For far too long, cities in the United States have taken the case of rehabilitation of historic properties with a grain of salt. It is typically done towards the end-stage for a neighborhood, when there are precious few buildings left to save or when gentrification has set afoot. But what happens when there is no case of future rehabilitation of a particular neighborhood, when the building is stripped, gutted and left to collapse upon itself?
The Cleveland, Ohio Cedar Avenue substation was constructed in 1917, and was the first automatic substation completed for the Cleveland Railway Company. It was across the street from the Cedar Avenue power plant, which was then at the time the largest non-condensing direct-current plant in the United States, and was operated non-condensing because the exhaust steam was sold to a salt company adjacent at a price that made it difficult for the central station companies in Cleveland to compete with the Cleveland Railway’s power house on a per-kilowatt-hour output.
If buildings could have diaries, the complex of industrial structures along Ashland Road in Cleveland, Ohio would be overflowing with details on its long and illustrious history. Not much has been written about the complex, owing to a lack of information easily available, and misinterpretations based on various first-hand accounts and urban explorers. But what was uncovered was fascinating and complicated, more so than originally envisioned, and despite a wealth of materials uncovered, there are still gaps that have not yet been resolved.