The Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS), the center for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio history, is pleased to announce a project to renovate its Library in University Circle. A transformative gift of $3,000,000 from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation allows WRHS to continue the physical and cultural transformation of the Cleveland History Center, WRHS’s main campus and headquarters in University Circle, through a major renovation of Library public spaces and staff offices.
WRHS’s Library facility is a 64,000 square foot, four-story building completed in 1983 to house the expansive collection of published materials, including 250,000 books, 25,000 newspapers, and numerous maps, sheet music, broadsides, and printed ephemera. WRHS’s unpublished manuscript collections of personal papers and records, photographs, and audio and video recordings are available for research to students, scholars, and the general public. Collections include a Community History Archive that includes the African American Archives, Cleveland Jewish Archives, Italian American Archives, Corporate and Philanthropic Archives, and LGBTQ Archives, to name a few. Library collections document every aspect of life in Cleveland and the region, including religion, politics, immigration, gender, ethnicity, transportation, business, labor, war, philanthropy, medicine, neighborhoods, and entertainment. The Library is regarded as a premier genealogical research center with extensive collections of family history research materials.
The project to renovate the Library’s main floor public Reading Room and consolidate staff workspaces is a longstanding strategic priority. In fact, conversations about aligning institutional culture with WRHS’s core values and community needs began more than two years ago with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. The Foundation has been consistently supportive of WRHS’s work in recent years to better engage the community in its history, by making a $500,000 gift to be presenting sponsor for Cleveland Starts Here®, a permanent exhibit about Cleveland and northeast Ohio, supporting the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel restoration project, and serving as a major supporter for the Cleveland History Center (CHC) campus master plan.
“We are incredibly thankful to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation for their ongoing support of the Western Reserve Historical Society,” says WRHS Board Chair, Peter Kelley. “This very generous grant allows us to transform our library public space and create a modern work environment for our employees that will foster increased flexibility and collaboration. When complete, our community will benefit from the modernization and flexibility of the renovated library public space as they conduct research using our vast collections.”
Kelly Falcone-Hall, WRHS President and CEO, said “Leadership support from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation has enabled WRHS to change its relationship with the communities it was established to serve 154 years ago. The transformation of the Library, the beating heart of WRHS, represents our future while honoring our rich history. This project is especially relevant now in light of changes in the way WRHS works and responds to the changing needs and interests of our community.”
Prior to the pandemic, staff offices were located throughout nearly 8 acres of the Cleveland History Center campus. The renovation brings WRHS’s team of staff, volunteers, and consultants together in a fresh, accessible, equitable new space that disrupts traditional workplace norms, increases collaboration, flexibility, transparency, and workforce mobility. To achieve its vision, WRHS partnered with AECOM, a premier infrastructure consulting firm, to manage the project from design through construction.
“Mort Mandel would always say that WRHS is a hidden gem of the Cleveland community,” said Jehuda Reinharz, President and CEO of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation. “He wanted to ensure the community knew about WRHS’s vast collections and that its employees had a workspace that is reflective of this high-quality organization. We are looking forward to seeing how the space will allow for staff collaboration and to further the organization’s mission.”
WRHS expects construction to begin in early 2021. As such, the Library is closed to the public and will continue to accommodate research requests by email as well as in person. WRHS follows all mandatory and recommended local, state and federal pandemic guidelines and will accommodate research needs by appointment. For an appointment, please email Ann Sindelar at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about this project, please contact Kelly Falcone-Hall at email@example.com.
About Western Reserve Historical Society
Western Reserve Historical Society was founded in 1867 to preserve and present the history of all of the people of Northeast Ohio. Today, WRHS is one of the largest regional historical societies in the nation with a mission to inspire people to discover the American experience by exploring the tangible history of Northeast Ohio.
WRHS is a Smithsonian Affiliate a national outreach program that develops collaborative partnerships with cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. WRHS is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. Sponsorships, bequests, grants, admissions, and other funding are used by WRHS to preserve and enrich the region’s artistic and cultural heritage.
WRHS has earned a top four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s most-used independent evaluator of charities and nonprofits. Visit us at 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio, 44106, at www.wrhs.org or on social media @clestartshere.