Concentrates of Place-2022
South Chagrin Reservation is part of the Emerald Necklace that makes up the Cleveland Metropolitan Parks. It is one of the outlying reservations that is part of the greater Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The reservation is in Bentleyville, Solon and Moreland Hills, Ohio. See a map of the South Chagrin Reservation online (https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/getmedia/9165db51-a892-4007-bb97-e5a64e0f66a3/SouthChagrinMap2017.pdf.ashx?ext=.pdf)/.
Central address: Hawthorn Pkwy, Bentleyville, OH 44022, USA
Latitude: 41° 25′ 6.654” N
Longitude: 81° 25′ 30.5436” W
The area features an arboretum, polo field, Look About Lodge for educational programming, trails, picnic areas and a river.
South Chagrin Reservation serves as a recreational area for surrounding communities. There are picnic tables, charcoal grills, swing sets and a restroom near the parking area located off Hawthorn Pkwy. Hiking trails lead out from the park area. There are also bridle trails for horseback riding. Adjoining the trails are staircases down to waterfalls and Henry Church’s Rock sculpture. On a summer weekend, you’ll find people walking their dogs and swimming in the water beneath the double falls. One stair leads to the rock sculpture that Henry Church Jr. created in 1885. The sculpture depicts a young, indigenous American woman laying on her side, surrounded by a serpent. Henry Church titled the work, “The rape of the American Indian by the white man.” Below is an interactive learning object showing how the sculpture looks today vs. when it was originally created.
Click the hotspots in the image below to learn more about the symbolism and historical relevance of the images within the sculpture.
For the Concentrates of Place assignment, I collected small objects from South Chagrin Reservation. My tin holds three small hemlock pine cones and two red oak acorns, seeds of the trees at the location. I also have a small branch of a hemlock tree and representation of the Berea sandstone and chert from the area. The Berea sandstone has weathered to create the rock cliffs that overhang the edges of the Chagrin River banks. Chert, the shinier stone, was used by indigenous Americans to create arrow heads. Tens of thousands of indigenous Americans traversed the area and used it as hunting grounds, for many years before settlers came to the region.
See and example of an arrowhead from South Chagrin Reservation.
See an example of 10,000 year old archeological evidence of an indigenous woman’s lower jaw and upper arm bone that were located in the South Chagrin Reservation (note: I don’t know if the remains were returned to her nation or descendants of her nation).
The native plants and Chagrin River create a natural escape for people living in the area.
My Sense of Place about South Chagrin Reservation:
It was one of the locations my husband and I went to when dating. We hiked and took photographs. It’s also located close to what is our current home and what was formerly his parent’s home when we were dating. A personal memory of the trip was seeing another photographer drop one of his lenses onto the rock and into the river water, when we were climbing rock with a small waterfall. We felt his pain at the loss of the lens.
As an artist who has sculpted, painted, and produced photos and digital prints, I can appreciate Henry Church Jr.’s work and what it represented to him. The rock sculpture has weathered and has been vandalized since he finished it in 1885. His family has recently raised awareness about restoring the sculpture. See the article titled, “Saving Henry Church Rock” on the Chagrin Falls Historical Society & Museum’s website.
What the place may mean to others:
Families or groups may think of it as a place to meet and catch up on the lives of friends and relatives. Families can bring and grill food there. They might enjoy swimming in the shallow waterfalls if it is a hot summer day. Some people walk their dogs along the river and allow them to swim in the water too. Others might use the trails for hiking or horse back riding.
Some people might attend educational programming at the Look About Lodge. Others might play polo on the northern polo field. In the winter, families can go sledding at Miles Rd sledding hill, or ice fish.
A few descendants of Henry Church Jr. would like to see the rock sculpture stabilized and restored. They would also like to replace a garage in the area with a barn that contains a blacksmith’s shop. It would contain photographs from the past and serve as an educational area. They formed a committee and consulted with the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA) to complete an assessment of the sculpture and to make recommendations. Henry Church’s family has a deep historical connection to the land and sculpture.
For a long time, the sign for Henry Church Jr.’s Rock bore the words “Squaw Rock.” The “s” word, as it has come to be known, is offensive to indigenous American women. The sign has recently been updated to remove the “s” word. The land originally belonged to indigenous Americans. They were pushed west and onto other reservations as white settlers took over. People who are the descendants of those who were indigenous to the area may consider the land more sacred than the average visitor looking for a weekend get away. They also might feel a sense of loss because the land now belongs to Cleveland Metroparks.