Common Ground Host Stories: Neighbors Bring New Life to a Once-Vacant Corner in Cleveland Heights

Landscape view of Spirit Corner green space
Spirit Corner, a formerly vacant lot, is now a vibrant community green space in Cleveland Heights.

By Bob Brown, Common Ground Host, Spirit Corner  

Kudos to the small group of dedicated neighbors who have planted and maintained perennial flowers and flowering trees for the past several years at the site of a demolished house at the corner of Hampshire Rd. & Cadwell Ave. in the Coventry Village neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. 

Every spring, the little site becomes “pretty in purple,” as was the case this week. 

A group of people sit in circle in a community green space.

People gather for a Common Ground 2019 community conversation at Spirit Corner.

Even more importantly, the site has become a beloved neighborhood gathering place, where adults and children and dogs — and deer — hang out and enjoy the “common ground.”

Although enhancements to the place were “planned” by neighbors, the magic of the place is the serendipity that happens there — from young children inventing games among the site’s relocated tree stumps, people using the place as a reading garden, young couples finding space for “private” conversations, Lake Erie Ink participants visiting the site to write and then post short stories about the place, and even a group of Buddhist monks holding a ceremony at the site!

The site was named “Spirit Corner” in honor of the “spirits” who were thought to inhabit the house that stood vacant here for 55 years.

Several years ago, when I told one elderly, somewhat jaded neighbor that we planned to name the site “Spirit Corner,” she said, “Oh no. I’ve had enough of that ‘rah-rah’ spirit stuff.” When I told her that the reference was to the ghosts that were said to have inhabited the house, she reacted by saying, “Oh, that’s better!”

Bob Brown, together with neighbors in Cleveland Heights, hosted a #CommonGroundCLE gathering last year at Spirit Corner, a vibrant community-designed and community-maintained green space. You can learn more about Common Ground, an annual day of community conversation, here