(Plain Press, August 2019)Tremont’s first outdoor Art + History Museum was unveiled during Walkabout Tremont on Friday July 12 at the southeast corner of Professor and College Avenues. More than 40 images of old Tremont were placed on permanent display—weatherproof, digital reproductions of water colors, oils, collages, line-art and even old postcards.
The Tremont West Development Corporation Arts Committee, in cooperation with the Tremont History Project and the Tremont Central Block Club, unveiled the permanent display. The images are bolted to the newly painted wood fence and are all designed for 24/7, 12-month exposure. Every piece in the Tremont Art + Historycollection was created between 1862 and 1950.
In the near future, the Arts Committee hopes to expand the Tremont Art + History Museum with an additional section that features views of Tremont by contemporary local artists. Plans also are underway to install lighting.
An additional treat for those interested Cleveland history and the history of the Tremont neighborhood is a fascinating history of Cleveland’s role in the Civil war, titled “Welcome to Camp Cleveland.” This well-documented study that includes historical photos and maps was written by Chris Roy, Co-Chair of the Tremont West Development Corporation Arts Committee.
“Welcome to Camp Cleveland” describes how Cleveland was transformed during the Civil War years more than doubling its population from 43,417 people in 1860 to 92,829 in 1870.
“Welcome to Camp Cleveland” also goes into detail about the major role the area that is now the Tremont neighborhood, played in hosting Civil Ward camps – first Camp Wade and then Camp Cleveland; both on roughly the same site that Roy outlines the boundaries of as:
Camp Wade, established in the northeast corner of what is now known as Tremont (then University Heights). Camp Wade’s borders were West 7th Street on the west (then known as University Street), West 5th Street on the east (then Herschal Street), Literary Road on the north and Jefferson Street (then known as Franklin Street) on the south. This is part of the site that, in 1862, became Camp Cleveland. Like most of the Cleveland-area facilities, Camp Wade was little more than a collection of tents and temporary buildings. It opened in August of 1861 and closed that October. Silas Stone, a real estate dealer, leased the property to the State of Ohio for the sum of one dollar. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 21, 1862)
The story Roy tells includes the role of Camp Cleveland in training soldiers coming from throughout Northeast Ohio, and soldiers going on leave in Cleveland. The creation of the 320 bed United States General Hospital (Cleveland) in November 1862 to serve Union soldiers. The hospital was constructed on the corner of Herschal and Franklin Streets (now W. 5thand Jefferson) according to the article.
Roy describes the role Cleveland citizens played in supporting soldiers going off to war and wounded soldiers, soldiers on leave, and soldiers returning home after the war.
The role Cleveland’s women played was especially significant. Roy describes an organization that eventually became what we today call the Red Cross:
Many of the area’s most notable contributions came from the Cleveland Branch of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. The U.S. Sanitary Commission, whose mission was to centralize relief work throughout the North, was the predecessor of today’s Red Cross. Formed on April 20, 1861, as the Ladies’ Aid Society (the organization was established and operated entirely by women) and then the Soldiers’ Aid Society, the Cleveland Branch was the first such organization in the country. By the summer of 1862, with other Cleveland camps closed, the Cleveland Branch’s efforts focused almost exclusively on assisting soldiers billeted at Camp Cleveland. (Source: Eugene H. Roseboom and Francis P. Weisenburger. A History of Ohio (Columbus, Ohio: The OhioHistorical Society, 1967). Page 199.)
For Tremont residents today, especially those who live along Tremont Ridge, Roy’s “Welcome to Camp Cleveland” will help them picture what life may have been like. Here is Roy’s take on the modern-day site of what was once Camp Cleveland:
Within the Camp Cleveland footprint, 80 to 90 percent of current residences were built after 1990. Yet, it’s likely that only a fraction of the area’s residents is aware of the rich heritage that lies beneath their homes and feet. Perhaps those who are aware can visualize a bustling neighborhood of fresh-faced recruits and enthusiastic volunteers, as well as a ceaseless cacophony of scenes, sounds and smells. Perhaps they’ll also envision a typical summer day in 1865 on the same Tremont ridge that still overlooks the river and the city. Hot and muggy, with birds singing and insects buzzing. Every hour, hundreds of soldiers—exhausted and frequently compromised in mind or body—tromping doggedly through University Heights to homes south and west, or perhaps through the Flats to Cleveland and points north and east. Clevelanders who hadn’t seen their families in years. Clevelanders who lost friends, limbs and lives at Atlanta, Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Kennesaw Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Nashville, Shiloh, Petersburg and Vicksburg. Clevelanders who watched tired and proud as Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Clevelanders who helped win the war. This is the legacy of Camp Cleveland.
Editor’s Note:Chris Roy has generously offered to share “Welcome to Camp Cleveland” with Plain Pressreaders. To view the complete 27-page document visit the Plain Presswebsite at http://www.plainpress.org.