RISING This Is Where We Live
and Who We Are
It started as a simple question asked by Moreland residents: What is our history?
It became a multi-layered initiative to uncover and document the rich history of the people
and places – specifically the houses – in the southern Moreland neighborhood.
The Moreland History Project was hatched in 2016 and blossomed into a collaboration
among residents, the City, the Shaker Heights Public Library, the Shaker Historical Society, the
Cleveland Historical Society, and Cleveland State University.
Fueled by curiosity and a desire to connect to and honor their history, residents spent fall
2017 digging into the past through a meticulous architectural survey and recorded oral histories
of some of the neighborhood’s oldest and most notable residents.
To get the project started, the Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) produced a
comprehensive architectural guide documenting the wide range of housing styles
unique to the southern Moreland neighborhood. The guide provides important
historical context, noting that the neighborhood was originally part of the
Eastview Village before annexation by Shaker Heights in 1920. That is why it
is filled with housing types not widely seen elsewhere in Shaker Heights,
such as the American Foursquare, Bungalow, Cleveland Double, and
Cape Cod Revival. It also lays out the precise features of each type
and style of architecture, enabling residents to easily conduct the
After participating in CRS training, and with the guide
in hand, residents recorded detailed information directly
onto an electronic form. They logged in information
on each house, including materials used, window
types, chimney details, porch configurations,
and the building type and style. All of the recorded
information will be added to the Moreland History web
Creating a record of the physical structures is just one element
of documenting the history of the neighborhood. Residents wanted to
know about the people who have lived and raised families in these homes,
walked up and down these blocks, gathered on the front porches, and made
important contributions in their professions and to the community. It is the
people, after all, who bring a place to life, create the deep roots and connections,
and make it truly noteworthy. Toward that end, an oral history
component was launched.
In partnership with Cleveland State University, resident volunteers
developed questions and conducted interviews with selected neighbors. One of the
first interviewees, Walter Ratcliffe, shared his story of being among the first African-
American students at Moreland Elementary School. He recounted memories and stories of
what it was like to attend Moreland, and confront some of the painful realities of school
integration. He recalled, with warmth and laughter, stories of childhood acquaintances who
became lifelong friends, and painted a rich picture of a close-knit neighborhood.
“There was a camaraderie even when we left Moreland,” he says. The Moreland
History Project “is a great opportunity to tell the Moreland story. I want people
to know the Moreland I grew up in.”
CSU staff are digitizing and archiving the interviews and will make them
available throughout the spring on Cleveland Voices (clevelandvoices.org) and as part of the
Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection (engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/crohc).
Watch for short clips on the City’s Facebook page.
8 WINTER 2018 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE