During this audio tour—roughly 50 minutes—you will circumnavigate one of the Cleveland’s oldest and most interesting public spaces—Tremont’s Lincoln Park. On the way we’ll stop briefly at nearly a dozen structures where you’ll learn a bit about architecture, history, art and people. Your starting point is the northeast corner of Lincoln Park (where Kenilworth Avenue meets West 11th Street). There is plenty of on-street parking in the vicinity. To start the tour simply hit the “play” button. You may pause the tour at any time and then hit “play” to restart. We hope you enjoy this installment of Cleveland Walks.
The eight-acre parcel now known as Lincoln Park has had many lives. In the 1860s it was the front campus of the short-lived Cleveland University. When the University closed, the privately owned park was fenced off and kept private. In 1879 the City of Cleveland purchased the park and opened it to the public. Complementing the park’s old-world flavor is Lemko Hall which, over its 100-year history, has been a social center, saloon, savings & loan and residence, as well as the site of the wedding reception in the 1978 film “The Deer Hunter.”
This wonderful little museum contains more than 20,000 books, thousands of newspapers and sound recordings, as well as documents, photographs, artwork, clothing and other artifacts relating to Ukrainian culture. Perhaps the most aesthetically fascinating collection is “pysanky”: Easter eggs decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a batik-like method.
No longer open to the public, this church was built in 1910 to serve Rusin immigrants from Central Europe. Rusins should not be confused with Russians. Rusins are a Slavic ethnic group with a distinct language and culture. Above the church’s three domes are Byzantine crosses, also known as Orthodox, Russian, or Suppedaneum (“suhp-i-dey-nee-um”) crosses. Suppedaneum means “a shelf affixed to a cross for supporting the feet of the crucified.”
This beautiful structure looks almost new, but it’s among the oldest in Tremont—built in 1864. Throughout its life, the church has served several congregations, including the Tremont community’s early Protestant elite as well as Roman Irish Catholic.
This handsome yellow-brick structure is gothic in nature, with highlights that include large pointed windows with hood moldings and corbel stops (that is, “decorative supports”) on the front and sides. Originally known as Emmanuel Evangelical, it served German residents until the middle of the 20th Century. The church was sold in 1968 to the Cleveland Baptist Temple. Since 1994 it has served the Puerto Rican community as Iglesia Pentecostal El Calvario (“Calvary Pentecostal Church”).
This magnificent Richardsonian Romanesque facility originally catered to the Tremont community’s Protestant elite. The building features Tiffany-style stained glass windows and a magnificent ceiling dome. It was designed to seat 3,000 worshippers while providing space for educational and recreational activities: a sanctuary, kitchen, library, art museum and gymnasium all residing under one roof! Pilgrim also is believed to be the first building on Cleveland’s west side to have electricity.
Tremont’s Arab community—many hailing from Lebanon—purchased the old Lincoln Park Methodist Episcopal Church on West 14th Street and Starkweather Avenue in 1933. Soon after, fire destroyed nearly all of the building and church members raised more than $40,000 to rebuild. The largely new, Byzantine style building you see before you was dedicated in 1935.
This elegant structure was one of close to a dozen public bath houses that existed in the city of Cleveland in the early 20th century. Since few homes (particularly those in poorer neighborhoods) had indoor plumbing, such facilities were a boon. In and around Cleveland’s bath houses would have been dozens of showers as well as recreation areas, meeting rooms and even medical clinics. Today, Lincoln Park Baths is a metaphor for urban reuse and regeneration.
Like any great old pub, Prosperity Social Club has changed little since it opened as Dempsey’s Oasis in 1938. Art Deco influences. Wormy chestnut walls. A walnut bar. Vintage beer memorabilia. Most of the original tables and chairs. Even a kitschy game room that includes an old-fashioned bowling machine and vintage board games.
Reformers in England and the US began opening settlement houses like Merrick in the late 19th century. Roughly ten such facilities were built in Cleveland and some—such as Karamu, Alta and Merrick—still survive. Merrick House’s original facility, named for Mary Merrick, founder of the National Christ Child Society, was located in a small storefront at this location. In 1949, that facility was replaced by the one you see here.
In 1915, Catholic Slovaks petitioned the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese to grant them a parish in Tremont. Their petition was denied, leading to a brief schism within the Diocese. In 1917, a small wood-frame church was built on West 11th Street which, from 1917 to 1922 was known as St. John the Baptist. In 1922, the rift between Tremont’s Slovak Catholics and the Diocese was mended, and the small church became our Our Lady of Mercy. Closed since 2010, the building is now home to several companies.