Our Day in the Sun
You can tell its spring in Northeast Ohio when the human population starts shedding their winter coats and roaming about without hats. Yesterday’s sunshine made the 34 degree weather seem balmy. It did, however, occur to me that 34 degree weather in July would send us all scrambling for those same winter coats and hats. But after weeks of frigid air the relatively high temperatures and sunshine were a balm to our spirits.
Nature Education Building, North Chagrin Reservation
The sunshine also had me thinking about the story of the Nature Education Building at North Chagrin Reservation. This building began life as a demo house at the 1976 Home and Flower Show. It was built to show the possibilities of using solar energy to heat and cool buildings. After its debut at the Home and Flower Show at the Cleveland Convention Center the building was cut into pieces and transported by a caravan of trailer trucks to its permanent home at North Chagrin Reservation. The home was installed near Sunset Pond, which seems to me to be a slightly ironic spot for a solar building ( I love word play.)
Cleveland Press, 15 April 1976
Designed by architect Neil Guda, the house was a gift to Cleveland Metroparks, but the parks covered the cost of excavating, building a foundation and installing wiring and plumbing. Guda design was intended to show how the interior of the house could be modified for solar energy.
Cleveland Plain Dealer 22 January 1976
During the energy crisis of the 1970s alternative energy was a hot topic. The new Solar Environmental Interpretive Center at North Chagrin was opened to the public in October of 1976 as a way to demonstrate the potentials of solar energy and to encourage the reduction of the use of fossil fuels. There was also talk of installing a windmill near the site to harness wind power, though that plan never solidified. The initial enthusiasm for solar and wind energy has abated somewhat, as we realize that there is no one perfect solution to our energy needs. The original solar building is no longer used as it was first intended, but still provides a spot for children and adults to learn about nature and the ways in which we engage with and care for our environment.
Check out a cool video about the Nature Education Building with Naturalist Traci Williams at: