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Warner and Swasey Observatory, East Cleveland, OH

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posted by Warren LeMay alias w_lemay on Friday 13th of July 2018 01:45:44 AM

The old Warner and Swasey Observatory stands on a knoll overlooking Taylor Road in East Cleveland, Ohio. Constructed in 1919, the building was designed by local firm Walker and Weeks in what appears to be a Byzantine Revival Style. Initially consisting of only the smaller of the two telescope domes and a two-story support wing, the building was gifted to the Case Institute of Applied Science in 1920 by the Warner and Swasey Company, whom manufactured machine tools and precision instruments, and were based in the city. The building was substantially expanded in 1941, adding the larger telescope dome to accommodate a larger, more powerful instrument, and an auditorium for academic lectures on astronomy. The building continued to be used for groundbreaking scientific research through the 1950s, but increasing suburbanization and light pollution led to the observatory’s movement to Geauga County, away from the bright lights of Cleveland, in 1957, where it remained until moving further afield in 1979. The old observatory was then outfitted with a 36-inch diameter telescope, and was used as a public observatory and educational facility until it closed in 1980 due to a lack of funds, the folding of its main benefactor and namesake, and lack of interest in the facility from Case Western Reserve University and local residents. Since that time, the observatory has languished, and though there were proposals to turn it into a private residence, none have come to fruition, and over the past decade, scrappers and vandals have trashed the building, removing all valuable metals and the sheathing on the domes, and making a mess of the place. Today, it sits forlorn, bleak, and empty, a sad fate for a building that was once very important to astronomical research, and an anchor of a middle-class community that has since fallen on hard times, and is struggling to hold on to what little affluence it has left.

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  • Published 05.25.22
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