Deferring Dreams: Racial and Religious Covenants in Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, 1925 to 1970 By Marian Morton

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Deferring Dreams: Racial and Religious Covenants in Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, 1925 to 1970

By Marian Morton

     Suburbia is mostly about dreams – of more gracious homes and more spacious lawns, dreams of leaving behind the old neighborhood for greener pastures, better schools, and nicer neighbors. Two realtors – the legendary Van Sweringen brothers and Abeyton Realty, created by the son of the legendary John D. Rockefeller – sold those dreams. “As you drive through Shaker Village and marvel at the consistent beauty of its development, remember this: it is a HOME SANCTUARY,” boasted the Van Sweringen Company’s advertisement in August 1925. “Protection attracts the finest homes.” Five years later, Abeyton Realty, developer of the Forest Hill allotment in Cleveland Heights, promised “surroundings … where your neighbors are inevitably people of tastes in common with yours …. The careful restrictions placed on Forest Hill today will never be lowered.”That “protection” and those “restrictions” referred to the racial covenants embedded in Shaker Heights and the Rockefeller’s Forest Hill property deeds that for four decades deferred but did not defeat the suburban dreams of Jews and African Americans.

     Before cities and suburbs imposed zoning restrictions, developers of residential allotments customarily included in deeds covenants that mandated home prices and sizes, setbacks and sometimes landscaping. The assumption was that a factory or store or some other undesirable land use lowered property values.

     Racial covenants were based on the assumption that undesirable racial groups lowered property values. Municipal efforts to impose racial restrictions on property ownership were declared unconstitutional in 1917 by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, in 1926 in Corrigan v. Buckley, the court affirmed the right of private individuals or corporations to Impose through covenants restrictions on home sales by race or other criteria. These covenants prevented property owners from selling to specific groups or selling without the permission of the developer. 3(In the same year, the court affirmed the right of cities to impose zoning restrictions on private property in Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty; zoning would often have the same effect as racial covenants.) These decisions reflected two simultaneous trends: the rampant anti-Semitism and racism that found open expression in the (short- lived) rise of the Ku Klux Klan, tightened federal immigration restrictions, and the enormous suburban boom of the 1920s.

     Although there have always been other strategies for keeping undesirable persons out of a community – for example, realtors could simply refuse to show them homes-, racial covenants came into common use in much of the United States from the mid-1920s through the 1940s. Most covenants targeted specific racial groups that appeared to be a threat at that time and place: African Americans in many places but Asians on the West Coast; some covenants mentioned “Hebrews.”4

     The covenants in Shaker Heights and Forest Hill did not mention any specific racial group but required that a property could not be re-sold without the consent of the developer and/or the surrounding neighbors. This vagueness meant that any undesirable neighbor could be excluded – for his occupation or politics, for example. The context in which those covenants were created in Shaker Heights and Forest Hill, however, make it clear that the real targets, as elsewhere, were Jews and African Americans. 5

     Shaker Heights began as a planned community. Inspired by their success at selling distinguished homes in the Cleveland Heights’ neighborhood now referred to Shaker Farm, along Fairmount Boulevard east of Coventry Road to Lee Road, Oris Paxton and Mantis James Van Sweringen (the Vans) purchased 1,200 acres of the former community of Shakers (the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing) from a Buffalo real estate syndicate in 1906. The Vans’ Shaker Heights Village separated from Cleveland Heights in 1911 and was officially recognized as an independent village by the state of Ohio in 1912. The Vans quickly delivered on the suburban dream and laid out grand boulevards, green parks, curving streets, handsome public schools, two exclusive country clubs, two new lakes in addition to the two built by the Shakers, and tasteful commercial districts – and also built a rapid transit to carry their homeowners to and from downtown Cleveland. The early property deeds placed strict restrictions on the homes and property use, specifying architectural styles, colors, landscaping, locations of homes, driveways, garages, allowing the growing of flowers but not vegetables, prohibiting “weeds, underbrush, or other unsightly objects.” “No spirituous, vinous, or fermented liquors” and no “barns, stables, or water closets” were permitted. 7

     Shaker Heights quickly became a smashing success; its 1911 population of 200 soared to 1,600 in 1920. Although prices of the homes varied, the initial assumption was that even moderately priced homes would be beyond the reach of undesirable buyers.

     Right next door, however, on Shaker’s southwestern boundary was the Kinsman-Mount Pleasant neighborhood, which stretched along Kinsman Road from E. 116th to E. 154th Streets. In the 1920s this became a working–class Jewish community. Its streets were lined with two-family homes, clothing stores, confectionaries, groceries, and delicatessens that catered to the Jewish clientele who also built the Kinsman Jewish Center (Congregation B’nai Jacob Kol Israel) and the Jewish Carpenters Hall.Most were not Reform or Conservative Jews, who had become more or less assimilated into American life, but Orthodox Jews, recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, who had moved east from the Jewish neighborhood around Woodland Avenue. (Kinsman Road within the Shaker boundaries was re-named Chagrin Boulevard in 1959.)

     In early 1925, the Vans began to add to their property deeds the covenants that restricted re- sale of properties: “No sublot of the property … shall be occupied, leased, rented, conveyed, or otherwise alienated … without the written consent of the Van Sweringen Company.” This consent could be granted, however, if the company was presented with a written request from the majority of neighbors within five sublots of the home in question. If the company was not available to provide the consent, it could be provided by the majority of those same neighbors. 10

     In late September 1925, a crowd of 500 angry residents united “to bar undesirables … aroused by the fact that two colored persons have purchased property in their neighborhood. “11 In October 1925, the Shaker Protective Association attempted to get pre-1925 home owners to sign re-sale covenants, warning them of an “ever-present menace to every resident of Shaker Village and throughout Cleveland…. Unless a street is 100% signed up for restrictions, … the danger of an undesirable neighbor is an ever-present one.”12

     Two ugly racial incidents had also taken place that fall; the first, in the Wade allotment in University Circle where a black doctor’s home was bombed. The second happened in Shaker in September when the Huntington Road home of another black doctor, Dr. Edward A. Bailey, was attacked. Shaker police stood guard outside the home, but Bailey regarded this as harassment and threatened to sue Mayor W.J. Van Aken. 13

     The immediate impetus for the Shaker Protective Association was the fear of African American neighbors. The newly restrictive covenants, however, pre-dated these incidents by some months. Possibly the Vans were as prescient about blacks’ desire for suburban life as they were about whites.’ But most blacks, newly arrived in Cleveland from the South, were concentrated in the Central and Woodland neighborhoods, not close enough to be an imminent threat yet. Regardless, whether compelled by a Jewish neighborhood nearby or by a few blacks in their midst, three-quarters of Shaker residents had agreed to extend their deed restrictions for 99 years by 1927.14

     Cleveland Heights developed piecemeal and haphazardly. Developers had started carving suburban allotments out of the farms and vineyards of East Cleveland Township in the 1890s. Cleveland Heights became independent of East Cleveland Township in 1901. The village early included middle-class allotments such as Cedar Heights (Bellfield and Grandview Avenues south of Cedar Road) and Mayfield Heights, just east of Coventry. But in the first two decades of the twentieth century, Cleveland Heights was just as socially ambitious as Shaker Heights; Cleveland Heights too had its curving boulevards, grand homes, green parks, and handsome schools. In addition, it included a portion of John D. Rockefeller’s estate and the Severance family mansions and was home to dozens of families listed in the Cleveland Blue Book. 15 They lived in the elegant allotments of Euclid Heights, Ambler Heights, Euclid Golf, and the Vans’ Shaker Farm. Deed restrictions on these properties mandated only single-family residential use and specified sizes and prices of homes. Advertisements often described these allotments as “exclusive,” but deeds did not restrict sales. 16 As in Shaker Heights, developers and homeowners assumed that the high cost of the properties would limit sales to desirable neighbors.

