Garden of 11 Angels Memorial Funding Fully Secured

Former site of Mt. Pleasant murders will become a community garden and memorial for 11 victims

Artist rendering of Garden of 11 Angels, set to open in fall 2021

The final piece of funding needed to transform the site of 11 grisly murders in Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood into a community garden and memorial is finally in place thanks to fundraising efforts by Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Burton, Bell, and Carr Development, Inc., and LAND studio. The project was recently awarded $146,958 in funding from Ohio’s Clean Ohio fund, which restores, protects, and connects Ohio’s important natural and urban places by preserving green space and farmland, improving outdoor recreation, and cleaning up brownfields to encourage redevelopment and revitalize communities.

“For more than a decade, the tragedy of these 11 women who were forgotten by society and brutally murdered in a decrepit house on Imperial Avenue has been a scar on this community,” said Isaac Robb, vice president of planning and urban projects at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “We hope that the Garden of 11 Angels will be part of the healing this community needs and deserves.”

The home where the women’s bodies were found was demolished in 2011. In 2016, at the request of project partners including the Mount Pleasant Ministerial Alliance, Western Reserve Land Conservancy stepped in to help establish the memorial by facilitating site acquisition of the two vacant parcels adjacent to that on which the killer’s house once stood, in close partnership with the families of the victims and the local community. A team of volunteers including Good Nature Lawn Service, clergy, community residents and Western Reserve Land Conservancy staff planted grass and trees as a part of Phase One of the memorial design.

“This memorial will turn tragedy into triumph and serve as an important anchor for the entire community,” said Joy Johnson, executive director at Burton, Bell, and Carr Development, Inc. “Now that the final piece of funding is in place, what has been a dream for so many of us for so long is finally becoming a reality.”

The Garden of Eleven Angels is a much needed investment in a community that has experienced tremendous tragedy both acutely in the form of the horrific murders that occurred on the site, and more broadly in the systematic disinvestment and gradual depopulation of the neighborhood – a low-income neighborhood with a majority Black population. The project seeks to uplift and bring hope to the community by transforming these eight vacant parcels into a memorial to bring closure and healing, restoring the site to a beautiful and ecologically thriving natural area that will provide the surrounding community with a space to gather, recreate, reflect, and enjoy nature.

“The Garden of 11 Angels will be a tribute to the eleven women whose lives were taken away from them,” said Rev. Jimmy Gates of Zion Hill Baptist Church. “It will be a testament to our community’s strength in the face of adversity. The Garden represents much more than trees and flowers. It represents hope for a better, brighter future.”

Since 2016, five adjacent parcels have had their blighted residential structures demolished as well. In 2019, landscape architect David Wilson of LAND Studio – a Cleveland-based nonprofit that creates places and connects people through public art, sustainable building and design, collaborative planning and dynamic programming – reconfigured the original design to complement the eight total parcels that now serve as the backdrop of the memorial.

“This project has been years in the making, and to see that we’re fully funded and nearing the finish line is great news,” said David Wilson, project manager with LAND Studio. “Many partners have come together to make this memorial garden a reality. It will be a tremendous addition to the neighborhood and we are proud to have played a part in it.”

Western Reserve Land Conservancy will oversee the construction of the planned park improvements. Burten, Bell, Carr’s Neighborhood Landscaping Enterprise, which hires and trains neighborhood residents to provide landscaping maintenance services for properties within their service area, will be responsible for the long term maintenance of the Garden of 11 Angels.

Construction on the property will begin soon, and all partners involved hope to officially open the Garden in fall 2021.

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