The Greek Cultural Garden is a sunken garden following the lines of a Greek cross. Its simple, classical effect, bridging the gap in spirit between the Periclean age and the modern age it most resembles --the American--is obtained without flowers.
The entrance is guarded by two Doric columns which are replicas of the ones a visitor sees while viewing the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece and opens on a westerly vista terminating in a reflecting pool and circular seats. Terraces formed of square-cut sandstone are planted with ilex, coloneastus, myrtle, and sweetbay, with cedars and Lombardy poplars to give the spire-like impression of cypresses. Maurice Cornell was garden architect.
The chief feature of this garden is a pylon symbolizing the wall of the Parthenon, dedicated to the Greek spirit in philosophy, art, literature, and science. It is inscribed with the names of Solon, Ictinus, Callicrates, Phidias, Aristophanes, Pericles, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Homer, Praxiteles, Zeuxis, Apelles, Myron, Lysippus, Scopas, Sappho, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Aristotle, Plato, Aristarchus, Demosthenes, Pindar, Archimedes, Herodotus, Xenophon, Thucydides, Euclid, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Polycletus, and El Greco.
The ancient Greek architects devoted themselves above all to the problems of the column and lintel and the creation of beautiful temples. The open-air life which the climate invited, the simplicity of Greek ideals and respect for tradition, all favored the creation of forms of architecture which no later Western people has even forgotten.
It is in Greece that the personality of individual architects first became clear. The development of architecture was in extreme refinement, unity, beauty, symmetry and in musical harmony with physical laws.
This stately garden, with its serenity and dignity, is a fitting symbol of the great ideas it represents. For it is a sanctuary to the ancient Greek spirit of the search for truth and the supreme conquest of beauty. The Greek Garden was officially dedicated on June 2, 1940, with James C. Mylonas as program chairman. Kimon Diamantopoulos, minister of Greece to the United States cut a blue and white ribbon stretched between the two Doric columns at the entrance, this formally opening the garden. Archbishop Athenagoras of New York, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America, blessed the garden and was the central figure in a picturesque procession later in the program.
Dr. Elie George, president of the Greek Cultural Garden Association presented the garden to Cleveland with words: "May we and our children enjoy it and keep in our hearts the principles of cooperation which have made this garden possible."
Mayor Harold H. Burton, in accepting the garden on behalf of the city, hailed two outstanding traits in the Greek character: simplicity and a perfect sense of proportion. Principal speaker was Governor Lausche, at the time Common Pleas Judge. "We must join hands in giving strength and faith to the government of the United States," he said. "It is only in the kind of spirit exhibited here today that we can carry on the true ideals of our government. Each race gives something to America. And all of us together will make a greater, better and permanent America." The choir of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation sang Greek and American anthems.
Funds for the Greek Garden were initially raised in 1938 by the Hellenic clubs of Cleveland, which organized to defray the cost through a series of lectures and other events.
On August 14, 1949, on the 125th anniversary of the death of Lord Byron, an evergreen tree was dedicated to his memory in the Greek Cultural Garden thus adding Cleveland as an abiding place of the poet's liberty-loving spirit, to Missolonghi, where his heart is buried and to England, where are enshrined his other mortal remains. Major Edward J. Hobbs, British Consul in Cleveland, gave the chief address, sketching Byron's stormy career, and paying tribute to this proud, sensitive, and courageous hero. The evergreen was dedicated with the unfurling of a broad blue and white ribbon--the Greek national colors--from around the tree. As part of the ceremony, five young ladies danced the Kalamatiano, an old Greek folk dance. Miss Mary E. Hoover, librarian of the Cleveland Public Library, Euclid-East 101st Street Branch read from Byron's poem, "Don Juan," these lines of haunting beauty:
"The mountains look on Marathon--
And Marathon looks on the sea
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free
For standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave."
Honored guests included Menelaos Chopis, acting Greek Consul from Chicago, Judges Julius Kovachy and Joseph Artl, Charles J. Wolfram, then president of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation, and representatives from the Hellenic, British, and Scottish Societies. Congratulations were offered to the Greek community of Cleveland on the Byron memorial by Ralph S. Locher, secretary to Governor Frank J. Lausche, by Emil Bartunek, secretary to Mayor Thomas A. Burke, and by Charles J. Wolfram. The event was under the auspices of the Women's Auxiliary of the Laconian Society, and George N. Kalkas, president of the Laconian Society was mast of ceremonies. The dedication concluded with a tour of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
Pioneers in Greek Garden activity were Philip D. Peppas, V. John Harris, Nick Copanos, Gus Passalis, George N. Kalkas, James C. Mylonas, and Dr. Elie George, Reverend Chrysogomos Lavriotis, A. G. Panagotoulos, Harry Collins, Louis Pappas, Mosky Moskos, Constantine Vilos, Theodore Bibicos, Michael Johanides, Louis Pappas, Spiros Stratis, and Antonios Chiotes.
Plans for the future development of the Greek Cultural Garden have included the portrayal of renowned leaders in Greek thought and culture who moulded the course of civilization. Among them:
Socrates (469-399 B.C.), Greek philosopher, who devoted himself to the education of youth, believing that he was called to strive, by means of his teaching in the Agora, for a revival of moral feeling and the creation of a scientific foundation for truth and moral principles and who held that virtue is capable of being taught, that it brings one closest to Divine perfection and that all wickedness stems from ignorance;-
The Byron Tree Near the Foot of North Entrance Steps
Plato (427-347 B.C.), disciple of Socrates, whose philosophy stresses the teaching that reality belongs not to the individual thing, but to the general idea that individual things are fleeting copies of the form or idea, which dwells in the changeless unity forever, and is the sole purpose of real knowledge that linked with the theory of ideas is the doctrine of reminiscence or recollection, which contends that the soul has beheld the ideas in a previous stage of existence
Aristotle (384-321 B.C.), famed scientific investigator and first philosophical writer to make a strict separation of the branches of philosophy, dividing them into logic, metaphysics, physics, ethics, politics and the philosophy of art tutor of Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedonia and the future world conqueror founder in Athens of the school at the Lyceum where he taught and directed scientific experiments during the closing years of his life.
These and other leaders in the realm of philosophy and culture made the small nation of Greece a mighty influence in the shaping of the course of civilization. The thoughts of her sages, artists and dreamers moulded the thinking of myriads who followed them and her courageous struggles to regain her liberty were supported by inspired writers and thinkers of the modern age, who like Byron believed that it was the duty of lovers of democracy to support her cause.
Today, the mountains of Greece still look on Marathon and Marathon looks on a sea that laves the shores of a land whose people, heirs to a mighty culture, dwell in peace and in freedom.
View of the Greek Cultural Garden-Looking East
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