     Much of Cleveland Heights was already built out by the time the Rockefellers’ Forest Hill allotment got underway in late 1929. John D. Rockefeller had made his legal residence in New York City in 1884 but kept a summer home and working farm on his estate, Forest Hill, with a golf course, riding trails, and scenic pond and boat house, until 1917 when the house burned down. In 1923, he sold the property, bounded roughly by Glynn Road (in East Cleveland) on the north, Taylor Road on the east, Mayfield Road on the south, and Superior Road on the east, to his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., to develop. The local press was ecstatic: the development would improve “the whole tone … in the entire eastern end of Cleveland Heights and [check] certain isolated tendencies toward inferior development.” 17 After some years of bickering with Cleveland Heights over roadways and sewers, Rockefeller Jr., with the help of architect Andrew J. Thomas, began building homes along the northern boundary of the allotment. Six hundred homes, all in the French Norman style, were planned; these elegant homes in East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights were not Shaker Heights mansions, but they were definitely designed for a middle-class clientele who knew elegance when they saw – or bought – it.

     In imitation of the Vans’, Rockefeller properties had stringent restrictions on land use, mandating the price of the homes, placement of the garage, home, and driveway, and landscaping. From the very beginning of the development, however, deeds also included covenants that limited re- sale. Abeyton Realty and prospective Forest Hill homeowners had far better reason than the Van Sweringens to worry about Jewish neighbors, for there was already a significant Jewish presence in northern Cleveland Heights: the Mayfield Cemetery, just west of Coventry; the Montefiore Home on Mayfield, just east of the Heights Rockefeller Building; Jewish-owned shops on Coventry Road, and across Mayfield from the Montefiore Home, the congregation B’nai Jeshurun’s Temple on the Heights. The Rockefeller interests in 1924 had tried to persuade the congregation to exchange that location for a larger parcel on Superior Road; the congregation actually halted the construction of its new building, but the land swap fell through. 18 These were Conservative, not Orthodox, Jewish institutions, but hardly more welcome in the neighborhood.

     Rockefeller’s timing was dreadful. The first advertisements for the Forest Hill allotment appeared in 1930, only months after the bottom fell out of the American economy and the Great Depression began. Only 81 of the French Norman homes, most in East Cleveland, and the Heights Rockefeller building, at Lee Boulevard and Mayfield in Cleveland Heights, were completed in the early 1930s.

     The ads for Forest Hill always stressed the prestige that homeowners would gain just by living on or near the Rockefeller estate, but in the early years of the Depression, ads also emphasized that these homes were a great bargain (which was undoubtedly the case) and a good financial investment. Nevertheless, home-building and buying slowed to a crawl in the mid-1930s. In 1938, after his father’s death, John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave much of the original estate to East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights for a public park. When the economy began to recover in the late thirties, the exclusivity of the allotment once again became a key selling point: “Its high residential standards are carefully guarded by well chosen restrictions intelligently administered.”19 This Rumson Road deed, dated 1939, required that the Grantor (the developer) had to give permission for the owner to re-sell the property; if the Grantor was not available , permission “shall be deemed to be sufficiently obtained if obtained from a majority of the owners of the ten (10) nearest sublots,” who also had the right to enforce the restrictions.20 In early 1946, Rockefeller re-issued deeds to hundreds of Forest Hill residents that extended this restrictive covenant from ten to 20 years. When Rockefeller sold the remaining parcels to George Roose in 1950, the covenants were included in the deed of sale. 21 Roose also included the covenants in property deeds until at least 1959. They were not included when he sold the remaining parcels to Vinewood Incorporated in 1962.

     In 1948 the Supreme Court had ruled that restrictive covenants could not be legally enforced. The court decision did not preclude informal or extra-legal means of enforcing covenants, however, and the vagueness of the Shaker Heights and Forest Hill covenants meant that any group considered undesirable could still be excluded.

     By the early 1950s, African Americans presented a much more likely threat to suburban exclusivity than they had in the 1920s. In 1950, they constituted 16 percent of Cleveland’s population (up from 14 percent in 1940),22 and like other Americans in the prosperous postwar period, they dreamed of green lawns, fine homes, and social acceptance. They became the targets not only of racial covenants but of racial violence. In 1954, the home in the Ludlow neighborhood of a prominent black attorney, John Peggs, was bombed. There were several racial bombings and a racially inspired murder in Cleveland Heights in the late 1960s.23

     But a seismic change in racial attitudes, reflecting the strengthening civil rights movement, was underway. In 1968, Congress passed the Housing Rights Act that made illegal racial or religious discrimination by housing providers and home-owners.

     Shaker citizens, energized by the 1954 bombing, had already begun to work for peaceful racial integration, forming citizens’ groups in the Ludlow, Moreland, and Lomond neighborhoods. These organizations welcomed black neighbors and at the same time, tried to halt blockbusting and white flight. In 1965, the city’s Shaker Heights Housing Office assumed these responsibilities.24 Cleveland Heights residents followed a similar path. Led by members of St. Ann Church (now Communion of Saints), residents formed the Heights Community Congress to achieve a racially integrated community. Cleveland Heights City Council passed fair housing legislation and in 1976 established a city housing service. 25 Both cities still maintain fair housing programs.

     It is difficult to assess the impact of restrictive covenants during the decades when they were legally viable. Memories of those who were made unwelcome remained vivid and sometimes bitter decades later. In the 1980s, Manny Rocker, then Shaker Heights Municipal Court Judge, remembered his unsuccessful efforts to buy a house on Lomond Boulevard forty years earlier; when his realtor offered to evade the restrictions against Jews, Rocker refused: “I considered the whole business a slap in the face.” He bought a house in another Shaker neighborhood, apparently without difficulty.26 Bernard Isaacs described the Van Sweringen covenants (probably incorrectly) this way: “as absolute and as restrictive as any in the nation … The covenant was used to deter Jewish families from settling in certain parts of Shaker.” 27 Winston Ritchie recalled that in 1966, already a resident of Shaker although he was African American, he applied for but did not get the “Van Sweringen consent” to buy a lot on Green Road; he finally did get the consent of five people on either side of the lot and ten across the street, but not before he was turned down by one of his Jewish neighbors. Ritchie was later elected to the Shaker Heights City Council.28

     Forest Hill residents had similar memories. “The Rockefeller area was very restricted, especially at the beginning …. [T]hey did not want either Catholics or Jewish people, or blacks or anybody who wasn’t WASP to be a part of the area. … When we moved back in [19]65, we were interviewed and asked many questions to see whether they were willing to accept us;” Catherine Ballew was herself a former Forest Hill resident. 29 Dr. Herbert Jakob had lived in Cleveland Heights almost all his life. When he and his family moved to Forest Hill in 1967, “Forest Hill was totally segregated and to get in there you had to pass an inspection by a person who was very arrogant whose name I can’t recall. But in a very subtle manner he would determine whether or not you were eligible. To the best of my knowledge I was the first Jew that moved in there.”30

     Yet the racial covenants did not cover all homes in Forest Hill and Shaker Heights all the time. Twenty-five percent of Shaker residents apparently resisted the 1925 plea by the Shaker Protective Association. The covenants of the first Forest Hill residents expired after ten years, which would have allowed them to resell without permissions. (This may explain the 1946 efforts by the Rockefeller interests to extend the covenants.) Clearly, covenants were difficult for developers to enforce, placing the burden on home-owners. But home-owners, anxious to sell and/or opposed to racial covenants in principle, may have ignored them; home-buyers, anxious to buy or opposed in principle, may have evaded them.

     Consequently, demographic data tells a slightly different story than the personal recollections. In 1937, demographer Howard Whipple Green located Jewish children in all of Shaker’s public schools, most clustered near the border of Kinsman-Mount Pleasant in what is now the Lomond neighborhood; he estimated that there were already 873 Jewish families in Shaker.31 The Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland estimated that Jewish children constituted 9.3% of Shaker’s school population in 1944, 16 percent in 1951, and 18.4 percent in 1968. The federation also estimated that there were 14,700 Jews in Shaker Heights in 1970, slightly more than 40 percent of Shaker’s population. 32 Shaker was home to only two Jewish institutions, however. Beth-El Synagogue was built on Kinsman just within the Shaker boundaries in 1954, leaving in 1998 to join the congregation that is now Beth El-Heights Synagogue in Cleveland Heights. Only one other Jewish congregation established a synagogue in Shaker Heights, Shaker Lee Synagogue, completed in 1961; this Orthodox congregation left in 1971 to join the Warrensville Center Synagogue.

