West Tech High alumni fight back against developer's desire to remove school museum

Posted at 11:09 AM, Feb 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-19 18:34:41-05

Tucked inside the West Tech Brick Lofts on Cleveland’s west side is a shrine to school pride.

West Tech High School, built in 1912, was the first vocational school in the city, teaching students trades like auto, wood working and welding. The school shut down in 1995 and the building became a historic landmark. It was then developed into apartments and lofts.

But inside the school’s auditorium, the history of what was still remains.

Yellowed yearbook photos, worn uniforms, old newspaper clippings — the West Tech Museum is home to a myriad of memorabilia.

“It’s our history,” said George Catavolos, a 1974 graduate. “I mean, it goes back to 1912 all the way to when the school closed in 1995. And it means a lot to us. All of us.”

“Even though the school closed, it still remains in our hearts and in our minds,” said Dave Kosakowski, president of the West Tech Alumni Association.

The West Tech Alumni Association has 2,000 members across the country and has given nearly $300,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors.

Those alumni are now worried that their museum and their memories are on their way out.

Monarch Development, a Colorado-based company, purchased the apartment building years ago and has now asked WTAA to move out, with the hope to convert the museum space into use for its residents.

A Monarch Development spokesperson sent News 5 the following statement:

The property has been attempting to work with the Alumni Association to reach a reasonable resolution to this issue for more than half a year. We still aim to do so, however, to date we have received no response or offer of cooperation whatsoever from the Alumni Association following the expiration of their lease more than seven months ago. We hope to reach a reasonable resolution to this issue but also must preserve the property’s legal rights.

Catavolos said they are willing to move out, especially because they don’t want to stay where they are not wanted, but hope to have more time to move the memorabilia with care. Where it could find a new home is still unclear.