Ukrainian Garden

Located along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and opposite the Greek Garden, the Ukrainian Garden was inaugurated in 1940. The garden is composed of a series of brick and stone courts connected by paved walks. The South Court of this formal place is accessed by a stone and iron gateway with two bronze plaques and portrait reliefs sculpted by Frank L. Jirouch. The portraits represent Bohdan Khmelnytsky, leader of a revolt against the Poles in 1614 (1593-1657), and Mykhailo Serhiyovych Hrushevsky, an historian, teacher and author (1866-1934). There is also a statue of poet Larysa Petrivna Kosach-Kvitka (Lesya Ukrainka) in the garden, as well as three bronze busts that celebrate significant nationalist leaders in Ukraine history: poet and writer Ivan Franko (1856-1916); Grand Prince of Kiev Volodymyr the Great (c. 956-1015); and Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko, a poet, teacher and artist (1814-1861).

The three major busts were the work of Kiev-born Alexander Archipenko who immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. Archipenko was a part of the cubist movement. His work departed from classical sculptural design, using negative space in creative ways. The busts disappeared from the garden In the 1970s, making many believe that they had been destroyed or stolen. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the missing busts were found in a Cleveland municipal garage where they had been placed for safekeeping. Since then, fiberglass copies of the busts have been made for the Garden whereas the originals have found a new home in the Ukrainian Museum & Archives in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.

The first Ukrainians arrived in the Cleveland area in the mid-1880s and settled in the Tremont area. Early numbers are difficult to determine because they were counted as being part of the ethnic groups that at one time or another occupied what is now Ukraine. A hundred years later, in 1986, the Ukrainian community of Greater Cleveland was centered in Parma and numbered over 35,000. A strong Ukrainian presence remains in the Parma area in 2012. Cultural education is still a focal point of community life with ‘Saturday Schools’ (Ridna Shkola) teaching language, history, geography and culture. This schooling is accredited by the Parma Board of Education.

Large Ukrainian collections exist in the local and university libraries through the contributions of Ukrainian professors. The Ukrainian Museum & Archive, Inc., located on Kenilworth Avenue in Tremont, was organized in 1952. It has attracted scholars from all over the world. Other organizations have been dedicated to preserving Ukrainian culture through summer camps, dance ensembles, choirs, percussion bands, mandolin ensembles, private orchestras, soccer teams, and skiing clubs.