     Green’s data on Cleveland Heights in 1937 shows a heavy concentration of Jews along Mayfield and Coventry Roads and Jewish children in all public schools, but especially those in northern Cleveland Heights. Dr.Jakob’s recollections notwithstanding, Green counted more than 70 Jewish families in the census tracts that included the still almost undeveloped Forest Hill in 1937.33 A post-war influx of Orthodox Jews swelled Cleveland Heights’ Jewish population to an estimated 27,000 in 1944, perhaps half of the city’s population. 34 The Jewish Community Federation estimated that Jewish children constituted 33.6 percent of Cleveland Heights public school children in 1944, 47.3 percent in 1951, and 19.8 percent in 1968. The federation also estimated that there were 15,300 Jews in Cleveland Heights in 1970, about 25 percent of the total population. 35 There are no precise figures on a Jewish population in Forest Hill, but in 1970, there were two large Conservative congregations on Mayfield Road, and several small Orthodox congregations and the Jewish Community Center on Taylor Road on the southern and western boundaries of the allotment.

     The black migration to suburbia, prior to the 1968 federal legislation, was slower, impeded not just by covenants but by real and threatened violence in both suburbs, as well as by economic barriers. Nevertheless, in 1970, blacks constituted two percent of Cleveland Heights’ population (25 percent a decade later) and 14.5 percent of Shaker’s. 36

     Despite the 40 years of racial covenants, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights (and University Heights) in 2011 have retained the largest share of Cuyahoga County’s Jewish population: 27 percent, an estimated 22,200 people and a decline of four percent from 1996 as the Jewish community continues to move east and south.37 Shaker Heights’ 2010 population was 28,448; 55 percent were white, 37 percent were black, and the rest were American Indian or Asian. Cleveland Heights’ population in 2010 was 46,121; 49.8 percent were white; 42.5 percent were black, and the rest were American Indian or Asian; African Americans lived in all neighborhoods, including Forest Hill. 38

     Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights today pride themselves on their racial, religious and economic diversity, diversity that their founders never imagined. Suburbia is still about dreams – same dreams, different dreamers.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 15, 1925:17.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 9, 1930: 74.
Robert M. Fogelson. Bourgeois Nightmares. Suburbia, 1870-1930. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 95-105.

There may have been efforts to keep Catholics out of these communities as well. However, documentation is scant because individual Catholics are difficult for real estate agents and neighbors (and later historians) to identify. There are suggestions that the Shaker Heights Zoning Board made it difficult for St. Dominic’s, the only Catholic congregation in Shaker, to build its church, completed in 1948. The congregation was a spinoff from St. Cecelia’s Church in Mount Pleasant and may have had African American members. ((http://www.stdominicchurch,net). St. Louis Church (now closed) was denied permission to build in Forest Hill – Forest Hill Church Presbyterian had already bought property there – but did complete its building across the street on Taylor Road in 1951. (Marian J. Morton, Cleveland Heights Congregations (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2009), 81.

Cuyahoga County Recorders Office, #1812714, Volume 3379, 101

7  Cuyahoga County Recorders Office, #1715174, Volume 3204, 557

8  David G. Molyneaux and Sue Sackman. 75 Years: An Informal History of Shaker Heights (Shaker Heights: Shaker Heights Public Library, 1987), 24.

Lloyd P. Gartner,History of the Jews of Cleveland (Cleveland: Western Reserve Historical Society, 1978), 183. Judah Rubinstein and Jane Avner. Merging Traditions: Jewish Life in Cleveland. Revised edition (Cleveland: Western Reserve Historical Society, 2004), 161-184.

10 Cuyahoga County Recorders Office, #1715174, Volume 3204, 557.
11 Heights Dispatch, October 1, 1925: 1.
12 Molyneaux and Sackman, 85.
13 Kenneth L. Kusmer, A Ghetto Takes Shape: Black Cleveland, 1870-1930 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1978), 168-169; Heights Dispatch, October 15, 1925: 1.

14 Molyneaux and Sackman, 20.
15 Marian J. Morton. Cleveland Heights: The Making of an Urban Suburb (Charleston, S.C.: 2002), 39. 

16 Morton, 56-57.

17 Heights Press, April 17, 1925: 1.
18 Morton, 110.
19 Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 23, 1939: 51.
20 Cuyahoga County Recorders Office, #2734469, Vol. 5020, 514. 

21 Cuyahoga County Recorders Office, #207187 Vol. 6646, 524.

22 Carol Poh Miller and Robert A. Wheeler. Cleveland: A Concise History, 1796-1996 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), 157.
23 Molyneux and Sackman, 81; Morton, 126-130.
24 W. Dennis Keating, The Suburban Racial Dilemma: Housing and Neighborhoods (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), 96-106.

25 Morton, 126-130.
26 Molyneux and Sackman, 92.
27 Molyneux and Sackman, 81,
28 Molyneux and Sackman, 84. .
29 Oral History, Catherine Ballew, July 27, 2002.

30 Oral History, Dr. Herbert Jakob, January 18, 2002.
31 Howard Whipple Green. Jewish Families in Greater Cleveland (Cleveland: Cleveland Health Council, 1939), 6, 64. 

32 Judah Rubinstein, Estimating Cleveland’s Jewish Population (Cleveland: Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland), 6, 9, Appendix C.

33  Green, 6, 64.

34  Morton, 113.

35  Rubinstein, 6,9, Appendix C.

36 Keating, 135, 101.
38 http://quickfacts.census.govt; Keating, 137.

Blacks’ journey to Cleveland laid groundwork for success: Elizabeth Sullivan (Plain Dealer 2/24/2013)

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Blacks’ journey to Cleveland laid groundwork for success

Elizabeth Sullivan, The Plain DealerBy Elizabeth Sullivan, The Plain Dealer 
on February 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM, updated February 24, 2013 at 6:07 AM

Minorities living in Cleveland confront an “opportunity chasm” in high-tech entrepreneurship and education that freezes many out of today’s innovation economy, a recent study found. But 160 years ago it was a different story. 

On the eve of the Civil War, Cleveland was a mecca for black entrepreneurs and scholars from a handful of towns in North Carolina where free African-Americans could acquire skills, businesses and property — or just purchase their own freedom, or that of family members. 

These families’ journey to Cleveland is more than just an interesting historical footnote.

It also carries potential lessons on how a zeal to excel in education and business born of deep historical wrongs can help elevate individuals and sometimes even entire communities.

By 1860, 39 of Cleveland’s 176 “mulatto” or mixed-race families were from North Carolina, the HeritageQuest database at the Cleveland Public Library reveals. These new arrivals represented a combined wealth of nearly $21,000 — roughly $600,000 in today’s money — the census data show. That’s doubly astounding given that those assets would have mostly been acquired in the slaveholding South.

Of the 28 mixed-race North Carolina families with working-age men in Cleveland by 1860, 27 worked skilled trades, including as plasterers, shoemakers, barbers and tailors.

Descendants of John Carruthers Stanly, one of the wealthiest black Americans in pre-Civil War North Carolina, were among those drawn in the 1850s from the port town of New Bern, N.C. — lured in part by Oberlin College and its educational opportunities for young black women and men.

Stanly, who died in 1845, had been freed in 1795 by white owners Alexander and Lydia Stewart, who were friends and neighbors of the man widely believed to be Stanly’s father — wealthy privateer and plantation owner John Wright Stanly.

The Stewarts ensured their former slave was trained as a barber so he could support himself. According to a 1990 article by Loren Schweninger, “John Carruthers Stanly and the Anomaly of Black Slaveholding,” (pdf) Stanly turned proceeds from his highly successful barber shop into profitable investments in plantations, land and slaves — and, starting in 1800, bought his five children and wife out of slavery and freed them.

One of the first he freed was his son John Stewart, born in about 1799, whom he middle-named for his former owners.

John Stewart Stanly eventually ran a popular school for free blacks in New Bern — education being a powerful beacon for previously enslaved black Americans who by law had been denied the right to learn to read or write.

In 1852, John Stewart’s daughter Sarah enrolled in Oberlin, leaving two years later without graduating. She later became a Cleveland schoolteacher and anti-slavery activist.

