Czechs in the City: The Czech-American Experience in Cleveland

Taborville

May 6, 2009
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Taborville is located on the outer edge of Auburn Township. Taborville is a 110 acre community of ethnic Czechs. As a whole the community is still growing. The houses at Taborville started to appear around the twenties. The community has changed, and additional buildings have been built. The community was first founded for the DTJ, Worker’s Gymnastic Union. The founders were tailors from Prague. Taborville was originally a summer camp that turned into summer houses for some of the members.

People at one time were united due to their heritage, but not anymore. During our visit at the village one of the residents of the buildings came out to question Chris and I about what we were doing. She then discussed with us how she has lived there for forty-five years and her grandchildren are the sixth generation to have lived there. She was talking to Chris and I about changes going on around there. She was telling us that the town is becoming more and more diverse and less Czechs are living within the community. When she first started living in Taborville she received a lot of grief. Her last name is not Czech, and some of the Czech members of the community did not care for that. After a period of time the villagers started to have less problems with people being of Czech descent.

The community is very close knit. It seems everyone within the village knows everyone. Like all places they have their own problems, but they will get them resolved. It is a little odd that the people who run the meeting house for a business do not live within the village. It seems there are issues possibly developing between residents. The community is united about the idea of Czech Heritage, but it does not seem they are actually united. Since the community is becoming more diverse culturally they seem to be separating. The community was built up on one idea, that is no longer part of everyone within the community. From what the women told us was that not everyone goes to the Czech dinners held at the meeting house.


Taborville: A Cultural Landscape Survey

April 30, 2009
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The Community Hall at Taborville

The Community Hall at Taborville

Taborville is a rather secluded town located in Geauga County, Ohio, and known for its influence in the Czech culture of Northeast Ohio. The small village contains eight streets, which are lined sporadically by homes, the DTJ Community Center, and a playground set back off one of the streets. As a village, Taborville is very quiet, but lively; one of the two visits to Taborville resulted in a downpour of rain, yet I witnessed at least four residents biking in the streets. The residents seem to be close knit as well, not as detached from neighbors as you would find in a regular suburb. In saying this, Taborville is mostly a residential community, except for the DTJ Center.


Of the eight streets, I focused on one in particular, North Boulevard. The street isn’t more than a half of a mile and consists completely of homes. The homes all have large yards and there are also large pockets of wooded areas along the street. There were also rows and rows of large trees along the street. Upon observation it seems there is more open space compared to the built environment. Not one home looks identical, but they are mostly of the same styling and build date (1930-50), some being more recent builds. Along North Blvd., there are about twenty homes, some one-story ranches, some two-story, some well groomed, others shabby and unimpressive. All in all, there isn’t much coherence in form among the built environment.

 

All the streets in Taborville are narrow, while wide enough to fit one mid-size car, it would prove difficult to have two pass along side each other. The streets are paved, though bumpy, and show signs of patchwork. The entire community doesn’t have sidewalks, but the residents seem to use the roads as their walks, and bike paths, as there isn’t much vehicle traffic except for when the residents use it. The DTJ Center causes some vehicle traffic as well, but car traffic is regulated quite firmly by the large signs as one enters the village, asking vehicles to keep to a fifteen mile per hour limit to keep their residents safe.

 

Along North Blvd. the homes are close enough together to make a neighbor feel safe and not isolated, but also retain their privacy. There wasn’t much thought into the organization of the community, at least for the residences. It’s noticeable that it was not arranged or designed by a development company. It seems that the original owners built upon the land, adhering only to their own tastes and needs. Some of the homes were built farther back from the street; others were less than twenty feet. None of the homes were out of proportion to its surroundings. Each house was no more than a single family dwelling, which created a family-oriented character. A lot of the homes had children’s toys strewn along the front lawn, as well as basketball hoops at the end of driveways adding to this image.

 

The village of Taborville is a rarity today, with the countless housing developments and identical suburban housing that we as a society are so used to seeing today. This small village has been able to avoid the bombardment of commercialization and main highways, and continues to focus on the home and community. Although it seems that some of the housing has changed since Taborville was first settled, the values of the community have not.


DTJ Taborville (A little History)

April 29, 2009
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DTJ Taborville is a community in Auburn Township. DTJ stands for “Delnicke Telocvicne Jednoty ”. In English that means “Workers’ Gymnastic Union” The DTJ organization decided to open a summer camp to lure and keep younger members. Joseph Martinek was the member who came up with this idea. Two 50 acre farms were bought to construct the camp on. The DTJ members worked on the camp on the weekends, until it opened in 1925. Eventually, the members of the DTJ origination decided to live there all year round instead of just in the summer. Originally only DTJ members were allowed to own land in Taborville. However, that eventually changed and the community is now filled with many different ethnicities.


Taborville Cultural Landscape Survey

April 29, 2009
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On March 15 half of out class went to Little Bohemia and half went to DTJ Taborville in Geauga County. I was a part of the group that went to Taborville. We met there at 10:00 am and walked around the community as a group discussing things that we observed. When we arrived back at the beginning we broke up into smaller groups and scattered about the park. In different areas we did our Cultural Landscape Surveys. On the way to our separate destinations, some students met community member and made contacts for future interviews.

 

I have connections in Taborville and was trying to arrange for us to get into the community house. I was also trying to arrange interviews with community members. Unfortunately, there were scheduling conflicts and we were not able to do either the interviews nor getting in to the community house. I will continue to try and meet with these people and arrange interviews and get into the community house.


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