Saturday, July 9, 2011

Art Deco Cleveland

One of the angels at the base of the copper paneled octagon and flèche of the 'oil can'. Such angels were common motifs in the 1920s and '30s. One of several angels (1924) between the arches of the nave of St. John (Kanty) Cantius, Cleveland. Leo Friedlander was a New York sculptor. His work in Cleveland was the outside building sculpture on the Oil Can Church. To the right side of the main entrance there is Veronika, holding the cloth containing the image of Jesus during his via crucis. She is part a greek karyatid, part a vestal virgin but stylized geometrically, and stream lined. Her face is similar to the figures of the Lorain-Carnegie pylons.
several of the guardian heads in studio/plant June 19, 1932
Similar in style were the 'Guardians of Traffic' on the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge pylons.   Henry Hering was the sculptor. Workmen at Ohio Cut Stone did the labor. The architectural firm was the same as the Oil Can Church. Frank Walker was the architect that worked with Hering. Romanised assyrian genii, with wrap around wings, that guarded the cities and palaces were given mercury helmets, bookended the four pylons. The 43' pylons were cut from local, Berea, sandstone. The bridge was opened in 1932 after more than a decade of carping, and delays. This is the most monumental display of Cleveland deco. Of course, this project would have easily fit into Mussolini's Italy. In the interwar period there were many archælogical digs in the Middle-East. Egyptian discoveries caught a greater share of public, and design interest, but not exclusively. Artists blended, and chose elements from several ancient lands for part of art deco creation.

A wrap around angel is on the gravestone of Francis Prentiss (†1937) in Lake View Cemetery. His widow, Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss, was a benefactor to the Cleveland Art Museum. Severance Hall's [concert hall] pediment sculpture is by Hering; it is more Beaux-Arts than deco. Her father was a partner of John D. Rockefeller; she and her family had more than ample wealth to be acknowledged in giving away a portion of excess.


  1. The image of the sculptor with all four heads is AMAZING. I have never seen it.

    1. There is another similar historic image from the sculptors studio. Here's a link:

  2. The architect of the Oil Can Church (Euclid-Epworth) was Bertram Goodhue of Boston. Goodhue died in 1924 with the church unfinished and Walker & Weeks were engaged to complete it. It was finished in 1928.

    Frank Walker did the 'Guardians of Traffic' with sculptor Henry Hering and Walker, with his firm Walker & Weeks, also worked with Hering on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Severance Hall...and a few more.