Sarah was the first of a handful of other “New Bernian” women of color to attend Oberlin, including Ann N. Hazle and her sister Elizabeth, daughters of New Bern’s free blacksmith and baker, Richard Hazle (also spelled Hazel).

hazle.jpgAnn N. Hazle, daughter of free black baker and blacksmith Richard Hazle of New Bern, N.C., became only the third African-American woman to complete Oberlin College’s literary course in 1855. The Hazle family moved to Cleveland two years later. This photo of Oberlin College graduates of 1855 is from the Oberlin College Archives. Hazle is third from the left in the middle row. 

Ann Hazle was only the third black woman to complete Oberlin’s “literary course” when she graduated in 1855.

This Oberlin connection proved telling as anti-black attitudes hardened in New Bern. In about 1857, John Stewart Stanly moved his entire family to Cleveland in company with many of his free black neighbors of means.

John Patterson Green, the first black politician elected in Cleveland, who’s credited with inventing Labor Day, also moved from New Bern with his family in 1857, when he was 12. Green later noted in his evocative, wryly written memoirs, “Fact Stranger than Fiction,” that blacksmith-baker Richard Hazle — also part of this migration to Cleveland — was one of the few dark-skinned blacks to attain wealth in New Bern during the period of slavery; typically the path to money-earning apprenticeships was eased by a white relation.

Green recounts vividly what life was like in New Bern for an inquisitive, impoverished but free black boy in the early 1850s — full of injustices that no doubt contributed to his later decision to become a politician and lawyer in Cleveland.

green.jpgJohn Patterson Green was 12 when his widowed mother moved the family from New Bern, N.C., to Cleveland in 1857. In 1873, he became the first African-American elected to political office in Cuyahoga County, as justice of the peace, and was later the first black to serve in the Ohio Senate. In his memoirs, “Fact Stranger Than Fiction,” he wrote that his father’s parents were John Stanly Jr., the white North Carolina congressman, and a slave named Sarah Rice. This uncredited photograph is taken from his memoirs. 

Green’s mother, Temperance Durden Green, was so light-skinned that on most census sheets she was demarcated as white, a consequence of the complex and exploitative race relations of the era. In fact, her son’s surname should not have been Green at all. He was actually a Stanly.

As John Patterson Green tells it in his memoirs, his grandfather was John Carruthers Stanly’s white half-brother, John Stanly Jr., a federalist congressman who also was a fierce political opponent of Richard Dobbs Spaight, a signer of the Constitution — whom Stanly later killed in a famous 1802 duel that caused North Carolina to outlaw dueling. Spaight was also the white slaveowner of Sarah Rice, with whom the congressman had fathered a child — so Rice found it prudent to give their son the last name of Green, not Stanly.

Sarah Rice was eventually freed by Spaight’s descendants. But her son, Johnnie Rice Green, remained in slavery, learning the trade of tailoring — and earning enough to buy his own freedom for $1,000 in 1837, when he was in his mid-40s, and about to marry Temperance Durden, a free black woman, as his second wife.

Temperance Durden Green’s free black relations from what is now Fayetteville, N.C., also journeyed north as part of this 1857 migration to Cleveland.

Among them was the father of Charles Waddell Chesnutt, who was born in Cleveland in June 1858 and later returned as a married adult to pursue his career as a writer and activist for African-American rights.

Chesnutt’s brilliant books and short stories reflected the complex racial identity of men like himself, with feet in both the white and black worlds.

fact.jpgAn inscription by John Patterson Green inside a copy of his memoirs, “Fact Stranger Than Fiction,” which he presented to then-Ohio Gov. Myers Y. Cooper in 1930. It includes his rendition, in the Greek alphabet, of a saying he attributes to James Hadley, a 19th-century Yale professor of Greek. 

The arrival in the 1850s of a large number of free black families from North Carolina with money to spend and marketable skills made an immediate impact on Cleveland, as many bought homes and opened small barbershops, bakeries, carpentry and masonry shops, tailoring establishments and the like.

Barbering had become a key vector to prosperity for a whole generation of free black men — as chronicled by historian Douglas Walter Bristol Jr. in his 2009 book, “Knights of the Razor; Black Barbers in Slavery and Freedom.”

And what these barbers craved — as did John Carruthers Stanly’s descendants in Cleveland — was education for their children, the education that most of them had been denied.

The first black man to receive a degree from Oberlin College was George B. Vashon, son of a successful Pittsburgh barber and prominent abolitionist, John Vashon.

The first black woman to complete Oberlin’s literary course, Lucy Stanton, was born in Cleveland to a black barber. Her stepfather was wealthy barber John Brown, who left a fortune estimated at $40,000 when he died in 1869, making him Cleveland’s wealthiest black resident of the era, according to scholar Bessie House-Soremekun in “Confronting the Odds: African American Entrepreneurship in Cleveland, Ohio.”

Frances Stanly, the younger sister of Sarah, married two wealthy barbers in succession. Her second husband, James E. Benson, parlayed political connections to become one of the earliest black trustees of Ohio University.

One of the barbers who worked at Benson’s barbershop in the fancy Weddell House hotel was George Myers — who used that job to befriend some of Cleveland’s wealthiest movers and shakers, including The Plain Dealer’s Liberty Holden, who helped him buy the barbershop in the newly-opened Hollenden Hotel in the late 1880s. Myers’ political influence became so extensive, according to historian Bristol, that his detractors called his patronage system “Little Black Tammany.”

For many of these craftsmen, an overarching goal was for their children to reach the professional ranks that had been largely barred to them — an ambition that carried through to later generations as well.

One Stanly descendant — Dr. Catherine Deaver Lealtad, born in 1895 in Cleveland — became the first black graduate of Macalester College in Minnesota, earning a double degree with honors in chemistry and history in 1915. Lealtad got her medical degree in France and at the outbreak of World War II was commissioned as a major in the U.S. Army.

All four of Charles W. Chesnutt’s children graduated from college, including his three daughters, who all became teachers. His son became a dentist. Chesnutt’s oldest child, Ethel, a Smith College graduate, married Edward Christopher Williams, the valedictorian of his Western Reserve University Adelbert College class in 1892, who was widely acknowledged before his untimely death in 1929 to be the best-trained black professional librarian of his day.

But the world has changed. So it’s this enduring tilt in the African-American community toward professional aspirations over entrepreneurism and the sciences that Randell McShepard, the RPM executive who is board chairman of the PolicyBridge think tank in Cleveland, is trying to counter. A study the think tank did last year revealed that minorities in Cuyahoga County are grossly underrepresented in high-tech fieldspoised for explosive growth, such as the biosciences, advanced energy and propulsion.

“Twenty percent of the population in the county is minority; less than 2 percent are represented in those high-growth sectors,” McShepard said in an interview last week.

“Back in those days, if you were frugal and managed your money well, you could maybe amass a little bit of real estate and open up a few barber shops and make yourself a fortune,” he added. “But in today’s economy, those opportunities are few. The technology field is literally exploding; we need to make sure that we are inclusive.”

McShepard does take one lesson from the saga of the Stanly and Chesnutt families, however: “We need to want it as much if not more as they did back then. The irony is with all the gains we have made, we find ourselves as dependent as ever on high-quality education to compete, and to be the entrepreneurs the DNA tells us we can be.”

Sullivan is The Plain Dealer’s editorial page editor.

To reach Elizabeth Sullivan:, 216-999-6153

Walter Lippman on Newton D. Baker 12/28/1937

Walter Lippmann (23 September 1889 – 14 December 1974) was an American intellectualwriterreporter, and political commentator who gained notoriety for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War. Lippmann was twice awarded (1958 and 1962) a Pulitzer Prize for his syndicated newspaper column, “Today and Tomorrow”.

This article was published on December 28, 1937 on the occasion of Newton D. Baker’s death.

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40 years ago, a spark helps Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare find its way back to the lights (Plain Dealer 2/5/2010)

40 years ago, a spark helps Cleveland’s PlayhouseSquare find its way back to the lights

Published: Friday, February 05, 2010, 4:00 AM     Updated: Friday, February 05, 2010, 1:45 PM

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View full size The State Theatre’s marquee lights cast a glow on Euclid Avenue.

Sometimes it takes a lunatic.

Sometimes it takes a self-described “career professional giant pain in the butt.”

Sometimes, in other words, it takes a Ray Shepardson.

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View full sizeRay

Shepardson sits in the shell of the Wheaton Grand Theater in Wheaton, Ill., on Thursday. Shepardson is planning on renovating this theater. He is credited with saving Playhouse Square.

