The American Cultural Garden is located west of the upper Boulevard just north of the Superior Avenue intersection. It is planted informally with native varieties of trees, shrubs, and vines.
In 1933 the administration of the Cleveland Council Parent Teacher's Association, by unanimous resolution voted to support the American Garden project. Mrs. Norma Wulff, then president of the P.T.A. Council, appointed Mrs. Anna Ochs as chairman of the American Garden project. Mrs. Jennie K. Zwick was invited to speak before the P.T.A. and described in detail the plan for the American Garden.
The future site of the American Garden was dedicated by the Parent Teachers Association Council on May 24, 1935. Mrs. Norma Wulff presided and introduced Mrs. Anna Ochs. Cleveland school children participated in the program with American folk dancing, and the P.T.A. Mothersingers sang American folk songs, including those of Stephen Foster. Charles L. Lake, then superintendent of schools, extended greetings. School bands played the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful."
Here on December 6, 1935, a bronze bust of Mark Twain, the work of Frank L. Jirouch, and bought with pennies given by the Cuyahoga County public school children, was unveiled upon the 100th anniversary of the author's birth. Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel Langhorn Clemens (1835-1910), most famous for his works, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, was the first American to be commemorated in the Cultural Gardens. The bust was accepted by the late Hugo E. Varga, parks director. A program followed at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Speakers included Mr. E. J. Bryan, superintendent of Cuyahoga County Schools Charles Wolfram, at that time president of the Cultural Gardens League Mayor Harold H. Burton Dr. A. Caswell Ellis, director of Cleveland College Mr. Ted Robinson, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's "Philosopher of Folly" and Mr. Robert K. Beck, president of the County Board of Education. The program also included songs by Public School pupils, under the direction of Zoe Long Fouts, and a skit based on the works of Mark Twain.
On October 27, 1938, Mark Twain's daughter, Clara, at that time Madame Ossip Gabrilowitsch, placed a wreath at the Twain bust.
On July 23, 1939, a bust of John Hay (1838-1905), American statesman and author, secretary to Abraham Lincoln, and Secretary of State from 1898 to 1905, was dedicated. The bust was presented to the American Garden by the B'nai B'rith organization, in recognition of John Hay's great service in defense
Daughter of Mark Twain (the former Clara Clemens) at the Twain Memorial
of European Jewry against the Russian and Roumanian persecutions of the 19th century, which he regarded as a major matter of international concern. As a young attorney, he married Clara Stone, daughter of Amasa Stone, of Cleveland, and was a resident of Cleveland for about ten years. He is buried in Lake View Cemetery, near the tomb of President Garfield. The inscription on the John Hay monument in the American Garden reads as follows:
"Companion and biographer of Lincoln, ambassador to Great Britain Secretary of State under McKinley and Roosevelt, author, journalist. Presented by B'nai B'rith on the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Hay, in recognition of his championship of the cause of the persecuted, and his merited distinction as a statesman of good will."
Speakers at the John Hay dedication ceremony were Mayor Harold H. Burton, Rabbi Armond E. Cohen, Philmore J. Haber, Charles J. Wolfram, and Harold T. Clark. The Hay bust is the work of Frank L. Jirouch.
On August 2, 1948, a bust of Artemus Ward (1834-1867), pen name of Charles Farrar Browne, noted lecturer and humorist, and in 1859 a member of the Cleveland Plain Dealer staff, was given to the city by the Plain Dealer. The work of Sculptor Frank Jirouch, the bust was presented to the City of Cleveland by William G. Vorpe, Sunday editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on behalf of Paul Bellamy, editor-in-chief. Mayor Thomas A. Burke accepted the bust for the city, Charles J. Wolfram gratefully acknowledged it as a notable addition to the other Cultural Garden memorials, and Donald Lybarger, president of the Early Settlers' Association, was the principal speaker in a talk paying tribute to Ward's career. At the conclusion of the dedication, the bust was unveiled by Miss Patricia Gray, assistant society editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and great-granddaughter of A. N. Gray, co-founder of the Plain Dealer. William Ganson Rose was master of ceremonies.
At the apex of the hillside triangle which forms the entrance to the American Garden stands a bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth President of the United States known as the "Great Emancipator." Also the work of Sculptor Frank L. Jirouch, the bust was dedicated on July 22, 1950, on the occasion of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Cultural Gardens. The bust was made possible by the "Peter Witt memorial fund." Principal speakers at the dedication were Governor Frank J. Lausche, Nathaniel R. Howard, editor of the Cleveland News, and Albert A. Woldman, vice-president of the Abraham Lincoln Association of Ohio.
"Like Lincoln, we must face unflinchingly the task Fate set before us," said Governor Lausche, in his address. Mr. Howard, in a tribute to Peter Witt,
Children of Cuyahoga County Schools Gather at Dedication of Mark Twain Memorial
former councilman and civic leader, said that the late Clevelander admired Lincoln for his qualities of courage and patience, for his simple faith in the American people, and for his strength as a constitutional revolutionist. "Now is a time when we can all stand a little hones hero worship," Mr. Howard added.
Mr. Woldman described Lincoln's visit to Cleveland on his way to Washington for his 1861 inauguration. The Lincoln bust was unveiled by Peter Witt's granddaughter, Miss Sally Cummins.
On June 11, 1951, the dedication of the completed Lincoln shrine took place. Historian William Ganson Rose spoke, paying tribute to Lincoln, John Hay, George Washington, Artemus Ward, and other famous Americans. Mayor Thomas A. Burke also spoke, paying tribute to the generous efforts and activities of Charles Wolfram and Leo Weidenthal, and other Federation leaders. George Kalkas was program chairman. The pedestal upon which rests the sculptured head was donated by the city. The inscription upon it reads:
"Erected in memory of Peter Witt
Devoted public servant who sought light and guidance from the ideals of the Great Emancipator. 1869-1948."
Set in the Lincoln shrine to the right of the bust is an ornamental bronze tablet inscribed with the complete Gettysburg Address, and signed with a reproduction of the author's autograph--A. Lincoln. The plaque, with stone mounting, was a joint gift of A. L. Maresh, noted Lincoln collector, and General Julius Klein, who presented the mounting through the Jewish War Veterans.
Active chairmanship has been shared by Mrs. Anna M. Ochs and Mrs. Norma Wulff, under whose presidency in later years the work of the reorganization of the American Garden on a broad scale has been in progress. Mrs. Ochs is vice-president.
Typical of our national culture which it represents, in the Cultural Gardens chain, the American Garden, in its picturesque and flourishing forest setting, confidently awaits additions of other leaders in the nation's life.
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