Whomever looted the National Museum of Iraq during the Iraq war, has nothing on the so-called "stewards" appointed to "safeguard what was once a fabulous collection of antiques and historic artifacts chronicling the history of the Western Reserve at the WRHS..For those of you who don't know, the Western Reserve was a region of Ohio, granted by King Charles ll, which was originally reserved by the colony of Connecticut for future settlement.
My wife and I always loved the WRHS, and share fond childhood memories of field trips to this once splendid institution. There was the beautiful and enormous Oriental rug where Queen Elizabeth reportedly once stood; what seemed like a life-sized dollhouse to an elementary school student, complete with fine furnishings and lighting; and then there was the Napoleon Room filled with artifacts that were of course everything Napoleon.
When we began dating we would wander through the attached two old mansions and fantasize about what life was like for Cleveland's wealthy during the Gilded Era. We remember what we recall was an octagonal shaped room (now closed to the public) where every Sunday society ladies would serve lemonade, iced tea and the absolute best gingerbread ever.
When we visited WRHS a few weeks ago, it seemed that of the relatively few rooms still open in only one of the old mansions, most of the antiquities were simply gone with mostly bare walls; the property looking more like a venue for parties and weddings than a museum.
Turns out, decades of bad decisions allegedly resulted in the museum selling-off much of its collection to fund its very survival; and apparently without much accountability to the families who donated to the Society over the years, or to the public who so enjoyed visiting this once fabulous regional asset.
For an in-depth look at what supposedly happened to WRHS, there are more than a few articles available online.
On a positive note, the WRHS has an excellent library filled with manuscripts and genealogy research tools and they still offer some terrific programs and fun events. Finally, the two mansions haven't been leveled to be replaced by a fast foods restaurant ( the fate of some Cleveland landmarks) which is unlikely to occur of course, and the museum still has a few pretty cool vintage cars and airplanes that it didn't sell ... at least yet.
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