Site Of 11 Cleveland Murders Transformed Into Community Garden!



The Garden of 11 Angels honors the victims of Anthony Sowell by transforming vacant houses into a memorial and community garden.

The site of Anthony Sowell’s 11 murders in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood will be transformed into the Garden of 11 Angels, a community garden and memorial.

“For more than a decade, the tragedy of these 11 women who were forgotten by society and brutally murdered in a decrepit house on Imperial Avenue has been a scar on this community,” said Isaac Robb, vice president of planning and urban projects at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “We hope that the Garden of 11 Angels will be part of the healing this community needs and deserves.”

The final piece of funding for the project was secured this week when the Clean Ohio fund awarded $146,958 to the project.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy will oversee construction of the final planned park improvements. Construction on the property will begin soon, and officials said they hope the Garden of 11 Angels will open in the fall.

Sowell was found guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering 11 women found at his property. He was sentenced to death in 2011 but died in prison in February.

The house where the women’s bodies were found was demolished in 2011. In 2016, Western Reserve Land Conservancy stepped in to help create a memorial at the site. The group acquired two vacant parcels adjacent to Sowell’s house and the former house’s plot.

During phase one of the transformation project, a team of volunteers planted grass and trees. They included Good Nature Lawn Service, members of the clergy, community residents and conservancy staff.

Five adjacent parcels near the project have had their blighted residential structures demolished since 2016. In 2019, landscape architect David Wilson of LAND Studio reconfigured the original design to complement the eight parcels that will now serve as a backdrop to the memorial.

Burten, Bell, Carr Development Inc.’s Neighborhood Landscaping Enterprise will be responsible for long-term maintenance of the park.

“This memorial will turn tragedy into triumph and serve as an important anchor for the entire community,” said Joy Johnson, executive director at Burten, Bell, Carr Development. “Now that the final piece of funding is in place, what has been a dream for so many of us for so long is finally becoming a reality.”

The Garden of 11 Angels is meant to represent more than the transformation of a grisly murder site into a community garden. It’s also an investment in the Mount Pleasant community. Mount Pleasant has been the victim of systemic disinvestment and gradual depopulation, Western Reserve Land Conservancy leaders said. Officials hope this project will bring hope to the community and transform eight vacant parcels into beautiful greenspace.

“The Garden of 11 Angels will be a tribute to the 11 women whose lives were taken away from them,” said the Rev. Jimmy Gates of Zion Hill Baptist Church. “It will be a testament to our community’s strength in the face of adversity. The garden represents much more than trees and flowers. It represents hope for a better, brighter future.”

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