For the second time in two years, one of Cleveland’s four shrines to its spandex-clad native son has been desecrated by a driver who lost control of his vehicle. The first of this noteworthy quartet is at the city’s Hopkins International Airport: erected last October, an imposing statue of Superman stands at attention (his usual posture) in front of a verbal mural proclaiming Cleveland his birthplace. And near the clock tower at the corner of East 105th Street and St. Clair Avenue is a two-sided imitation bronze historical marker honoring Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman’s creators. Set up in 2003 on the 65th anniversary of the Man of Steel’s birth, the marker manages to misspell Siegel’s name on one of its two sides. The $2,500 marker was sawed off its post and stolen last year; but the thieves returned it three weeks later, undamaged (Siegel’s name still misspelled).

The house where Siegel lived when he invented Superman during a hot, sleepless night in 1933 is the third shrine, designated a landmark by the city in 1986.          

The couple that has owned and occupied the house since 1983 is apparently delighted by all the attention their home gets — bus-loads of passing tourists and occasional drop-in visitors (who, if Jefferson and Hattie May Gray aren’t too busy at the moment, might get to peek inside at the attic room where Siegel liked to work in seclusion and where the Grays display Superman memorabilia they’ve collected). When the building was renovated in 2009, an “S” plaque was affixed to the fence in front of the Gray house.


The fourth Superman shrine is at the corner where Armor Avenue deadends at Parkwood Drive, the site of the apartment building where Joe Shuster lived, eleven blocks south of Siegel’s house. It was to Shuster’s that Siegel ran the morning after his sleepless night conjuring up Superman, eager to tell the young artist about this new creation; Shuster, acting upon Siegel’s prompts, then drew the first depictions of the watershed superhero.

The apartment building was torn down in 1974, but the Siegel and Shuster Society built its shrine around the private home that was built there in place of the apartment building. Raising money with an online auction, the SSS had the first Superman story from Action Comics No.1 transferred to metal plates, which were then hung on a fence at the property.


Portions of the fence have twice been demolished by errant drivers, most recently last spring on June 5, when Antwann Houston veered off Parkwood into the left half of the V-shaped fence shown in our visual aid, taking down also the corner plaque depicting Siegel and Shuster and describing their creation. Houston was charged with drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license.

The family that lives in the house behind the fence collected the plates; at least one has been badly damaged.

The previous demolition took place in May 2011, when a neighbor drove his car through the other half of the V-shaped fence. The damage then was estimated at $2,600. The plates were replaced.

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