James Ford Rhodes

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The Community
 
            One of the oldest of the Brooklyn township municipalities was Brighton Village which originally was laid out upon land from the farm of Warren Young.  In 1838, action was initiated to incorporate the village in the County of Cuyahoga.
 

            On February 16, 1839, the act incorporating the village was repealed by the Ohio General Assembly, and the community returned to the township organization.

           

           In 1889, the community of Brighton again was incorporated as a village, although this time under the name of South Brooklyn.  By 1905, agitation for annexation of the village by Cleveland reached the point where it was submitted to a popular vote at the regular election.  The result of the vote was 411 “Yea” votes as opposed to 198 “No” votes.  Despite this favorable majority vote, there was violent opposition in South Brooklyn to annexation.  Mayor Matthews and part of the council favored annexation, and were for carrying out the will of the voters as expressed at the polls.  Most of the councilmen were opposed to annexation; however, South Brooklyn did become part of the city of Cleveland in 1905.

            Brookside Park located in Old Brooklyn and home of the Rhodes baseball and softball team,  hosted what has been reported to be the largest baseball crowd in the history of Cleveland when the White Autos of Cleveland squared off against Omaha in the World Amateur Baseball Championship.  The game was played on October 10th, 1915, with a reported crowd of 115,000 people were sprawled along the northern part of the park cheering there team on to victory.   

Brookside Park: White Autos vs. Omaha

 

James Ford Rhodes – Historian
 

            In 1848, James Ford Rhodes was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Daniel Pomeroy Rhodes of Vermont and Sophia Lord Rhodes of Connecticut.  James entered a private school before he was five years old and then transitioned to a public school at age seven.  Rhodes had the good fortune of having a teacher who taught him to think and investigate in books other than the normal school textbooks.
 
            As a boy, Rhodes was a devout church goer, attending the oldest church in the city of Cleveland.  Frequently after returning from services he would go into his mother’s sitting room, collect a dozen chairs, arrange them in rows like church pews, and conduct imaginary church services.
 
            Politics fascinated Rhodes even early in his life.  When he was four years old he ran away from school to hear General Winfield Scott speak as a presidential candidate.  At the age of eight, Rhodes carried a torch-light in a Buchanan and Breckenridge procession.  His father, Daniel Rhodes, was a good friend of Stephen A. Douglas and consequently James took much interest in political talks and in Congressional Globes that were sent to his father.  In 1865, at the age of seventeen, Rhodes graduated from high school with a thirst for history and literature, but having neglected his classics and mathematics, he could not enter college as a regular student.
 
            In the fall of 1865, Rhodes entered the University of New York as a special student, where his taste for history increased.  He could not return to the University in the fall of 1866, but he went to the University of Chicago as a special student and took up the study of metaphysics,
 
            With his mother, father, and his roommate from Chicago, James went to Europe in the summer of 1867.  He wished to study journalism and literature while in Europe, but he yielded to his father’s wishes and took up the study of business.  James spent six months in Paris and then went to Berlin to study iron metallurgy.  Iron Metallurgy did not hold much interest for James, and he use to lay aside textbooks to read Goethe, Schiller, and Aurebach instead.
 
            In the spring of 1870, James’ father started him in a business, dealing with coal, iron ore, and pig iron.  Mr. Rhodes remained in the business for eleven years, achieving fair success in terms of money making.
 
            James Ford Rhodes married Ann Card on January 4, 1872.  The couple had a son, Daniel Pomeroy Rhodes on January 20, 1876.
            While reading Hildreth’s History of the United States in 1877, he began thinking of writing his own history of the United States.  On April 1, 1885, he retired from his business in order to start compiling material for his book.  A trip to Europe, however, intervened between his retirement and the actual start of the book.  Rhodes returned to Cleveland in 1887, and began reading for the introductory chapter of his history book.  Harper and Brothers of New York published the first two volumes in 1892.  The third followed three years later, and the fourth in 1899.  The year 1904 marked the publication of the fifth volume of the History of the United States, and in 1906, the seventh and last volume was published.
 
            Rhodes had the intention of writing a continuance of his history, but he never did so.  He went to Europe with his wife after the completion of the last volume to study European History.  Rhodes spent the remaining years of his life traveling and corresponding with friends.  The last summer of his life, that of 1926, he spent in Seal Harbor, Maine.  On January 22, 1927, after returning to Brookline, Massachusetts, he died.  Rhodes’ ashes were buried in Cleveland’s Riverside Cemetery.  In 1971, James Ford Rhodes was inducted into the Cleveland Hall of Fame.
 
