The Hungarian Cultural Garden is constructed on two levels along the upper boulevard, and overlooks lower East Boulevard. Designed by a well-known architect of Budapest, Hungary, it is a distinguished garden from the standpoint of compact, opulent, and formal landscape style. The entrance is through a delicately patterned wrought-iron gateway, the gift of the Verhovay Insurance Association. It is like the traditional type of archway leading to country estates in Hungary and is decorated with two small delightful peasant figures in bronze. In the principal plot on the upper level, a rectangular reflecting pool and fountain are set in a pattern of low walls and geometric walks of brick, stone, and marble, and rich plantings of the growths best known in Hungary--hawthorn, yew, cotoneasters, and azaleas. Two linden trees, formal flower beds, and brick, stone, and marble walls and walks are the features of the lower garden. Two wing sections, formal arrangements of lawn, brick paths, and sculptured stone benches, adjoin the larger upper garden. In the section to the left of the entrance is a bas-relief of Franz Liszt.
For the promotion of the Hungarian Cultural Garden project, a Cultural Garden Committee of the United Hungarian Societies of Cleveland had been formed with Louis Petrash as president and Nicholas F. Molnar as secretary. On September 24, 1934, the commission gave public notice of its initial venture in a statement opening as follows:
"The establishment of the Hungarian Cultural Garden is actively under way. A meeting will be held, Thursday evening, Oct. 4, 1934, at 8 o'clock at the Hollenden Hotel Lounge, for the purpose of completing and enlarging the sponsor committee, together with making proper arrangements for the celebration of Liszt Week, commencing October 15, 1934, with the dedication exercises to be held, Sunday, October 21, 1934."
The United Societies then named a permanent commission consisting of Municipal Judge Louis Petrash, chairman Nicholas F. Molnar, secretary Attorney Stephen Kormendy, treasurer Stephen Gobozy, George M. Kovachy, Albert Tudja and Emery Hoffer.
The site of the Hungarian Garden was dedicated on October 21, 1934, upon the occasion of the 123rd anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt, with the unveiling of the bas-relief of the Hungarian composer.
In honoring Liszt, the Hungarian Cultural Garden leaders chose, at the outset, an Hungarian, whose name was destined to tower high in the history of music, as composer and as pianist.
Son of Adam Liszt, the boy Liszt appeared in public at the age of nine with great success. His first appearance in concert in Vienna, was on December 1, 1822. Liszt appeared in London in his early youth and later became an outstanding figure in the great art and cultural center of Weimar. In 1859, he transferred his center of activity to Rome. His last appearance upon a concert of the Musical Society of Luxembourg. His death occurred on July 31 of that year.
The Liszt plaque is the Hungarian Cultural Garden is the work of John Tenkacs, Cleveland sculptor. Speakers at the dedication included: Dr. Louis Alexy, Hungarian Consul Joseph Remenyi, Mayor Harry L. Davis former City Manager William R. Hopkins and Charles J. Wolfram, president of the Cultural Garden League.
The program was opened by Louis Petrash, chairman of the Cultural Garden Committee. Nicholas F. Molnar, secretary of the committee and secretary of the City Plan Commission of Cleveland, was master of ceremonies. Assistant Police Prosecutor Stephen Gobozy, president of the United Hungarian Societies delivered the welcoming address.
An ode to Liszt by Dr. Ladislaus Polya was recited by the author and a Liszt Rhapsody was played by the string ensemble of the Liszt Conservatory of Music.
The United Hungarian Societies in 1936 launched a campaign to raise funds for the Hungarian Cultural Garden.
The finance committee, headed by Municipal Judge Julius M. Kovachy, included Parks Director Hugo E. Varga, Dr. William Riegelhaupt, John Schreier, Dr. Stephen Ciprus, John Jakab, Peter Gerzsenyi, the Rev. Emery Tanos, the Rev. Stephen Porantunszky, Mrs. John Volosin, Mrs. Albert Kiraly, Louis Toth, Mrs. Amelia Doby, John B. Toth, Frank E. Boldizsar, Mrs. Esther Kay, Ignatz Fanchaly, Dr. John Kovacs, Stephen Kovacs, Dr. Nicholas Steiner, Erno Fedak, Emery Olexo, Elmer Kallay, Mrs. Carl Herczeg.
In 1937 an aggressive campaign was launched among Cleveland Hungarians for the raising of the $4,000 requisite for the completion of their garden. This was accomplished by church appeals, personal contributions, and benefit concerts of high artistic quality. The Hungarian Cultural Garden Association at that time was made up of Municipal Judge Julius Kovachy, president Dr. Stephen Ciprus, vice-president Dr. John Majoros, secretary and John Kish, treasurer. Members of the executive committee were Judge Louis Petrash, Louis Toth, John Jakab, Ignatz Fanchaly, Paul Nagy, Stephen Gobozy, and Stephen Kormendy.
The Hungarian Garden was officially and formally dedicated on July 10, 1938. A colorful parade of some 5,000 members of Hungarian organizations, many of them in native costumes, marched along lower East Boulevard to the speakers' stand at the lower end of the Hungarian Garden, where a crowd of 20,000 persons awaited them. The combined Hungarian Singing Societies, a chorus of 300 mixed voices, directed by Carl Tomasi, sang several selections from their position on a tree-shrouded hillside overlooking the garden. Nicholas Roosevelt, former minister to Hungary, was the principal speaker. He appealed to Americans to preserve the intellectual and spiritual freedom which is assured by democratic and parliamentary government. Councilman Stephen Gobozy, president of the United Hungarian Societies, introduced the speakers. Municipal Judge Julius M. Kovachy, president of the Hungarian Cultural Garden-Association, officially presented the garden to the city.
Mayor Harold H. Burton in accepting the gift, espressed the thanks of the people of the city, and praised the vital cultural interests of Cleveland Hungarians. United States Senator Robert J. Bulkey cited the role of the Works Progress Administration in Cultural Gardens history as one which could not be measured in merely monetary terms. Dr. Louis Alexy, Hungarian Consul General for the middle west, conveyed the thanks of the Hungarian government tot he federal, state, and municipal agencies which aided in the construction of the garden. Other speakers included Joseph Fodor, prominent in Cleveland Hungarian affairs Joseph Darago, Pittsburgh supreme president of the Verhovay Aid Society William B. Pecsok, spokesman for Governor Martin L. Davey Hugo E. Varga, city park director Congressman Robert Crosser Emery Kiraly, supreme treasurer of the Reform Federation of America Municipal Judge Louis Petrash, first president of the Hungarian Garden Charles J. Wolfram, then president of the Cultural Garden League and Stephen Ciprus, vice-president of the Hungarian Cultural Garden Association.
On September 7, 1941, a 40-foot steel flagpole and an American flag were dedicated in an impressive ceremony in the Hungarian Garden. The pole and its ornate base were the gift of the Magyar Club of Cleveland. The program opened with selections by the Buckeye Road Hungarian Baptist Church Band. Judge Julius M. Kovachy, president of the Hungarian Cultural Garden Association, presided.
On July 23, 1950, at the conclusion of the annual One World Day celebration, marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Cultural Gardens, a bronze statue of Imre Madach, philosophical dramatist and author of "The Tragedy of Man" was dedicated in the Hungarian Garden. Dr. Joseph Remenyi delivered the principal address on the works of Madach. The bust was the work of Sculptor Alexander Finta, and the dedication was jointly sponsored by the Hungarian Cultural Garden Association and the United Hungarian Societies of Cleveland.
Dedication of a memorial to another outstanding figure in world culture and in Hungary's great literary history took place on May 23, 1954, with the presentation to the Hungarians Cultural Garden of a bronze bust of the poet, Endre Ady (1877-1919). Ady, who has been referred to as a 20th century counterpart of Petofi was extolled by speakers at a program in the section of the Hungarian Garden designed for busts of noted writers and other leaders in Hungary's cultural life.
Master of ceremonies at the unveiling program was Judge Julius M. Kovachy. The National Anthem was sung by Mrs. Louis Bodnar. Rev. Gabor Brachna delivered the invocation. The dedication address was delivered by Dr. Frank Ujlaki and the unveiling address by Judge Kovachy, president of the Hungarian Cultural Garden Association. A greeting by Mayor Anthony J. Celebrezze followed and there were songs by St. Stephen's Choir. The program also included songs by the Reformed Church Choir. Greetings from the United Hungarian Societies were extended by Andrew Dono. Leo Weidenthal, president of the Cultural Garden Federation also addressed the gathering and Judge Louis Petrash, vice president of the Federation extended the community's greetings. A wreath was placed on the memorial by Frank Magyary in the name of the Rakoczi Society. Kalman Revesz, secretary of Verhovay also placed a wreath on the bust.
At the present writing, Appellate Judge Julius M. Kovachy is president of the Hungarian Cultural Garden Association, Mrs. Margaret Szabo and Miss Lily Volosin are vice-presidents, Stephen Gobozy is secretary, Joseph Szalay, is treasurer, and Municipal Judge Louis Petrash, Mr. and Mrs. Kalman Kolsvary, Carl Helwig, Andrew Dono,
Judge Louis Petrash, Miss Lily Volosin, Judge Julius Kovachy, Miss Clara Lederer
Mrs. Joseph Dunasky, Mathias Gallo, Mrs. Andrew Balazik, Steven Kovach, Charles Kautzky, John Marton, and Ferenz Simon, are directors. Executive officers and delegates to the Cultural Garden Federation are Judges Louis Petrash and Julius M. Kovachy, Miss Lily Volosin, and Stephen Gobozy.
Officers of former years have included, in addition to Judge Kovachy as president, Dr. Stephen Ciprus, vice-president, Dr. John Majoros, secretary, and John Kish, treasurer. Former directors have been, in addition to Judge Kovachy, Dr. Stephen Ciprus, John J. Kish, Judge Louis Petrash, Dr. John Majoros, Joseph Fodor, Stephen Bogozy, Louis Toth, John Jakab, Paul Nagy, Stephen Kormendy, and Ignatz Fanchaly.
A charming feature of Hungarian Garden history has been its annual Visitation Day celebration, marked by gypsy music, flag raising ceremonies, speeches by prominent Cleveland Hungarians, and the serving of Hungarian pastries and coffee with whipped cream to guests by members of Hungarian women's organizations in native costume.
Dr. Joseph Remenyi, professor of Comparative Literature at Western Reserve University, distinguished both as critic of international reputation and creative writer in his native Hungary, and for many years a dynamic cultural asset on the Cleveland scene, sums up for us the implied ethnic and individual significance of the Hungarian Cultural Garden. He points out that the Hungarians, a Finno-Ugric people with a thousand year old history on the European continent, speak a language which tends to isolate them from a complete understanding of their position in the progress of European civilization. "Hungary, for centuries the defender of Christendom against Ottoman invaders, " Dr. Remenyi says, "was also the defender of her culture which developed parallel with that of the West. Scholasticism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and Counter-Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, have their corresponding periods in Hungarian history. Throughout the centuries political, cultural and religious leaders endeavored to co-ordinate western orientation with national loyalties." Dr. Remenyi cites the music of Bela Bartok, modern Hungarian composer, as a vital symbol of the Hungarian cultural spirit, insofar as it portrays "an interplay between the emotional and ethical forces of national traditions and those of individualism, as understood in Western Europe." Dr. Remenyi comments on the design of the Hungarian Cultural Garden by stating that it is in accordance with traditional aesthetic expressions, and that Cleveland Hungarians have not lost sight of their rural or artisan past. "The garden also displays the personal qualities of Hungarian culture," Dr. Remenyi says, "reflected in the tangible symbols of the plaque of Franz Liszt, whose compositions were influenced by folk tunes, and the bust of Imre Madach, the philosophical dramatist."
Future plans for the adornment of the Hungarian Garden with busts honoring famous Hungarians who have contributed to both national Hungarian and to universal culture, included the commemoration of Sandor Petofi, greatest Hungarian lyrist,
Liszt Plaque-Day of Dedication
epic genius, and master of the Hungarian language Janos Arany, and memorials in honor of Mor Jokai, popular, romantic novelist Farkas Bolyai, mathematician Ignac Semmelweis, medical genius Mihaly Munkacsy, world-renowned landscape and portrait artist, painter of historical subjects, including the famous "Milton Dictating Paradise Lost to his Daughters " and Bela Bartok, composer of operatic, choral, symphonic, vocal, violin and piano works, in whose last string quartets there has been discovered a close spiritual kinship with those of Beethoven.
No more fitting conclusion than these remarks of Dr. Remenyi could be chosen for this chapter on the Hungarian Garden. "The Hungarian Garden design should not be viewed as a superimposed ornamental improvement of the past, but a logical and harmonious expression of a nation's collective and individual spirit, side by side with similar expression of other nations. Here is an example of how true values are preserved in an American city. It proves that America does not consider the divergent cultural horizons of other nations incompatible with the basic ideology of democracy on the contrary, their values are recognized in accordance with the Jeffersonian view of man's place and dignity in our society."
Mid Portion of the Hungarian Cultural Garden
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