Maxine Goodman Levin, Thomas Campbell and Olive Deany Tabor laid the foundation for the Organization in 1972, when they met to share their concerns over the rapid demolition of Cleveland's historic buildings.
The trio was alarmed by the then-proposed demolition of the Mechanics Block – a building that had served as part of the Underground Railroad. Constructed in 1832 at the corner of Ontario and Prospect Avenues, the brick structure with the mansard roof had been abandoned despite its rich history.
The timing of their meeting couldn't be better. Louis Willner of El Paso, Texas visited Cleveland on November 3, 1972 to present what his city had done to restore its landmarks. Mrs. Levin, Mrs. Tabor and Dr. Campbell seized this opportunity. They issued a "call to action" to Mr. Willner's audience to preserve Cleveland's landmarks, inviting all present to become charter members of a new organization, the Downtown Restoration Society.
Although the society started as an all-volunteer group primarily focused on the loss of historic buildings in Cleveland's downtown, the organization and its scope grew to encompass the entire city. in 1975, the name of the organization was officially changed to the Cleveland Restoration Society. As the group developed, it found itself in need of a professional staff. In 1987, Kathleen Crowther joined the society as its Executive Director – a post she still holds today.