History Cleveland History Center

Hanna Library


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Cleveland History Center serves as the headquarters for the Western Reserve Historical Society. Today, the CHC covers nearly 9 acres comprised of Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, Grand Carousel, Research Library, Chisholm Halle Costume Wing, two historic mansions and multiple galleries. All are connected to create a unified guest experience.


Hay House entrance

Founded in May 1867, Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) initially existed as a branch of the Cleveland Library Association. As collections and programming expanded, WRHS moved from its first location, the Society for Savings Bank (known today as Key Bank Tower) on Public Square to a new, custom building at the corner of East 107th and Euclid Avenue. 



Expanding collections and need for space led WRHS to acquire the Hay-McKinney Mansion on East Boulevard in 1938 and the adjacent Bingham-Hanna Mansion a short time after.


Origina lcentral entrance

By the mid-1950s the institution had outgrown its primary structures at East Boulevard. In 1959 it opened a series of additions. These consisted of central exhibit galleries that connected the the two mansions.


Jordon swim

Less than a decade later the property expanded again with the opening of the Frederick C. Crawford Auto Aviation Museum in 1965. The museum housed the collection of automobiles and aircraft that Cleveland industrialist and Thompson Products (later TRW) president, Frederick C. Crawford had begun accumulating in 1937. In 1943 it opened to the public as the Thompson Products Auto Album and Aviation Museum located at East 30th Street and Chester. Crawford, who had served as a trustee of the Historical Society since 1944, engineered the transfer of the collection to WRHS in order to assure its continued growth and preservation. 


Library interior entrance

By the beginning of the 1980s nearly 60 tons of library materials (mostly archival) were stored off-site in less than ideal conditions. Portions of the museum’s holdings were stored off-site in two houses on Magnolia. Once again East Boulevard grew. A new, modern 68,000 square-foot library opened to the public in 1984. The space formerly occupied by the library collections, offices and staff was reimagined for museum collections and exhibitions. 


Early image of library building at CHC

Initially the new library building stood separate from the main East Boulevard facility. In 1993, that separation ended with the construction of the Reinberger Gallery. The concurrent construction of the Thomas Lester Annex at the back of the lower level of the Crawford Museum provided both additional storage and display space for automobiles and general museum collections.


View of upper crawford with guests

Given that the new gets old or older, the upper level of the Crawford Museum was totally renovated and reopened in January 2013 with modern lighting, new flooring, new exhibits and modern meeting and educational spaces. It also contained a brand new area – a pavilion that would house the Euclid Beach Carousel. The restored carousel was installed the following year and opened to the public in November 2014. 

Together all of these structures comprise what is known today as the Cleveland History Center which serves as a museum for all and as headquarters for the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Western Reserve Historical Society is the oldest cultural institution in Northeast Ohio, the region's largest American history research center, and one of the leading genealogical research centers in the nation.

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Cleveland History Center
10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106 ↗

(216) 721-5722

Thursday: 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm