Euclid Square Garage before 1923, Courtesy of the Walter Leedy Postcard Collection, Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library

The title of “World’s Largest Parking Garage” today seems almost inconsequential, but in the early decades of motoring, parking garages offered more than just a place to park your car, with washing and maintenance services available, along with a place to park your chauffeur. Garages were often elaborate buildings seen as the pinnacle of architectural modernity in accordance with the vehicles housed and maintained inside them, and were more often than not welcomed in the hearts of major cities rather than ignored, as they are today.

We’ve already seen one claim to the largest garage in the world, circa 1908, from the 20,000-square-foot Mammoth Garage of White Plains, New York. A successive claim came a few years later from the Euclid Square Garage right in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

Incorporated in January 1913 with a capital of $25,000, the garage occupied the second floor of the Wigmore Coliseum, built the year before on East 13th Street between Euclid and Chester avenues. Designed by architects Wilm Knox and John Eliot, the Wigmore Coliseum (named for the realty company that had it built) was originally intended to have four floors rather than the two it was built with. When the garage first opened, it encompassed 65,000 square feet, and boasted an excellent location amid theaters, shops, clubs, hotels and businesses. In its March 5, 1913, edition the Horseless Age wrote of it:

There are four entrances and accommodation for 500 cars. Both pleasure and commercial vehicles of all types receive attention, and the place is open day and night. A luxurious waiting room is at the disposal of lady customers and a similar one for men. There is also a chauffers’ waiting room equipped with telephone and other conveniences where the men may rest until called for. Supplies and accessories are handled for the convenience of the patrons.

Another article announcing the garage noted that it only accepted cash payments, and its owners forbade the employees from accepting tips. Among the incorporators was Clayton K. Fauver, one of the original incorporators of the Baker Motor Company in 1902 as well as the receiver for the Prince Motor Car Company in 1912.

Euclid Square Garage, circa 1913

By June of 1913, the garage persuaded the Eiseman Automobile Company, a dealer for Imperial and Apperson, to move into the garage. And it no doubt benefited from the Wigmore being selected as the location for the Cleveland Auto Show from 1915 to at least 1918. But the owners of the Euclid Square had bigger plans. First in January 1917, they announced plans to erect a three-story garage right next door, between Chester Avenue and Dodge Court; then two months later, they announced not only a 99-year lease to use both existing floors of the Wigmore, expanding their capacity to 1,000 cars, but also plans to add three stories to the building, expanding their capacity to 3,000 cars.

The three stories were added, but not until 1923, and the Euclid Square Garage only used the first three; the fourth and fifth stories housed Edward Linsz’s bowling lanes and billiards rooms. By then, the garage appears to have dropped its claim as the world’s largest, settling for the “largest fireproof garage in Cleveland,” though they did advertise a capacity of 2,500 cars – likely using the Chester Avenue garage to bring up the total. Around this time too, the claim of the largest public garage in the world was being taken up by garages in Colorado Springs, Colorado; in Shreveport, Louisiana; and in Albany, New York.

We see no mention of when exactly the Euclid Square Garage closed up shop, though we presume it was sometime before 1944, when the U.S. government converted the building into office space. The building still stands today, housing an architecture and engineering firm, and materials relating to the garage have been included in the National Building Museum’s current exhibition focusing on the history of parking garages.

Euclid Square Garage before 1923, Courtesy of the Walter Leedy Postcard Collection, Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library
Euclid Square Garage, circa 1917
interior of the Euclid Square Garage, circa 1913
Euclid Square Garage ad, circa 1918