Jane Plank has been living in Hudson, Ohio, a small town reminiscent of New England, about 30 minutes east of Cleveland for approximately five years. She grew up in the Washington, DC area, later moving to California in the 1970’s. She and her husband, Dennis, met in San Francisco. Ironically, he was originally from the Dayton area of Ohio.
Before Jane met Dennis, he had graduated from Western Reserve University, now part of Case Western Reserve University. Following graduation, he taught history at Warrensville Heights High school (which is in an eastern Cleveland suburb of the same name).
Following this he was associated with Premier Industries in Cleveland.
While residing in Cleveland, Dennis developed a fondness for this city and became very interested in its history. However, he also loved the west coast so he relocated in California.
While the Planks lived in California, Dennis worked in various corporate settings. In the mid 1990’s they came to Cleveland to attend a Case Western Reserve University reunion. Dennis wanted to show Jane the Western Reserve Academy in Hudson. (This was the original site of Western Reserve University.) Jane found Hudson to be very “charming.”
After many years out west, the Planks decided they wanted to move back “east.” They have family scattered around the east coast and Dennis has relatives still in southern Ohio. Based on Dennis’ previous experience in Cleveland and the rich history of this area, they decided “why not” move to Cleveland.
Besides being closer to family members, Jane cited change of seasons as one of the draws of this area. Dennis’ familiarity with Cleveland from his college years and post-graduate employment was another. Dennis has remained an active Western Reserve alumnus since graduation and this was a major reason for their relocation to Cleveland. The Planks have an avid interest in history, so the rich heritage of Cleveland enticed them. They considered homes in Chagrin Falls and Hudson, finally settling on the latter in 2005.
Once settled, Jane asked Dennis to take her to visit various areas of Cleveland he had previously described to her. Thus, she came to learn about Cleveland’s strong cultural heritage including its world renowned orchestra, museums, theatres, lush vegetation, and historical landmarks.
In 2006, they attended the Western Reserve Historical Society’s exhibit on “Millionaire’s Row.” Jane was very impressed with Cleveland’s status as one of the wealthiest cities in the world in the late 19th to early 20th century.
For example, she knew that John D. Rockefeller lived in Cleveland during its “heyday” but learned about many other Cleveland “notables” of those stellar days in Cleveland’s history. This led her to want to discover exactly where the Rockefellers had lived and learn about others who had some claim to fame in that fascinating period of history.
In an effort to make acquaintances and learn more about her new surroundings, Jane joined and became active in a non-profit women’s organization called the New Clevelanders. Currently, she serves as program co-chair, setting up luncheon and speaker events.
As a coincidence, one of the guest speakers for the New Clevelander’s Club was Dan Ruminski, who presented a talk about the White Family. This talk further sparked Jane’s interest to learn more about Cleveland’s intriguing past.
Unlike many “native” Clevelanders who complain about the weather, Jane finds Cleveland’s weather to be what one would expect having grown up in this climate. Living in California, she said, she really missed the four distinct seasons we experience here. The beauty of the area, the traditional homes, and all the “perks” unique to Cleveland make this city a vibrant area that the Planks intend to call “home” for a long time to come.
— Interview w/ Jane Plank by Roberta M. Levenson