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Memories, photographs, and artifacts offer a glimpse of life at the former Wade Park Manor for the centurion milestone of Judson Manor’s grand building.
When the luxury residential hotel Wade Park Manor debuted in 1923, the Georgian Revival-style destination offered long-term suites and a first-floor exclusive gathering place the public could access. Over the years, the hotel has hosted well-known guests, including Walt Disney and former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1983, Judson Senior Living acquired Wade Park Manor from the Christian Residences Foundation. As the first senior community owner, they continued a legacy of delivering amenities, culture, and engaging events—with the robust addition of care for older adults.
Judson Manor staged a series of milestone celebrations this year, a nod to the past and present.
One hundred years and many more memories are ingrained within the gracious building’s walls. To commemorate this, Judson Manor launched a time capsule project. Anastasia Nova, Community Life Director, organized the time capsule project, preparing materials, along with support from committee members Bill Leatherberry, Joe Coyle, Peter Pesch, and Becky Zuti.
Leatherberry says, “We attempted to provide insights about the building and its history and about us and the cultural and political context in which we live in 2023.” This project directly reflects why Nova joined the Judson Manor community as Community Life Director in March 2023. “We have a vibrant body of residents with experiences from all over the world, and it’s an honor to get to know them and to be able to enrich their lives in their later years,” she says. Her favorite part was interviewing residents to gather memories, musings, and insights from their lives and times at Judson.
“When asking, ‘What do you want to share with people who will read this 100 years from now?’ it’s such an overwhelming question,” she relates. Some shared a glimpse into their pasts; others offered knowledge about the building and its evolution. “Our resident, Robert Brooks, joined the French club here when he was a young boy, and now he lives here, so I love that connection and how much the building and Cleveland has changed with the times.”
A year in review, it kicked off on the building’s centurion anniversary date, January 4, 2023. Then, in July, Judson Manor staged a flashback celebration, including a 1920s fashion show of garments provided by Cleveland Play House that were displayed on mannequins. Swooning to twenties jazz, residents gathered, dined, and danced. Finally, this fall, the manor hosted its time capsule reveal containing statements, photographs, and artifacts.
Some reflections include those of Jeanelle Hunter, who began working at the manor in 1987, shortly after it was established at this location. “Some of the parts of the building changed so much, I can’t believe it,” she relates. “The Wade Park Grill looked like the interior of a ship with a big wooden wheel and all.”
Hunter is from the South. “I don’t have family here,” she says. “The residents are like my grandparents.”
When Christian Residence Foundation owned the building, Cheryl Smith joined the Wade Park Manor staff in 1976. She was a co-cook and member of the wait staff. She transitioned when Judson assumed ownership while going to night school to become a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). “My fondest memory was the big Christmas parties,” she says. “They were absolutely beautiful. There were tables lined up and down the lobby with grand ice sculptures in the middle.”
Robert Brooks, born in 1927, shared Judson Manor’s historical ties to La Maison Francaise de Cleveland, which held regular meetings at the manor’s Lincoln Dining Room. “As a high school student, I attended those meetings,” he relates. He lived close to the manor in a building with many members of the Cleveland Orchestra. “I still dutifully join our weekly French Speakers’ Conversations group meetings.”
Josephine Steinhurst was born in 1923 when the building opened. She taught at Harvard University without a diploma. “I hope that people realize that who they are, without the diplomas, might help them reach their goals,” she states. She took up Japanese art during retirement, learning Asian brush painting. Jo is 100 years old and has sold hundreds of artworks nationwide. “Judson has been a very fulfilling place to live,” she says. “One thing that I enjoy is people with different backgrounds. You always learn from your neighbors if you are open to it.”
History Encapsulated, On Display
“We’re not burying it,” Nova says of the time capsule that will be showcased in a glass case—a destination in the manor’s gallery. The stainless-steel cylinder, about 2 feet long and 4 inches in diameter, resembles a rounded pipe. It was sealed during a ceremony while community members read essays and gathered to share memories.
“We would love for the capsule to remain with the manor as part of the building,” Nova says. “And if in the future the manor is no longer here, then the time capsule should be opened early and preserved.”
If required, the capsule would be moved to the Western Reserve Historical Society, per an arrangement with the museum. Its contents tell the story of Wade Park Manor and its evolution from the times of Rockefeller to the modern day.
What transformations will the historic manor undergo in the next 100 years? Who can be sure?
Leatherberry stated in his introduction at the time capsule event, “One of the celebrated quotations attributed to Yogi Berra is, ‘It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.’ He was right.”