He’s the visionary who doesn’t take “no,” even back when the odds of saving a historic piece of Cleveland were slimmer than the flagpole atop the tower that symbolized the prevailing prognosis: Terminal.

Forty years ago today, on Feb. 5, 1970, Shepardson launched downtown’s renaissance by initiating its first and arguably most successful restoration project: PlayhouseSquare.

He did it with an act so simple and so unheralded that there will be no parade down Euclid Avenue to mark it. In fact, executives at Cleveland’s theater district were unaware of the day’s significance.

As a functionary working for the Cleveland public schools, the mutton-chopped Shepardson was in search of a makeshift lecture hall that Thursday. He wangled a set of keys from a real-estate agent, the first of many to think the guy was nuts.

Shepardson — who called himself “a 26-year-old farm boy from rural Washington state” — unlocked the future by unlocking the doors of the State Theatre, a 1921 vaudeville house situated among three other 1920s venues along the desolation row that was Euclid Avenue.

It had been stripped of its Greek, Roman and Baroque filigrees in preparation for its demolition. But Shepardson, a former Mercedes salesman with no experience in theater or historic preservation, was impressed.

“I was in awe,” Shepardson, now 66, said from Wheaton, Ill., where he has been trying for five years to restore another historic theater.

Four decades later, PlayhouseSquare is home to eight theaters, whose 10,750 seats attract 1 million visitors to more than 1,000 events a year, making it the nation’s largest performing-arts center outside New York City.

With an annual operating budget of $60 million — surpassing the better-endowed Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art — PlayhouseSquare broke the mold for performing-arts centers, establishing a model copied by the like-minded from Japan to New Jersey.

The nonprofit organization now encompasses a public-broadcasting studio/arts education center, a 205-room hotel and more than 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space housing 3,000 employees.

More important, PlayhouseSquare’s success paved the way for the rest of Cleveland’s efforts to restore the city core to its former glory, said Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

“The Warehouse District, the Tower City project, Gateway, the Flats, the East Fourth Street district — they all followed PlayhouseSquare,” said Ziegler, who consulted on the early phases of the PlayhouseSquare project.

“The economic muscle and very creative thinking behind PlayhouseSquare was unheard of until it came along. And it has lasted. These theaters haven’t gone bankrupt.”

Rather than going bankrupt, PlayhouseSquare earns 90 percent of its operating budget — almost twice the norm for nonprofit cultural organizations, which usually depend more on contributions — and is one of the leading stops for national touring Broadway shows.

The credit belongs to a long list of people — volunteers who worked for free, businessmen who put up money, a newspaper reporter named Bill Miller who championed the cause, and theater and preservation professionals who took over the project from Shepardson in 1979.

But Shepardson was “the spark,” said Lainie Hadden, who as president of the Junior League in 1972 came up with $25,000 to stop the wrecking balls threatening the Loew’s Building, which houses the State and Ohio theaters.

“When I first met Ray and heard his pitch, I said: ‘Mr. Shepardson, you are out of your mind. Nothing can be done for downtown Cleveland. It’s too far gone,’ ” Hadden said. “But eventually the spark caught in me.”

Shepardson said his “Ah-ha!” moment took place a few weeks after discovering the State. He was getting a haircut and pulled open the fold-out cover of the Feb. 27, 1970, Life magazine, which included a photograph of a mural in the State Theatre lobby.

The story was about the demise of old Hollywood, but marquee lights in Shepardson’s head went on. He made an abrupt career U-turn, established a nonprofit organization and started peddling an idea that would change the city for good.

Cleveland was a town in a tailspin in 1970, 3 1/2 years after the Hough riots touched off a stampede for the exit doors to the suburbs and seven months after a river burned a brand on Cleveland’s image. Shepardson bucked the trend and gained access to the theaters.

“The real-estate company gave me a lease, I think, so they could watch me fall flat on my behind, which I did several times,” Shepardson said. “I nearly died one day on a ladder stringing up a banner outside the theater when the wind picked it up, and me with it.”

Then he set about sprucing up the theaters and soliciting others to help, including Hadden.

“The place was full of rats and smelled terrible,” Hadden said. “He was literally cleaning out Cleveland’s Augean stables.”

His efforts won the attention of a young politician named Dennis Kucinich. Later, as the boy mayor, Kucinich fought the City Council over $3.1 million slated to be used in a renewed effort to tear down PlayhouseSquare.

Kucinich won and in 1978 had the money transferred to Cuyahoga County to help purchase and renovate the Loew’s Building.

“That was a huge fight,” Kucinich said. “But I was determined not to let that money be used to reduce those jewels to a parking lot.”

Shepardson gathered a staff of 10 or 12 people who shared his crazy dream. One of them was John Hemsath, who joined PlayhouseSquare in 1975 and is now its director of theater operations.

“I met Ray in a coffee shop just to hear what he had to say, and I walked out with the job of running the group sales office and the special-events department,” Hemsath recalled.

“But he didn’t have money to pay me, so he gave me the coat-check concession. I was Johnny Coat-Check and made my way earning tips. But that was OK. The whole place was surviving on popcorn and beer sales, and nobody was getting paid, including Ray.”

Shepardson’s key decision was to start producing shows before campaigning for major renovations. He had to prove that suburbanites would come downtown.

He booked acts like Lena Horne, Red Skelton, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan and the Beach Boys, charging $2 a ticket.

“We called it ‘Ray’s House of Has-Beens,’ ” said one former Shepardson colleague who asked not to be identified. “But it worked.”

Sometimes even the performers — including Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary and Broadway legend Chita Rivera — grabbed paintbrushes and climbed ladders to help out.

And Shepardson started a series of popular cabaret shows, most prominently “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” which ran for more than two years.

Shepardson left the project before the first theater to be renovated — the Ohio — reopened, in 1982. But he has left his mark: True to Shepardson’s “make it up as we go along” plan, PlayhouseSquare continues to reinvent itself.

In 2008, Great Lakes Theater Festival renovated the Hanna Theatre into a new home.

Construction is scheduled to start next fall to transform the Allen Theatre into the new home of the Cleveland Play House and Cleveland State University’s drama department.

Other ideas on the drawing board, said PlayhouseSquare President Art Falco, include a major retail initiative and two residential projects.

Meanwhile, Shepardson has mounted a theater-restoration campaign across America with a resume that includes the 5,000-seat Fox in downtown Detroit.

And he’s still crazy — and still visionary — after all these years.

“His vision is in Technicolor, instead of the studies that are done in black and white and have no power to move anyone,” Hadden said. “While others tear down, Ray thinks on the big screen.

“Some people call that visionary. But I looked that up, and it said visionaries chase rainbows and mirages. He chases something substantial. Ray is a divine madman who had the charisma to save downtown Cleveland when nobody else would.”


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Roundwood Manor: Poignant Legacy of the Van Sweringens Rise and Fall Steven Litt Plain Dealer 2.3.15

Great pair of articles from Steven Litt, Plain Dealer February, 2016

Roundwood Manor: Poignant Legacy of the Van Sweringens Rise and Fall Steven Litt Plain Dealer 2.3.15

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Current Owner of Roundwood Manor Stymied in Quest to Divide Historic Van Sweringen Mansion into Condos 2.4.15

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Philanthropy in Cleveland from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Written by David Hammack

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PHILANTHROPY – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

PHILANTHROPY. Philanthropy in Cleveland sprang from a strong basis in RELIGION. In the 20th century much (though by no means all) philanthropic activity has been devoted to building great nonprofit institutions run by professionals, not only in MEDICINE and social work but also in education and the fine arts; in keeping with the principle that philanthropy should help people help themselves, these institutions draw most of their income from payments (by individuals and by governments) for the services they offer. But 19th century philanthropy was almost always domestic in scale, and, with its strong emphasis on the views and members of particular religious denominations, was often as inward-looking as the work of a mutual-benefit society. Early Cleveland’s first relief agency, the WESTERN SEAMEN’S FRIEND SOCIETY, was organized in 1830 by BENJAMIN ROUSE, an agent of the American Sunday-School Union. Rouse’s desire to reach all who were in need and to promote moral values as well as to provide emergency food and shelter gave his efforts a broadly philanthropic, and not merely a charitable, purpose. The MARTHA WASHINGTON AND DORCAS SOCIETY (1843) was also organized for the broader purpose of “retarding intemperance” as well as the relief of poverty; its successors, including the Cleveland Women’s Temperance Union (1850) and the Ladies Bethel Aid Society (1867), all offered Protestant forms of “Christian philanthropy.” REBECCA CROMWELL ROUSEand several of the other Protestant churchwomen who led these organizations raised nearly $1 million through the SOLDIERS’ AID SOCIETY OF NORTHERN OHIO (1861-68), not only to meet the medical-care needs of Union soldiers but also to support the strict social and moral discipline advocated by the U.S. Sanitary Commission. The religious basis of philanthropy led to complementary and sometimes competing efforts, both among the Protestant denominations and among CATHOLICS, ROMAN and . To compete with the public schools Bp. LOUIS AMADEUS RAPPE called to Cleveland the URSULINE SISTERS OF CLEVELAND to provide PAROCHIAL EDUCATION (CATHOLIC) in 1850; to complement Protestant poor-relief efforts he called the SISTERS OF CHARITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, who cared for the poor and the sick in a Catholic spirit, in 1852. As the Jewish population grew, a Hebrew Benevolent Society appeared in 1855. Although the city government provided a larger share of the meager assistance deemed necessary to sustain the very poor after 1855, religious participation in this field continued; as late as 1901, Mayor TOM L. JOHNSON appointed the pastor of the Cedar Ave. Church of Christ,HARRIS R. COOLEY, as the city’s director, of charities.

After the Civil War, private philanthropy emphasized the creation of more specialized institutions. Orphan asylums appeared first. Bp. Rappe established ST. VINCENT’S ORPHAN ASYLUM for boys and ST. MARY’S ORPHAN ASYLUM FOR FEMALES for girls as early as 1851; the Protestants who had created the SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF THE POOR founded the Cleveland Orphan Asylum in 1852. The German Methodist Orphan Asylum and the Jewish Orphan Asylum (later BELLEFAIRE), originally intended in part for the children of soldiers killed in the Civil War, followed in 1864 and 1869. When hospitals and homes for “foundlings” (abandoned infants) appeared in the 1870s and 1880s, they, too, were allied with the major religions. The courts, which were the key government agencies of the period, supported this pattern by assigning foundlings and orphans according to their parents’ known or supposed religious affiliation. After 1876 the state government also empowered the Cleveland Humane Society to remove children from cruel or neglectful parents and to place them in ORPHANAGES or foster homes, but the society’s funds came from private contributions. Like the orphanages, new facilities intended to encourage morality and good health among the young people who flocked to the small but rapidly growing industrial city on the lake were also founded by wealthy merchants who acted through religious associations. Protestants started the YOUNG WOMEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSN. (YWCA) a year later. Benefactors quickly provided dormitory and recreation halls that were unusually large for a city of Cleveland’s size, but not large enough to discourage the WOMAN’S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION, NON-PARTISAN, OF CLEVELAND from establishing a network of alcohol-free “friendly inns” in the 1870s and a Training Home for Friendless Girls in 1893.

Despite the best efforts of the YMCA and the WCTU, Cleveland had its full share of unwed mothers, prostitutes, alcoholics, and enfeebled old people who were unable to earn a living. Pious and wealthy citizens tried to meet the needs of these people through an ever more diverse array of special institutions. Homes for “unfortunate women” who had fallen into PROSTITUTION or become pregnant outside wedlock included the Catholic House of the Good Shepherd (1869) and the Stillman Witt Home attached to the Protestant Orphan Asylum (1873). The private, general-purpose relief organizations of the antebellum years were reorganized to provide employment advice and (largely religious) family counseling. The Catholic LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR (1870), the Protestant YWCA (1868), and the Jewish Home (1877) all provided OLD AGE/NURSING HOMES. Several Protestants, concerned about the living conditions, the educational opportunities, and the political, views of Cleveland’s rapidly expanding immigrant communities, established HIRAM HOUSE (1896), Goodrich House (1896) (see GOODRICH-GANNETT NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER), ALTA HOUSE (1898), and other SETTLEMENT HOUSES. The Jewish Council Educational Alliance, forerunner of the JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER, offered comparable facilities after 1897. During the 19th century, local governments played a much smaller role in these fields than in general relief. Individual towns did, on occasion, provide tuition and other support to private schools, ranging from the Methodist mission’s Cleveland City Industrial School (seeCLEVELAND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL) to EAST CLEVELAND‘s Presbyterian-sponsored Shaw Academy, but this practice came to an end as public school systems expanded. In a pattern that was to become much more common in the 20th century, kindergartens pioneered in the 1880s by the private Day Nursery & Free Kindergarten Assn. were adopted by public school districts in the 1890s.

Faced with the expanding population of a rapidly growing, polyglot industrial city and with a larger and ever more varied set of benevolent institutions, Cleveland’s philanthropists began to introduce new forms of organization after 1880. They established a CHARITY ORGANIZATION SOCIETY to discourage mendicancy and promote efficiency in 1881, just a year after Buffalo adapted the English Charity Organization Society idea to American conditions. Three years later, the Charity Organization Society merged with Cleveland’s leading Protestant counseling group to create the Bethel Associated Charities. But the charity organization movement emphasized efficiency and promoted a comprehensive concern for the region’s entire population, which included growing proportions of Catholics and Jews. For these reasons, it did not mix easily with traditional religious benevolence. “Charity cannot be organized like the Steel Trust, or run by paid clerks,” an evangelical Protestant wrote indignantly at the end of the century. “Charity means love; it is a personal thing. Can you picture Christ organizing love, card-indexing the good and the bad?”

Religious influence was less marked in the field of cultural philanthropy–a field that was little cultivated in 19th-century Cleveland. The private associations that brought the predecessors of CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY–Western Reserve Univ. of Hudson, OH, and the new Case School of Applied Science–to Cleveland at the beginning of the 1880s emphasized secular rather than religious purposes. They also received important support from the city government when they located on the attractive grounds of WADE PARK, created by JEPTHA H. WADE with private funds but developed and maintained by the city. Yet religious influence did, persist in the field of higher education. Case Institute and WRU were amply supplied with chapels, Protestants gave generously to a wide variety of denominational colleges in Ohio and elsewhere, and in Cleveland Catholics started several institutions of higher learning to complement their parochial elementary and diocesan secondary schools.

A more tightly organized, more professional, and in some ways less religious organization of philanthropy dominated Cleveland after 1900. By 1920 Greater Cleveland had taken advantage of the opportunities opened by its rapid growth into a modern metropolis and was earning a national reputation for the innovative and unusually efficient organization of its philanthropy. Early in the 20th century Cleveland’s business leaders created 3 new institutions, the charity federation, the community chest, and the community foundation, that transformed philanthropy not only in Cleveland but also throughout the U.S.

In 1900 a Committee on Benevolent Assns. of the Chamber of Commerce began to look for ways to rationalize the raising and distribution of funds and to evaluate and monitor the work of the many specialized institutions that had been created in the decades after the Civil War. Following the example of the Fed. for Jewish Charities (1903; later the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION), the suggestions of insurance executive MARTIN MARKS, and the advice of iron ore magnate SAMUEL MATHER, this committee proposed the creation of a Federation for Charity & Philanthropy. In 1913 the federation launched the first sustained campaign in the U.S. designed to raise funds for a large number of separate homes, clinics, and family services, regardless of Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish sponsorship. The campaign was so successful–it increased the number of contributors to these institutions from a few hundred to over 6,000–that it became the model for the Red Cross and Victory Chest drives carried out across the nation to meet the needs created by World War I. Cleveland’s Community Chest (which evolved into the UNITED WAY SERVICES), also the first in the U.S., continued to run unified fundraising campaigns after the war. In 1919 more than 148,000 donors responded to its appeal.

Four factors account for the success of Cleveland’s united fundraising campaigns. From the beginning they represented a truly united effort because the wealthy individuals who had traditionally supported particular institutions were willing to allow them to become part of a communitywide federation, evaluated and funded by a highly professional central agency. Also from the very beginning, the united campaigns were mounted by some of the most highly skilled fundraisers to be found in the U.S. These fundraisers worked in an unusually supportive environment. Cleveland, like Detroit, Pittsburgh, and other manufacturing cities that grew rapidly between 1890 and 1930 (and unlike New York, Boston, or, Philadelphia), had a small number of large integrated manufacturing corporations that employed a large portion of its labor force (see ECONOMY); these corporations strongly supported the Community Chest through their rapidly developing personnel departments. Finally, although the new organization of philanthropy reduced the influence of organized religion, religious leaders of all faiths wholeheartedly supported the unified drives.

