Stories by: Tom Matowitz

Recently retired after a 37-year career teaching public speaking, Tom Matowitz has had a lifelong interest in local and regional history. Working as a freelance author for the past 20 years he has written a number of books and articles about Cleveland’s past. He has a particular interest in the area’s rich architectural history.

Hollenden Hotel: Downtown Cleveland’s glamorous, colorful hotspot for nearly 100 years
Cleveland Masterworks: The 1885 Hollenden Hotel, just east of Public Square, was regarded as one of the most glamorous hotels in the country—attracting U.S. Presidents, industrial giants, and celebrities.
Harlen Shimmin: Specialized in upscale homes throughout Northeast Ohio
Cleveland Masterworks: Native Clevelander Harlen Shimmin was known for his Tudor Revival style brick and stone homes built from Edgewater to Shaker Heights.
Puritas Springs Park: Cleveland’s west side amusement park, home of The Cyclone
Cleveland Masterworks: Early 20th Century Cleveland boasted about half a dozen amusement parks, including Puritas Springs Park on the city's west side., which was home The Cyclone roller coaster—the highest and fastest coaster in Cleveland.
The Garfield Building: Home to two banks, a jeweler, apartments, and a top-notch steak house
Cleveland Masterworks: Designed by Henry Ives Cobb and constructed in 1893, the Garfield Building on Euclid Avenue and Bond Street was designed with banking facilities in the basement level. Today, the building hosts apartments and the Marble Room restaurant.
The U.S.S. Cod: a refurbished tribute to lost World War II Navy submariners
Commissioned in 1943, the U.S.S. Cod was fired upon in the Caribbean, traveled the Panama Canal crossed the Pacific Ocean to bases in Fremantle and Brisbane, Australia, and Apra Harbor, and Guam, completed seven war patrols in the South Pacific before becoming a staple in downtown Cleveland in 1976.
Alfred Hoyt Granger: Designed grand homes for elite Cleveland Heights, Bratenahl residents
Cleveland Masterworks: Although architect Alfred Hoyt Granger only was in Cleveland and in partnership with Frank B. Meade for a short time, he made an impression in the late 1800s and early 1900s with his designs on Overlook Road in Cleveland Heights and on Lake Shore Boulevard in Bratenahl.
William Mathewson Milliken, acquired prized exhibits for the Cleveland Museum of Art
William Mathewson Milliken, the second director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, curated many of the prized exhibits that earned the museum its stellar reputation.
Jordan Playboy: The epitome of 1920s automobile style
Cleveland Masterworks: Ned Jordan, the founder of Collinwood's Jordan Motor Car Company, is remembered for his innovative advertising campaigns and large color selection for the Jordan Playboy roadsters that hit the roads in the 1920s.
Dunham Tavern: A piece of the 1820s in MidTown
Cleveland Masterworks: Rufus and Jane Pratt Dunham arrived in Cleveland in 1819 and built a tavern to hold social events and accommodate stagecoach drivers. The oldest building in Cleveland standing in its original location, Dunham Tavern is a slice of history in the modern landscape.
The ghosts of Champlain Street: The downtown sites lost to make way for the Terminal Tower
Cleveland Masterworks: The 1920s construction of the Terminal Tower meant the demise of several downtown streets and buildings—like the Cleveland Telephone Company building and the Champlain Street Cleveland Police Station complex.
Moyenage: a grand lakefront home to many prominent Cleveland business founders throughout history
One of the grandest houses on Lakeshore Boulevard in Bratenahl is Moyenage—a 1904 Elizabethan Tudor that has been home to several of Cleveland's most notable business families.
A tale of two steamers: The tragic stories of The Western Reserve and the W.H. Gilcher
Cleveland Masterworks: The Great Lakes became of highway of commerce in the late 19th Century, with innovative leaps in steamship construction. Two of the most advanced ships of the time were the Western Reserve and the W.H. Gilcher—yet both steamers met with tragic demise.
St. Ignatius of Loyola: A lasting Cleveland legacy from the 16th Century
Cleveland Masterworks: Ignatius of Loyola found religious transformation after being injured in the Battle of Pamplona—eventually becoming one of the founders of Jesuit education, canonized as Saint Ignatius, and becoming the inspiration for St. Ignatius High School in Ohio City and John Carroll University in University Heights.
St. Hubert’s Episcopal Church: All are Welcome at this historic house of worship
Cleveland Masterworks: Originally built in 1893 on the banks of the Chagrin River, St. Hubert's Episcopal Church served wealthy Clevelanders on retreat at Kirtland's Little Mountain. The church has moved several times over the past 130 years, but continues to welcome everybody at its current Kirtland Hills location.
The Spitzer-Dempsey House: From opulent to austere, to renewed grandeur
Cleveland Masterworks: The Spitzer-Dempsey House in Ohio City was once a symbol of wealth and privilege before becoming a boarding house and law offices—and eventually a murder site—before being restored to all its glory. 
New York Spaghetti House: A family-run favorite for 74 years
Cleveland Masterworks: In 1927 Mario Brigotti took what he learned from working as a waiter in New York's Italian restaurants and opened the New York Spaghetti House on East 9th Street. The place became a Cleveland staple for 74 years.
Oliver Hazard Perry Payne: Cleveland businessman, philanthropist, war veteran
Cleveland Masterworks: Oliver Hazard Perry Payne led the Cleveland-based 124th Ohio Volunteer Infantry through intense combat in the Civil War—rising through the ranks by age 24—before launching a thriving business career in oil with John D. Rockefeller and sharing his wealth with family and through philandtrhopy.
The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment: Civil War soldiers at Antietam, Gettysburg
Cleveland Masterworks: The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, mustered in 1861 at Camp Taylor, fought in many famous Civil War battles, including Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
Freemasons: Known for public service, entertainment, charity for more than 200 years
Cleveland Masterworks: Freemasons, the oldest fraternal organization in the world that is committed to self-improvement, charity, and brotherhood, had a presence in Cleveland dating back to the early 19th Century. With Masonic Lodges throughout the area, and the Masonic Auditorium on Euclid Avenue, the traditions of Freemasonry continue today.
Cleveland Municipal Airport: Before it was Hopkins, this airport was leading the way in aviation
Cleveland Masterworks: In the early 1900s, transcontinental airmail flights would stop in Cleveland at an airport in Glenville. By 1925, concern over resident safety lead officials to build Cleveland Municipal Airport on farmland on Broopark Road—the site for the National Air Races and today's Hopkins International Airport.