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Book talk: Guides to landmark buildings

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Cleveland in the Gilded Age, A Stroll Down Millionaires' Row by Dan Ruminski and Alan Dutka.

Author celebrates works
of Akron church architect

You might not know the name William P. Ginther, but you probably know his work: Ginther designed some of the most prominent churches in Ohio, including Akron’s Annunciation and St. Bernard Catholic churches, St. Paul’s in Canton and the former SS. Cyril and Methodius in Barberton.

In Dedication: The Work of William P. Ginther, Ecclesiastical Architect, Anthony J. Valleriano depicts both the geographic range of the Akron-born Ginther’s work — he found commissions as far away as Oxnard, Calif. — and its diversity in style, from the rural red brick in the now-closed 1906 St. Philip Neri Church in Murray City to Pittsburgh’s opulent 1905 Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Ginther, who lived from 1858 to 1933, studied architecture at Buchtel College (now the University of Akron), and also designed other buildings like parochial schools and hospitals (Canton’s original Mercy Hospital).

The book is picture-heavy, with annotations consisting only of names, cities and dates. Dedication (212 pages, hardcover) costs $39 from Kent State University Press. Anthony J. Valleriano is a graphic design manager at Case Western Reserve University.

Sacred landmarks of Cleveland

Churches are built to stand for many years, but even when they do, things change. They are sold to different congregations, or decommissioned and turned into commercial enterprises. Some burn down or are demolished.

Much has happened in the 20 years since the first edition of A Guide to Cleveland’s Sacred Landmarks, and Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., in a new update, profiles more than 150 churches, synagogues and other sites.

Dividing the landmarks into 15 driving tours, Ellis lists each with its year of construction, architect and builder if known, and tells why the building is important both historically and architecturally. He praises the richness of the many ethnic parishes, like St. Stephen on West 54th Street, “generally acknowledged to be the most beautifully decorated church in Cleveland” and the onion-domed St. Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral, where scenes from The Deer Hunter were filmed. Some churches have been built since the last edition; Euclid Avenue Congregational Church is included, despite having burned down after the manuscript was completed.

Lloyd H. Ellis Jr., a retired physician, later earned a Ph.D. in art history. The photos are by Eva M. Ellis, the author’s wife. A Guide to Cleveland’s Sacred Landmarks (434 pages, softcover), costs $45 from Kent State University Press.

It is fascinating for anyone interested in architecture, local history or religion.

Stroll down Millionaires’ Row

Around 1885, half of all the world’s millionaires lived in Cleveland. Many of those millionaires built mansions on Euclid Avenue, and in their new book Cleveland in the Gilded Age: A Stroll Down Millionaires’ Row, Dan Ruminski and Alan Dutka tell of the men who lived on what Mark Twain once called “one of the finest streets in America” and what happened to their homes.

In all, there were more than 300 such homes between Public Square and East 105th Street, of various styles and sizes; the authors note that John D. Rockefeller, the richest of them all, built a less ostentatious home on the less fashionable south side of Euclid, while his rival Samuel Andrews came up with a 100-room white elephant in which he lived for about three years.

While it’s intriguing to learn about these huge symbols of prosperity, and saddening to learn of their fates (all but a handful were demolished decades ago, now vacant lots and sites of fast-food restaurants), the authors’ gift is in the characters — about how Rockefeller took golf lessons to impress his wife; how Laura Mae Corrigan sold her emeralds to Herman Goering so she could afford to aid French war refugees; how Jeptha Wade paid off a neighboring church to stop ringing its annoying bells.

Cleveland in the Gilded Age (158 pages, softcover) costs $19.99 from History Press. Dan Ruminski speaks about Cleveland history; his blog is at Alan Dutka wrote East Fourth Street: The Rise, Decline, and Rebirth of an Urban Cleveland Street.


Cuyahoga County Public Library (Beachwood branch, 25501 Shaker Blvd.) — Sam Thomas signs his historical mystery The Midwife’s Tale, set during the English Civil War, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Sam Thomas signs The Midwife’s Tale, 1 p.m. Saturday.

Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Jacqueline Marino, author (with photojournalist Tim Harrison) of White Coats: Three Journeys through an American Medical School, reads from and signs her book, 7 p.m. Saturday; award-winning poet Sarah M. Wells (Acquiesce) reads from her work, 8 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.