Jul 3, 2012

3592 E. 149th St. ReBirth Certificate

3592 E. 149th Street
Built in 1953
Single-family dwelling: three bedrooms, two bathrooms
The Place
The makeup of the neighborhood of Mount Pleasant has undergone both ethnic and socioeconomic shifts since it was first settled in 1826.
The first residents hailed from the Isle of Man, near Ireland. Then, in the late 19th century an influx of Jewish settlers from Bavaria arrived, only to move out again in the 1930s. Other immigrant groups in the 19th and early 20th century included Czechs and Italians.
In 1921, Mount Pleasant became a neighborhood instead of a rural community: streets were mapped and trees planted along Bartlett Ave., just half a block away from 3799 E. 149th St.
Now, it’s a predominantly African-American community. The first African-American settlers came to the community during World War I. In the 1940s and 1950s, African-Americans became the majority ethnic group in the area.
The neighborhood’s socioeconomic makeup has been in flux since the mid-20th century. Philip Richards, an African-American writer and professor who grew up in the area, wrote about the population shifts in the neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s, as seen by his own family: “[Richards’ parents]…departed Mount Pleasant as it filled with black newcomers from the inner city. Years earlier, when they had moved into Mount Pleasant, both the Eastern European immigrants and the black middle class were leaving.”1
Now, Mount Pleasant is an area with a rich history and hope for the future. Many positive programs have been initiated, including a painting program to revitalize existing structures, home ownership workshops, an energy efficiency program, and other community outreach through Mount Pleasant NOW. Luke Easter Park and the Zelma Watson George Community Center also provide opportunities for community building in Mount Pleasant.
The People
The house from which your [table/countertop ] was made was built in 1953, a time when racial tension was a prominent issue for the denizens of Cleveland. Phillip Richards wrote about his experience coming of age in Mount Pleasant in the 1960s, and we can imagine that those who lived in the house had similar experiences.
Richards attended elementary school in a mostly white part of town and then went to Alexander Hamilton Junior High School in Mount Pleasant. As he grew up, he struggled against his anger even as it was provoked by seemingly everyone around him--black or white. He found solace in academia and is now an English professor at Colgate University. You can read more about his experiences in the Cleveland Magazine article from 20062 or in his book, An Integrated Boyhood: Coming of Age in White Cleveland.
April McClellan-Copeland, a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, recently participated in a multimedia series3 that takes a look at Mount Pleasant’s past and present. She fondly remembers her childhood on 138th St., recalling family parties and playing outside with the large number of children who lived on her block. She spoke of the respect for neighbors that was characteristic of that close-knit community.
Tommy LiPuma, legendary Cleveland music producer and Verve label head, also grew up in Mount Pleasant, very near where the house once stood. The first record he made was the O’Jays early regional hit, “Lipstick Traces4.” LiPuma continually gives back to his hometown, donating funds to the Cleveland Art Museum and to Cuyahoga Community College.
The Wood
The house at 3799 E. 149th Street was built of Southern Yellow Pine, the strongest softwood lumber. A popular choice for home-building because of its strength, ability to hold fasteners, and its resistance to wear, Southern Yellow Pine played a key role in building during the Industrial Revolution. Europe imported vast amounts of Southern Yellow Pine in the 19th century.
It’s a high density wood that grows in a band from East Texas all the way to Virginia. It has been used in home construction since the 1800s and is also used extensively in wooden roller coasters, docks, and utility poles.
There are four main species: shortleaf, longleaf, loblolly, and slash. Each of these species has similar characteristics, but can demonstrate variation in color and grain. Color ranges from light orange to dark red, and can even sometimes be a cream color. The grain pattern might be wavy or knotty. Sometimes its long needles are used in holiday decorations when it’s cut.
A popular wood still in abundant use today, Southern Yellow Pine grows rapidly and is renewed more quickly than it is harvested. Growing it does not endanger old growth forests.

Harvesting the Wood!
1 Richards, Philip. “Coming of Age at Alexander Hamilton Junior High School.” Cleveland Magazine. October, 2006.

2 Richards, Philip. “Coming of Age at Alexander Hamilton Junior High School.” Cleveland Magazine. October, 2006.

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