James Ford Rhodes  


 

James Ford Rhodes High School

 

            The opening of James Ford Rhodes six-year high school at the beginning of the school term, February, 1932 marked a big step in South Brooklyn’s progress.  The first senior high school built in South Brooklyn was a modern adaptation of Italian Renaissance architecture.  The site for the new school was originally purchased on September 16th, 1920, with an additional purchase to the site made on November 25, 1935.  Both purchases were made from the Lutheran Cemetery.  The total cost of the purchases and construction of the school was $79,640.00.  After much consideration, it was recommended by the Cleveland Board of Education on June 23, 1930, that the school would be named James Ford Rhodes High School in honor of the Cleveland industrialist and historian.  Rhodes High is located approximately seven miles southwest of downtown Cleveland in the area known as Old South Brooklyn.

 

            The first faculty members at James Ford Rhodes High School were experienced teachers who were transferred from Lincoln, Glenville, West Technical, Brooklyn Heights, Thomas Edison, john Marshall, East, and Brownell High Schools as well as from Patrick Henry, Nathan Hale, Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and Audubon Junior High Schools.  Teachers were also transferred from Dawning William Rainey, Harper, Benjamin Franklin, and Harvard Elementary Schools.  The first principal of James Ford Rhodes was Neil C. Matthews, who actually served twice as principal of the school.  In 1979 Rhodes had its first female principal in Frances Nugent.  Ms. Nugent was not just the first female principal at Rhodes, but the first female principal of any senior high in the Cleveland Public School System.

 

            Rhodes High School first opened with a student population of 1,466.  For the first year, Rhodes was a combination junior and senior high school, but on February 1, 1933, it was changed to a four year senior high school.  The seventh and eighth graders were moved to Benjamin Franklin and William Rainey Harper Elementary Schools.  It was also in 1933 that grass and trees were planted, and the outside flanks of the school were leveled, graded, graveled, and turned into a playground.

 

            The football and athletic field, with a cylinder running track surrounding it was dedicated in September, 1933.  The first football game held at the new Rhodes Field was played on September 23, 1933, with an audience of 4,000 spectators.  The Rhodes Rams (so named after the nationally famous Cleveland Rams football team) were playing against the Lincoln High Presidents.  Unfortunately, Rhodes lost by a score of 7 to 3.

 

            In the spring of 1936, the auditorium was started as a result of the Federal Works Progress Administration, which was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program.  The auditorium was completed in January 1937, and it was dedicated to the memory of former principal, Albert G. Eldredge.  At that time, three new rooms were also added to the original building giving the school a total of forty-six rooms.

 

            Jesse Owens liked to work-out on the Rhodes track, and after winning the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, he was presented three oak trees by the German government under Adolf Hitler.  During a football game in 1936, Jesse Owens dedicated one of the trees from the Black Forest of Germany to Rhodes High School.  The tree still stands in the courtyard in back of the south football stands.

 

            One of the most gratifying projects at Rhodes was the underground track.  In 1936, this area was filled with dirt with only a crawl space between the ceiling and the ground.  In 1936, 1937, and 1938, the track team and other volunteers, many of them paid thirty cents an hour by the Youth Administration of the Federal Government, started to dig the dirt out of the basement.  E.J. Holden, the track coach, spent many Saturdays working to build this track.  Another person who supported this project and saw it through to completion was the assistant principal, Mr. William Bryan.  Mr. Bryan had boys take two wheelbarrows of dirt out for every detention they received.  In 1938, the Works Progress Administration of the “New Deal” came in and did the cement work.  The track was opened for the first underground track meet in 1939.

 

            Another addition to the original building was made in 1947, when the Girls’ Gym was constructed.  It was opened on January 5, 1948, for the girls’ physical education classes.

 

            In 1964, the ninth grade was moved to Charles A. Mooney Junior High, and Rhodes became a three year high school.  Between 1965 and 1967, the school was remodeled.  This remodeling was seen in the various offices and the exterior entrances, as well as in the classrooms.  The remodeling included the installation of three boilers, a meter house, an incinerator, lockers, office counters and files, blackboards and tackboards, steel shelving, modernized lighting and electrical work.

 

            With enrollment increasing in the sixties, a new gymnasium was constructed in 1971, at the west end of the building.  The gymnasium addition included a faculty parking lot underneath.  The old gymnasium became three classrooms: an auto shop, electricity shop, and a business machines laboratory. 

 

            In February, 1973, the new Media Center was completed and dedicated to J.J. Stillinger, a former principal.  The old library was made into two classrooms and an office complex.  In 1975 cement bleachers and locker rooms were added to the south side of Rhodes Field and two tennis courts were installed.

Rhodes High  
 

Rhodes High Alma Mater 

 
Dear old Rhodes High
They wisdom lights our path,
Thy friendships true, stay with us to the last.
We stand united in our purpose true
Loyal and faithful
To the white and blue 
 
 

 Rhodes High School Colors

 
Royal Blue and White
 
 

Rhodes High Mascot 

 
Rams
 
Ramy  
 

Rhodes High Newspaper 

 
The Rhodes Review
 

Rhodes High Yearbook

 
Aries (Zodiac sign of the Ram) 
 
 
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