Within the new philanthropic system, the Fed. for Charity & Philanthropy continued to evaluate individual institutions, study the city’s needs, and distribute the funds raised by the Community Chest. In studying the city’s needs, it was quickly joined by the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION. Organized by FREDERICK GOFF, president of the Cleveland Trust Co. (later AMERITRUST, now part of Society Bank), the Cleveland Foundation was the nation’s first community foundation. Between 1914-24, it made remarkably effective use of the survey idea originated in charity organization societies in England and New York and applied with great fanfare in the Pittsburgh Survey of 1909. The Cleveland Foundation hired prominent experts–Chicago welfare director Sherman C. Kingsley, LEONARD P. AYRES of New York City’s Russell Sage Foundation (which had pioneered the social survey), WRU’s RAYMOND A. MOLEY, Roscoe Pound and Felix Frankfurter of the Harvard Univ. Law School–to evaluate Cleveland’s provisions for welfare, education, criminal justice, and recreation. The resulting studies attracted widespread attention, and Cleveland’s community foundation, like its Community Chest, was copied in many other large cities.

The highly professional studies sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation effectively set priorities for the city’s private institutions. They played a role, for example, in WRU’s 1916 decision to raise funds to support a School of Applied Social Sciences to train the professional social workers who were rapidly replacing the pious, temperance-minded ladies who had carried out “friendly visits” to the homes of the Protestant and Jewish poor since the 1840s. They encouraged the creation of the Metropolitan Park System (see CLEVELAND METROPARKS) and, less effectively, called attention to the needs of the city’s rapidly expanding population of blacks (see AFRICAN AMERICANS). The foundation’s reports also influenced public policies in such fields as EDUCATION and criminal justice (see LAW). By increasing the influence of corporate leaders and of the distinguished professionals they admired, Cleveland’s new philanthropic institutions reduced the influence of religious congregations (and perhaps of women) on poor relief, family counseling, and youth-service activities. Protestants and Jews responded by creating new, more, centralized organizations to formulate and express their common views on social questions. Catholics joined Protestants and Jews in creating new centrally managed campaigns to raise funds for specifically religious educational, chaplaincy, and outreach activities.

A preliminary effort to create a Christian Fed. of Cleveland in 1900 had accompanied the decision of the Bethel Associated Charities to lay aside its traditional Protestant identity and change its name to Cleveland Associated Charities. By 1911 Cleveland’s Protestants had worked out a more permanent form of association, the Federated Churches of Cleveland (now known as the INTERCHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER CLEVELAND). Its purpose was to “improve the social and religious life of the growing city,” in part by promoting “comity in religious work among the foreign populations of the city” and encouraging “united and aggressive action upon religious and social questions.” In the 1920s the Protestants added a concern for Christian education to its agenda, and in 1911 returned to the roots laid down by Benjamin and Rebecca Rouse in the 1830s when the Federated Churches merged with the Cuyahoga County Sunday School Assn. and undertook to train and equip Sunday school teachers in many Protestant churches. The JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION, begun in 1903
and later expanded to accommodate Cleveland’s growing Orthodox community, was still more effective in raising and allocating funds for Jewish educational and cultural institutions, ranging from Hebrew schools to the Jewish Community Ctr., as well as for benevolent institutions that included Mt. Sinai Hospital and JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE ASSN.. In 1919 the CATHOLIC CHARITIES CORP. was organized to carry out a similar unified drive for funds for specifically Catholic agencies and institutions.

After 1920 Cleveland philanthropy also reorganized old charitable institutions to make use of the new expertise. As social workers, psychologists, and other child-development specialists gained prominence, for example, the old orphanages were reorganized to care for handicapped, retarded, and disturbed children. Most Catholic orphanages were consolidated into the expanding facilities of PARMADALE CHILDREN’S VILLAGE OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL after 1925; the Protestant Orphan Asylum (BEECH BROOK, INC.) moved to Orange Twp. in 1926; and the Jewish Orphan Asylum moved into the new buildings of BELLEFAIRE in UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS in 1929. By the 1940s, most of these institutions were distinguished more for the particular character of their professional services, as evaluated by theFEDERATION FOR COMMUNITY PLANNING, than for their religious affiliations, and many of them accepted children regardless of religious background. Funds for CHILD CARE and counseling that had once gone to the (Protestant) Humane Society and the, Bethel Associated Charities, by 1940 went
to “nonsectarian” organizations that styled themselves Youth Services and the Family Service Assn. In this manner, explicitly religious and chaplaincy programs were separated from job training and family and individual counseling.

The Depression and the New Deal reinforced the continuing tendency toward the specialization and professionalization of charitable organizations. When the Depression threw over one-third of Cleveland’s labor force out of work, it was clearly impossible for private charity even to address the need for general relief. Municipal and state institutions had long supplemented the work of private orphanages and institutions for the mentally handicapped; these were considerably expanded after 1900, and again in the 1930s. Even more decisively, the New Deal established the policy of using government agencies, supplied with federal and state funds, to provide direct relief through Social Security, Aid to Dependent Children, and other programs. In 1935 over 1,000 of the social workers employed by the Family Service Society were moved in a body to the Cuyahoga County Welfare Dept., which now became responsible for administering Social Security, ADC, and other federally funded social-welfare programs. Private philanthropy’s long-dominant role in the management of poor relief was sharply curtailed. Many traditional charitable organizations were thus forced to define new, more specialized and professional roles for themselves. And the Fed. for Community Planning found itself working with union and political leaders as well as with major donors and professional social workers to coordinate the work of public as well as private social agencies.

“Since 1900,” one religious leader would observe in 1956, “the specialists have taken over, and the clergyman finds himself unable to communicate with the criminologist who runs the jail, the administrator who manages the hospital, the social worker who counsels. . . .” Cleveland philanthropy, thoroughly persuaded of the value of professional expertise, supported the triumph of the specialists in the professions and the arts as well as in what came to be known as the social services. It provided significant additional facilities and endowments for the private universities, both in Cleveland and elsewhere, whose graduate and professional faculties sought knowledge for the new professions and trained the new specialists. And it created, in UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, an extraordinary set of educational, medical, and cultural institutions that appealed particularly to the city’s managerial and professional workers. Because these institutions were increasingly supported by tuition, hospital charges, and ticket fees paid by their users, and by government funds, they relied increasingly on professional managers.

In Cleveland itself, philanthropy played an important role in the creation of unusually distinguished professional communities in the fields of medicine,, engineering, law, social work, and the fine arts. The VISITING NURSE ASSN. OF CLEVELAND played a pioneering role from its origins in 1901. Following the recommendations of the nationally influential Cleveland Hospital & Health Survey conducted under private auspices by Dr. Haven Emerson in 1920, the city’s major donors moved several private hospitals to Univ. Circle, built up the extraordinary facilities of UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS CASE MEDICAL CENTERMT. SINAI MEDICAL CENTERSAINT LUKE’S MEDICAL CENTER, andSAINT VINCENT CHARITY HOSPITAL AND HEALTH CENTER, and established a large endowment for WRU’s Medical School (begun in 1843; Univ. Circle buildings from 1924) and Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing (1923). These facilities in turn made for the rich medical environment that allowed the private, independent CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION to achieve great success by the 1960s. Private philanthropy also provided the funds needed to create the Case Institute of Technology and WRU’s schools of Law and of Applied Social Sciences, and later CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management and Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations, created in 1985 to educate managers for nonprofits. Private philanthropy also established FENN COLLEGE, which later became CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY, and helped establish CSU’s Cleveland-Marshall Law School, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, and other professional schools,
as well as the professional programs of JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITYBALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, and the area’s other colleges. Many Clevelanders also made notable gifts to universities and colleges elsewhere in Ohio, the Midwest, and the Northeast. Philanthropy helped establish traditions of academic rigor and innovation at both WRU and Case Institute of Technology. In the 1980s and 1990s private philanthropy made a concerted effort to provide CWRU (created by merger in 1967) with sufficient endowment to allow it to realize its full potential as a major comprehensive private research university, serving both the metropolitan region and the nation at large.

