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Intriguing Attractions Often Overlooked in “The Land”

By Dave Zuchowski photos by Bill Rockwell
    Those familiar with Cleveland are probably aware of the city’s major attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its excellent cultural gems such as the Cleveland Symphony.

On a recent visit, I purposely ferreted out some of its more obscure, even quirky, sites which considerably perked up my visit to “The Land,” a popular nickname that recently took root among its residents. Next time you find yourself in Cleveland, you might want to pop into some of the following attractions.

The Opulent Lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank

If you’re at all interested in money, check out the Money Museum in the lobby of the fortress/palace of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 1455 E 6th St., Downtown. Once inside be amazed by the opulence of the 1923 building with its pink marble and crystal chandeliers, then check out the 23-foot-tll money tree on display in the lobby. Who says money doesn’t grow on trees?

Looking Down on the Money Tree from the Mezzanine

Move on to the poster listing slang words for money (cabbage, two bits, dough, buck, two bits, sawbuck and more), then learn about the history of money and how to tell the real thing from counterfeit bills. Exchange coconuts on Barter Island, have your photo taken looking through a hole in an oversized bill, play some interactive games, then make your own money using paper and crayon rubbings.

There’s more to see on the mezzanine including the bullet proof glass with slots that give guards a chance to fire on any would be robbers. On the way out pick up a bag of shredded dollar bills as a keepsake. Free admission.

A Display in the Buckland Museum

For something way out of the ordinary, the Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, may be small, but it’s potent. Located at 2155 Broadview Road, the museum houses a collection of just under 5,000 objects related to witchcraft, magic and occultism and includes artifacts from  leaders of the occult community like Aleister Crowley, Sybil Leek and Ray Buckland.

The tours begin with a ten-minute orientation on Ray Buckland and the museum’s history, usually led by museum director Steven Intermill. Thought of as the man who brought witchcraft to the US in the 1960s, Buckland is the author of The Compleat Book of Witchcraft, and you’ll find his ceremonial robe on display along with the original manuscript for his book.

Beware the Sign in the Gift Shop

If you dare, step inside the magic circle on the floor painted by Jesse Bransford, wander into the annex devoted to the art of tasseomancy or tea leaf reading, gaze into Sybil Leek’s crystal ball, shudder at the sight of the 200-year-old mandrake root craved to resemble a woman carrying children, considered a fertility totem, and gaze at Oberon Zell’s Raven Heart ceremonial staff.

If you’d like to take a look into the future, try staring into one of the museum’s black mirrors, then peruse the gift shop filled with artifacts related to occultism like crystals, books, Tarot cards, teas blended by the Lake Witch and glow in the dark tee shirts.

Admission is $8 and reservations are required by phoning 718-709-6643 or Buckland museum.org.

The Custom-Built Red Ryder BB Gun in the Museum

For an entirely different vibe, pop into the Christmas Story House, 3159 W. 11th St., now restored to its original cinema splendor. Pick up an admission ticket at the museum across the street and view the props (Randy’s snowsuit, Higbee’s window toys, chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom), and other memorabilia from the popular 1983 Christmas-themed film including a custom-built Red Ryder BB gun.

The Infamous Leg Lamp

In the house parlor be sure to take a selfie standing next to the infamous leg lamp, hide under the kitchen sink like Ralphie’s kid brother, Randy, and gawk at the pink bunny suit on display. For those wanting even more of an immersive experience, reserve an overnight stay at the house by making an advance reservation. Phone 216-298-4919.

While cemeteries are not often high on the list of places to visit (Pere Lachaise in Paris and Arlington in DC may be exceptions), you might want to consider Lake View Cemetery. How many places of eternal repose do you know that hold a Presidential memorial?

The James Garfield Memorial in Lakeview Cemetery

Encompassing some 285 acres and certified as a Level II Arboretum, Lakeview is the home of the 180-foot-tall James A. Garfield Memorial tower, the Wade Memorial Chapel with its four-ton bronze entry doors and interior entirely designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the John D. Rockefeller Obelisk and the Eliot Ness Memorial.

Wade Memorial Chapel

The cemetery is also known for its Japanese Maple Collection, its Moses Cleveland trees, said to have been standing when Moses Cleveland founded the city in 1796, Daffodil Hill and one of the largest known weeping Canadian Hemlocks.

