a way, but as I have said publicly on a number of occasions, we're a very conservative town architecturally and we're not a town that's taking that has taken risks in the past. If you look at the architecture of Cleveland, some of it's extremely high quality, but it isn't cutting edge and wasn't cutting edge at the time that it was done. We like to wait and see what other people do and then if it looks good, we'll do it. But we'll do it well. Generally speaking, we'll do it well. A good example would be the Peter B. Lewis building at Case Western Reserve University. Frank Gehry was not unknown at the time he was asked to do that. In fact, he was really brought into it by his one of his principal supporters, Peter Lewis. But he had done the great building at Bilbao by then. In fact, you know, I don't know how many people know in, in Cleveland that he did another building in Ohio for a museum in 1990, '91. And that was an addition to the an education wing to the Toledo Art Museum. And I'm taking I'm teaching a senior scholars course at CWRU this semester and our last session is going to be to go up to Toledo to see mainly the new glass pavilion that's been done there in a park just across Monroe from the entrance to the Toledo Museum. And on the south of the building is this sort of turned metal conglomeration that he did then, which is the education wing. So it isn't nearly as dynamic. He was in an evolving phase at that time. So moving toward these highly complex shapes that he used at Bilbao and has used so many times now in other locations. I think there are many good things about that building, although people are quick to point out any technical flaw that it has. But I've talked with one or two people who have been in the building for a couple of years working, and they seem to like it. So I, I think that it's probably a good building, but not a cutting edge building. I like what Rafael Vinoly is doing for the art museum, which I think is a, a sensitive interpretation, particularly of the Breuer wing, which was the most important additions made to the original building, Hubbell and Benes in, what, 1916, building. Cesar Pelli is a somewhat, in many ways, I'd say a conservative architect. And I think the building he did back in the '90s, late '80s, early '90s, the children's wing, that freestanding sort of pyramidal building, that kind of, well, it doesn't define the eastern end of the campus, but it's close to the eastern end. I think that brought some real architectural excellence and order to that part of the Euclid-Carnegie corridor. And I think it's one of the best things he's done in town. I like it much better than I do the Key Tower. That's also from his firm, which to me is a much more traditional building, skyscraper building. It's a similar vocabulary in some ways to the more Art Deco Empire State Building. Not as wild as the Chrysler Building, of course, but it's more like the Empire State. [It's] very carefully tailored and it steps up and it follows pretty much that formula. So I think that when we've got wonderful buildings, bank buildings in town and so forth, but this isn't Chicago where you have people who have taken lots of risks and come up with some really brilliant things more than they have bombs. I mean, they've come up with really good buildings, or a place like Charleston, South Carolina, which in the 18th century was doing the, 18th and early 19th century, was doing fabulous architecture. There was something... I think there are some cities where it's just in the air and this isn't one of them.

James Calder [00:40:00] Well, that's what you said about architecture, as my understanding that's true about the Terminal Tower as well that was not cutting edge for its time architecturally.

Ted Sande [00:40:08] It was at the tail end of its time. And the interesting thing about Rockefeller Tower is that the program... Oh, not Rockefeller Tower. The Terminal Tower complex is that the Terminal Tower complex by incorporating a transportation hotel, a department store office building, all of it brought together in one. It seems that that had an influence upon the Rockefellers, and they then do it in the true, you know, the advanced mode of the day, the Art Deco and do Rockefeller Center. Wonderful, splendid place, in my judgment. I think Rockefeller Center just you, just your heart leaps when you walk down Fifth Avenue and you go into that area with the, with the skating rink and so forth. But mainly those buildings that sheer verticality, the linearity, the parallelism and so forth of it, it's really exciting. That same opportunity existed here, but we didn't have the patronage that would support it. And it was well, mainly it was an entrepreneurial venture on the part of the Van Sweringens in order to link Cleveland with the emerging Shaker Heights suburb. It has many virtues to it. It's got some beautiful murals in the main concourse that, well, I shouldn't say concourse, the main entrance. When you come in off Public Square, if you look up, there are some wonderful murals up there painted by Jules Guérin, who was a great illustrator of the day. So you're, but you're absolutely right. [laughs] That's... It was really the, the end of the Beaux-Arts era. And when you look at it, you can't help but think of the university complex in Moscow, for example, which also is one of these piles of stuff going

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.