Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cleveland Rock of Ages!

It's Sunday so the post will be about Cleveland's beautiful churches.

Seems that somewhere someone decided that this town needed religion and they needed it bad. A contest was held to see which religion could build the prettiest edifice, and there you go... a city that is dotted, almost to the point of every block, with gorgeous old churches.
Churches of every denomination and with stonework, brickwork, and all over architecture that begs the parishioner, "enter".

The years of standing in the exposed elements of a northern states steel mill/refining town takes its' toll; and these old houses of worship are tarnished and covered with the black soot of a coke oven. The soot filled air clings to the brick, and when the rains come it drizzles down the facade, sometimes coating the faces of saints and angels alike. To me, the blackened stone and brick add to the gothic structures and lend power to the already dramatic entry ways and adorned windows. In addition to the soot stains there are the ivy and other clinging plant life that crawl its' way up to heaven via the sides of the buildings. Sometimes the buildings were completely green with plants! Giant 'bushes' with window cutouts and doorways cleared of the growth. Amazing.

I loved the church with the obviously well maintained red doors that literally grabs you by the eye and pleads with you to pay attention. The stained glass in most of these churches is detailed and reflective of the memberships' choice of deity, saint, or particular religious lesson, history, or message to the community or passerby.

The many and varied steeples in the city were indeed dwarfed by the other buildings; sky scrapers, a zillion bridges, steel mills, factories and bill boards...however they still manage to peek out of the trees and signal just where you ought to be -instead of where it is you are headed to. Some are crosses, some are bell towered, some are multiple steeples or crosses that even differ on the same building, such as in the photo here.

They divide the congregations into race, ethnic, language and regional versions of Christianity, Muslim, Jew, and others. This town is full of God fearing folk!

I was talking with a certain missionary about the LDS church in town. I found two, and they looked as familiar as any I have ever seen. Most of my readers can spot a LDS chapel without any trouble. If nothing else the LDS are good at finding a way to simplify and organize even the building of churches. However, there was one neighborhood that went to the church and asked them to step up and take the structure up a notch...or ten. Seems that they also were familiar with the typical LDS building and, thank you very much, but that just wouldn't do sitting across the street from the other churches. So they petitioned pretty hard and finally the church gave in and produced a church that the surrounding neighborhood would feel comfy with. One with gothic features and a tad more decorative touches. Unfortunately I never found the building. Darn it all!

I remember the same situation happening, and being retold to me as I rode the trolley tour in New Orleans. A LDS chapel there was also built to accommodate the surrounding neighborhood with all the New Orleans wrought iron and French influenced architectural style. The trolley conductor/tour guide pointed out that none other of the modern churches or businesses would comply with the city request. He was impressed that a bunch of "uptight folks" would even live in New Orleans, much less build to comply -and happily so.

So enjoy. I just love the red doors, the circular windows and the arched doorways, the now blackened angels and saints who watch over all who walk on the property, and the ivy and soot that compete to cover the whole of it. Cleveland still rocks, just not on a Sunday!

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

I envy your chance of getting to really see a city while your husband is off in meetings. Guys don't usually want to spend the time it takes to get to see all this interesting stuff. Thank you for the tour!

s'mee said...

Thanks C. I could be envied for a lot of things when it comes to Thor:

He doesn't watch sports on t.v.
He never leaves the seat up.
He doesn't mind people watching in the commons while I take my time in a store.
And this man LOVES to drive. It's his main sorce of entertainment.

So after his workday is finished, he gets in the car, we grab a bite to eat, and we drive. We may never see the typical tourist stops, but we have seen pretty much every neighborhood in every city we have ever visited!