The Sacred Landmarks Collection
The Center for Sacred Landmarks was a research and public service center within the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University. Founded as the Sacred Landmarks Research Group in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1986 and later renamed the Sacred Landmarks Initiative, this research and service entity moved to the Levin College in 1995, becoming the Center for Sacred Landmarks. Professor Michael J. Tevesz founded the organization and served as its Director throughout its approximately 25 year history.
The Center provided information about Cleveland's and northeast Ohio's religious structures and organizations and their past and present roles in strengthening and maintaining communities within this region. The Center's four primary activities were researching and documenting the architectural and aesthetic features of religious structures; providing guidance or referrals to religious institutions that wished to preserve their archival materials and artworks, especially their stained glass windows; researching and documenting the human and social services engaged in by religious institutions; and researching and documenting the role that various religious institutions and their members played in the history of the northeast Ohio region.
The rationale for work of the Center and its predecessors is that religious institutions are repositories of invaluable historical information about the life of the community they serve. Unfortunately, many religious structures are at risk due to a combination of age and inadequate or deferred maintenance that has caused some to deteriorate. Records may be poorly maintained, or even destroyed by those unaware of their significance. In addition, changing demographic patterns may leave and institution with a congregation whose resources are not sufficient to maintain the building and/or its programs.
The members of the Center for Sacred Landmarks hoped that their research helped to provide a written and visual record for those structures that cannot be saved, and a foundation of information for those that can. The Center produced publications to provide a vehicle for the dissemination of information highlighting the diversity and significance of many religious communities in the northeast region, and beyond. This information was also disseminated to the general public and students through several gallery exhibitions, tours, lecture presentations, and specially designed for-credit undergraduate and graduate courses.