Address:820 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44108
Dedication Date:1934. Fountain dedicated 1953
Polish Cultural Center
History & Design:
The Polish Cultural Garden began development in 1928, when Polish cultural organizations came together with other Cleveland ethnic groups to continue the expansion of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens on East Boulevard. At that time Cleveland’s Polish population was quite large, following waves of immigration starting in the late 1800s continuing to the turn of the century, and again following World War I. Poles first settled in Berea, Ohio and soon after created a large settlement in what is now known as Slavic Village on the city’s East Side. Other Poles settled in Cleveland’s Tremont area and also west of Doan Brook in the St. Casimir Parish area. Today, Americans with Polish roots are living and working throughout Northeast Ohio
The Polish Cultural Garden was originally funded through a grant from the federal Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.. It was designed as a sunken, hexagonal court encircled by granite walls. At the center of the stone hexagonal court is a lovely water fountain and pond, now scheduled for future refurbishment. It is surrounded by beds of lush florals, grasses and hydrangea. Two Linden trees from Poland were transported and planted at the entrance to the garden on East Boulevard.
The stone court then leads to walkways on the upper level where perched on granite monoliths are busts of Poles known for remarkable contributions to the world in literature, music, performing arts and science.
The six bronze busts surrounding the courtyard are:
Pianist, composer and statesman Ignacy Paderewski and renowned pianist and composer Frederic Chopin, whose statues were dedicated in 1947;
Scientist and twice Nobel prize recipient Madame Marie Sklodowska Curie;
Nobel prize recipient and one of the Central Europe’s most renowned authors Henryk Sienkiewicz, unveiled in 1949.
Adam Mickiewicz, one of greatest Slavic and European poets of all time, unveiled in 1949.
The 16th century astronomer and mathematician Nicholaus Copernicus also stands in the Polish Garden, sculpted in granite.
The most recent bronze statue dedicated in May 2019 is that of Saint John Paul II. The former Karol Jozef Wojtyla was the first non-Italian Pope of the Catholic Church in centuries; during his long tenure he was known for international travel and outreach to different cultures and to youth. He was canonized in 2014. Saint John Paul’s statue was sculpted by renowned Polish-American sculptor Andrzej Pitynski.
The garden was renovated in 2015. Many plant species used in the renovation were selected by director Connie (Glazewski) Adams who traveled to the Warsaw University Botanical Garden in Warsaw, Poland where she researched plantings viability to Cleveland climate. She found the climates to be identical and plant species found in Warsaw are now thriving in the Polish Cultural Garden.
Below is the bust of St. John Paul II in the Polish Garden.