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  R u s i n   C u l t u r a l   G a r d e n

    The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are a chain of twenty-three gardens, which wind their way through Rockefeller Park.  Each individual garden represents an ethnic group that makes up the city’s population. They were originally built to recognize the contributions of the various ethnic cultures to society.  These gardens are unique in the world.  Each nationality raised money for their respective garden, built the garden and presented it to the City of Cleveland.

    The Gardens began began on 14 April 1916 when the community leaders from around the city joined together to plant a garden.  The first was the Shakespeare Garden in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.  It would not be until 1926 when garden would take on its identity. The idea for a series of cultural gardens was at that time formulated by Leo Weidenthal.

    Plans for the Rusin Garden were drawn up and approved in 1938. Chief supporter of the Rusin Garden movement was the Rusin Elite Society, with the Reverend Joseph P. Hanulya as president.

    On June 25, 1939, the Rusin Garden plot was dedicated and became the thirteenth garden in the ensemble.  The Garden is comprised of an upper and lower space.  Upper tier of the garden is entered off of East Boulevard near Superior Avenue.  Consists of an unadorned sandstone plaza bordered by low hedges.  A narrow stone stairway winds from the upper terrace down a steep slope to a wooded glen that shelters a large sandstone terrace overlooking Doan Brook.  This plaza is capped by an elevated semicircular stage on which sits Duchnovich’s plinth.  Unfortunately, the plinth remains empty since the bust of Alexander Duchnovich was stolen.

    On May 29, 1952, a bust of Father Alexander Basil Duchnovich was unveiled in the Rusin Garden by Father Joseph Hanulya.  The bust was the creation of sculptor Frank Jirouch.  On its pedestal are inscribed the words, “Ja Rusyn byl, jesm’ y budu,”  “I was, am, and always will be Rusyn” — written by Father Duchnovich when a political prisoner, as a reply to the court which offered him freedom if he would renounce his Rusyn tendencies.  These words later became the nucleus of the Rusyn National Anthem.

    Father Duchnovich, Rusyn priest, patriot, poet, educator, and author of the Rusyn national anthem, lived from 1803 to 1865. He is honored as the chief force in elevating the cultural standards of the Rusyn people. Also distinguished as dramatist, historian, scholar, legislator, humorist, and philosopher, this priest in the Greek Catholic church consecrated his life to the enlightenment of his people, largely through writing and publishing books in the Rusyn language. He carried on his dauntless struggle for universal education and a rebirth of the national spirit during a period of the darkest political, economic, and even moral eclipse. In addition to the National Anthem, he is famous for the Rusyn national march, several primers for children, volumes of poems, plays and history, and — one of the most cherished treasures of the Rusyn people — a prayer-book, "The Bread of the Soul" (Chl'ib Dusi).

    Today, the Rusin Garden is maintained by representatives of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. If you wish to help in the Rusin Garden, contact John Krenisky <>.

    Lederer, Clara.  Their paths are peace: the story of Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens. Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation, Cleveland, OH.   1954.

    Tittle, Diana.  A Walk in the Park: Greater Cleveland’s New and Reclaimed Green Spaces. (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press: ) p. 90 – 97.