Murals at Cleveland Police Headquarters, 1300 Ontario Street

“The Police play a role in the community,” says Jud Kline, “they keep everyone in the community safe.”  This was the inspiration for the beautiful murals that line the west wall of the main lobby of the Cleveland Police headquarters at 1300 Ontario. 

Textile murals, Cleveland Police headquarters lobby

Mr. Kline worked at Richard L. Bowen and Associates, the architectural firm charged with designing and building the new Cleveland Police Headquarters in the 1970s.  As the $20 million building was nearing completion in the spring of 1976, the firm decided to soften up the lobby, which seemed like at “big, blank void”. Director of Design Michael Benjamin conceived and promoted the idea of the murals, and the city project architects agreed. The firm turned to two of its employees, Judson Kline and Richard Bobby, to quickly design and install a work of public art for the lobby.

Police HQ lobby just prior to opening, 1976

Jud Kline did the design and calligraphy (drawing) and Dick Bobby provided the coloration.  Kline was inspired by the central role police serve in a community. His design features a policeman standing at a busy intersection, providing a steadying center for the swirl of human activity.

After Kline drew the design on a 8” x 14” sheet of mylar and Bobby chose the colors, they determined the scale and blew it up to actual size. This was then sent to Costa Rica, where Selinger Carpeting supervised the manufacture of the carpet mural.  The four panels were designed as two sets of mirrored images (two lefts and two rights), which made it easier to fabricate.  Kline and Bobby signed a sticky note, which was sent down to the manufactures. Their signatures were woven into the fabric in the bottom corner. The total cost of the murals was $25,000.

Kline’s original drawing for the murals
Murals shortly after installation, 1976

When the new headquarters building opened in June, 1976, the textile murals were well received by the public.  “A City scene on carpet tapestries is the focal point of the lobby of Cleveland’s new police headquarters,” explained the Plain Dealer, the “four 9-by-27-foot tapestries hung on the west wall. ..were designed by Bowen & Associates and show a city scene of cars and people.” Kline continues to believe the theme of the murals is important: “The police play a role in the community, they are embedded in the community.”

Plain Dealer, June 8, 1976

In 2018, when the Cuyahoga County purchased the headquarters building, they carefully cleaned and preserved the murals, so that they can be enjoyed for years to come.  Today, one side of the lobby has been converted into the new Cleveland Police Museum and the murals serve as a fitting backdrop to police events, including the Badge Pinning Ceremonies for new police officers.

Article written by Mazie Adams, Executive Director of the Cleveland Police Historical Society & Museum, 2021