Monday, December 24, 2012


On my recent trip down the memory lane of home, I learned some history of a familiar place.

In 1925, the city administration of Cleveland Heights recognized the need to increase the number of personnel in the local fire department. Six firemen were added to the department in 1925, and four firemen were added in 1926, bringing the personnel to one chief, one assistant chief, one captain, one lieutenant, and twenty-one firemen.

In March of 1928, the city contracted for a new fire station to be built on the northeast corner of Monticello Blvd and Noble Road. It was designed in the English Tudor revival style. The basement for the new structure had to be blasted out of solid rock. Fire Station No. 2, located at 2595 Noble Road (seen here), was dedicated and opened with one 1000 gpm American La France combination chemical pumper and hose apparatus. Six new firemen were also hired at that time.

For over fifty years the building housed firefighters and increasingly sophisticated engines until the reorganization of the Cleveland Heights Fire Department in 1982. The building was then closed.

In 1990, the building was reopened as a Class A Police Academy. Three complete courses are offered each year, each one involving 380 hours of classroom training by Cleveland Heights police in cooperation with the Cuyahoga Community College. The Academy now has a national reputation.

To prepare the building for the school, instead of a fire house, members of the police department undertook an extensive restoration program, doing most of the work themselves except for the new boiler and roof. With the original architectural plans in hand, they worked to the 1928 specification, plastering ceilings, rather than using drywall.

The living room was restored to the original look with a beamed ceiling, chandelier, and working fireplace. One of the classrooms was originally a garage for fire engines.

On February 16, 1959, Martin G. Lentz was hired as a police officer in Cleveland Heights. He had a 51 year career with the police department, 36 years as the city's police chief. On December 2, 2010, Lentz retired as a revered and distinguished officer. At his retirement celebration at City Hall, it was announced that the Cleveland Heights Police Academy was being renamed the Martin G. Lentz Police Academy. The new name can be seen on the sign above the old fire engine doors (in the picture above).

Thus, the fire department that I knew from my school days in 1959, became a police academy in 1990. Things sure do change as time marches on.

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