 

Want to see the home of Cleveland baseball? Head over to the Baseball Heritage Museum, located at League Park, 6601 Lexington Avenue, where Cleveland baseball got its start. The field, the former home of the Cleveland Indians, is on the original footprint of the park, and home plate marks the spot from which Babe Ruth smacked his 500th home run.

Outside the Baseball Heritage Museum

The museum is located in the park’s original ticket house where exhibits run the gamut from photos, uniforms, programs and treasured baseball artifacts.

“Our mission is to explore the cultural heritage of the game including that of the Women, Jewish, Youth, Latin and Caribbean, Negro, Sandlot, and Industrial leagues,” said Ricardo A. Rodriguez, museum director.

Museum Director Ricardo A. Ridriguez Explaining an Artifact

Greats such as Bob Feller and Cy Young played at the park, and the Indians won the World Series here in 1920. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wed.-Sun. Admission is $10. www.BaseballHeritageMuseum.org. Phone 216-789-1083.

A Whirly Girls Display Case

Housed in roughly two-thirds of the massive Burke Lakefront Airport, the International Women’s Air & Space Museum got its start in 1976 in a former home of one of the Wright Brothers’ uncles in Centerville, Ohio, That’s when a group of women pilots organized a committee to collect historical artifacts and memorabilia relating to women pilots.

After outgrowing its original site, the museum moved to its Cleveland location in 1998 where its collection has grown to some 20,000 items.

Among the artifacts on display is a replica the dress Katherine Wright wore when she and her brothers, Wilbur and Orville, met with President Taft at the White House. Katherine was an early airplane passenger who kept a journal that chronicled her brothers’ achievements.

Showcasing Amelia Earhart

Understandably, a display case is devoted to Amelia Earhart, one of the most famous of early woman pilots. But an adjacent display touts the achievements of Bessie Coleman, the African American woman who inspired her and who earned her pilot’s license a year earlier than Earhart. Be sure to check out the photo of Coleman and Mae Jensen, the first African American woman in space, posing together.

An Early Flight Simulator

 

At the museum, you can see flight simulators used in World War Two and get information on Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit the Earth, and the Whirly Girls an international organization of women helicopter pilots founded in 1955 and has since grown to some 3,000 or so members that include the former Shah of Iran’s sister.

Located at 1501 N. Marginal Road, the museum exhibits are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. Guided tours are offered Monday – Friday by appointment for a nominal fee. Phone 216-623-1111 or www.iwasm.org.

The Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University is home to nearly 200,000 artifacts that explore the history of medicine. The museum is open to the public free of charge.

A Child’s Iron Lung to Help Polio Victims

Located at 11000 Euclid Ave., the Dittrick collections focus on surgical instruments, historic contraceptive devices, turn of the century X-ray equipment, midwifery, microscopes, nursing uniforms and more.

” We house no human specimens or exhibits of shock value but concentrate on the technology of medicine from the early 1860s up to the early 2000s,” said Jennifer Nieves, archivist. “We’re not quirky, but an educational institution that takes things seriously.”

An Item in the Contraception Collection

Things that standout from my visit include the reconstructed doctor’s offices from 1875 and 1920, old stethoscopes, an infant’s iron lung and an exhibit that focuses on the history of contraception. Phone 216=368-3648 or artsci.case.edu/dittrick.

For more information on Cleveland, phone 216-875-6600 or www.thisiscleveland.com.

The Stone Gables Inn
    For a Place to Stay, Stone Gables Inn, 3806 Franklin Blvd. is located in a historic mansion in  the trendy neighborhood of Ohio City. All five rooms have private baths (some have whirlpool tubs) and free WiFi. The inn is within walking distance to restaurants, breweries and the West Side Market. Phone 425-417-2015 or stonegablesinn.com.
cleveland
Clay Bread, Crispy Puris and Herb Raita .

For a Place to Dine, Amba, 1430 W. 28th St., serves Indian fusion inspired cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere. Those unfamiliar with Indian foods might want to try the chef’s tasting menu or select the menu items that spike your interest such as chick pea fritters, spicy sloppy joe keema (venison), herb grilled chicken tikka, lentil donuts and the excellent clay bread. The specialty cocktails are unique. Phone 216-417-6718 or ambacle.com.

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