Between 1880 and the 1960s, private philanthropy also sponsored nearly all HIGHER EDUCATION available in Greater Cleveland. Oberlin College enjoyed support from Congregationalists and others; Methodists maintained BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE in suburbanBEREA, and Catholics supported the educational work that began in ST. JOHN COLLEGE and flowered into John Carroll Univ. andNOTRE DAME COLLEGE OF OHIO and URSULINE COLLEGE colleges. WRU sponsored a downtown branch, Cleveland College, and theYMCA set up Fenn College to provide night-school and business courses. With the transformation of Fenn, College into Cleveland State Univ. in the mid-1960s, and the creation of CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, private philanthropy saw the management of many universities become the responsibility of government. Apart from supporting a nationally distinguished School of Library Science at WRU from 1903 until its closure in 1986, private philanthropy similarly left libraries to public agencies, notably the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY, whose notable research collections were largely provided by private philanthropy.

In the cultural field, the highly organized character of Cleveland philanthropy is reflected in the extraordinary set of institutions gathered in Univ. Circle and in the successful efforts to develop PLAYHOUSE SQUARE and the North Coast Harbor. Cleveland philanthropy long gave priority to “high” culture, especially in music and art; the result is 2 of the best institutions in the U.S., the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA and the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART. The orchestra has been supported by endowments, by SEVERANCE HALL (on land made available by WRU), and by the Blossom Music Ctr. for summer concerts.
Its musicians, together with those of the OHIO CHAMBER ORCHESTRA (after 1972) and others who teach and study at the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, WRU’s Dept. of Music, Baldwin-Wallace College, Oberlin College, and the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT, give Cleveland an unusually large and distinguished musical community. Extraordinary gifts have also provided the Cleveland Museum of Art with one of the 3 or 4 most distinguished comprehensive collections of painting and sculpture–and, over the years, with one of the most highly professional curatorial staffs–in the U.S. Univ. Circle houses other cultural institutions, as well as CWRU and the Univ. Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic medical complexes. By the 1970s the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, the Cleveland Health Education Museum, and the CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN had established national reputations for excellence in their fields, and the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY had put together unusually strong collections of books, manuscripts, and automobiles. In 1957 Cleveland philanthropy created still another centrally managed, innovative organization, the Univ. Circle Development Foundation, to provide land acquisition and real estate management. Later, parking and police services to all the private cultural and educational institutions located in the area were established. Supported entirely by private funds, Univ. Circle has carried out urban redevelopment and policing functions ordinarily assigned to public officials. Even more than its counterparts in the Hyde Park-Kenwood area near the Univ. of Chicago and the Morningside Hts., area around Columbia Univ. in New York, UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, INC. (UCI), has served as a model for university and cultural institutions in other cities.

Cleveland philanthropy also helped create notable cultural institutions in other fields. The THEATER, including most notably the GREAT LAKES THEATER FESTIVAL and the Cleveland Public Theater.

When new tax laws encouraged the possessors of large fortunes to make large gifts after 1949, most of them chose to add to the endowment of existing institutions or to create new general-purpose foundations. Cleveland saw the creation of an unusually large number of new foundations, of which the largest was the GEO. GUND FOUNDATION and one of the most adventurous was the WOMEN’S COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, joined with the Cleveland Foundation in a continuing effort to direct philanthropic funds to the areas of greatest current need. By 1995 the combined endowments of these foundations amounted to nearly $2 billion and provided the Cleveland area with one of the largest and most flexible sources of support for philanthropic activities available in any city in the U.S. Cleveland foundations also employed an unusually large community of professional grantmakers who worked together not only through the Cleveland Regional Assn. of Grantmakers but also played leading roles in creating such national networks as that of Women in Philanthropy.

The demand for funds from foundations and annual fund drives alike rose abruptly after the mid-1960s. In 1930 Cuyahoga County’s nonprofits spent, on wages, salaries, rent, utilities and supplies, an amount that equaled about 3% of all wages and salaries paid in the county: this number grew very little before 1960, but then grew rapidly (thanks mostly to federal medicare, medicaid funds) to more than 12% by 1990. The role for philanthropy grew with the growth of the nonprofit
sector. Medical advances created new needs for research and treatment facilities; medicare and medicaid allowed more people to receive treatment, creating a need for new facilities. Federal student aid and research funds allowed private colleges and universities to grow, but also increased their need for new buildings and for excellence. The federal “War on Poverty” actually increased the role of private counselling, family-service, and job-training agencies. In the arts, the desire for first-rate THEATER and dance organizations increased the competition for the funds available for cultural philanthropy. But new problems of the 1960s–overt racial conflict, suburbanization and the decline of the central city’s population, the decline of heavy industry, and economic stagnation in general–presented the most difficult new challenges. The city’s dramatically smaller and less affluent population left the city government incapable of meeting its established responsibilities. PARKS, fell into a sorry state for lack of routine maintenance; schools were disrupted by racial conflict and petty political squabbles; STREETSBRIDGES, and sewers began to disintegrate. The CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS lost pupils and found themselves embroiled in continuing conflicts over race and money. The Cleveland Public Library found it increasingly difficult to maintain its great research collections or to support the branch libraries that struggled to meet the needs of increasingly impoverished neighborhoods. Pressure to move these activities into private hands, especially the hands of philanthropic agencies, mounted.

Many Cleveland institutions developed creative responses to these new challenges. The Protestant Fed. of Churches reorganized itself as the Greater Cleveland Interchurch Council and gave increasing emphasis to its efforts to promote interracial cooperation and to feed the hungry. The Fed. for Community Planning sought new ways to bring together the disparate agencies that were dealing with related problems, and to establish a common welfare agenda for the region. At its strong suggestion, several long-established agencies merged into the CENTER FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN in 1969. Several individual religious congregations and private social agencies undertook to carry out new programs established and funded by the federal government. The United Way, which had developed a large and highly professional staff of its own, took over many of the allocation and evaluation activities formerly carried out by the Fed. for Community Planning. The Catholic church made extraordinary–and remarkably successful–efforts to find resources for inner-city Catholic schools, even as Catholics moved in large numbers to the suburbs. Several of Cleveland’s major business corporations undertook new philanthropic initiatives in the late 1970s and 1980s, focusing their efforts on the development of Playhouse Square, on sustaining the major arts organizations, on housing (Neighborhood Progress, Inc.) and on an economic development agenda greatly expanded from the older job-training efforts mounted by GOODWILL INDUSTRIES and VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE SERVICES (ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT, INC., , Work in Northeast Ohio Council). Through the GREATER CLEVELAND ROUNDTABLE many of Cleveland’s largest business corporations also sought to bring their philanthropic resources to bear on the reform of Cleveland’s Public Schools; with $28 million in its first 3 rounds, the Cleveland Initiative for Education became one of the largest private efforts in the U.S.

In the 1980s new government policies posed still more urgent questions. Government funds had met more and more of the cost of social services, medical care, and education between 1964-75, freeing private funds for investment in, research, specialized care, higher education, and the arts. Government and private insurance funds came to cover most of the cost of providing medical and nursing home care: institutions in those fields refocused their activities in more entrepreneurial ways to take advantage of new these new funding streams, with the result that they seemed, to donors and regulators alike, less and less like charities. When federal expenditures for domestic social purposes were capped after 1976 and cut after 1980, private philanthropy was pressed to replace them. The private institutional pattern established between 1900-20, like the pattern of government support begun in the 1930s and greatly expanded in the 1960s, met with criticism. Once again philanthropic institutions, in Cleveland as throughout the U.S., were forced to reconsider priorities and their methods of operation.

David C. Hammack

Case Western Reserve Univ.

Kyong Ho Lee, Darry. “From a Puritan City to a Cosmopolitan City: Cleveland Protestants in the Changing Social Order, 1898-1940” (Ph.D. diss., Case Western Reserve Univ., 1994).

McTighe, Michael J. A Measure of Success: Protestants and Public Culture in Antebellum Cleveland (1994).

Ross, Brian. “The New Philanthropy: The Reorganization of Charity in Turn of the Century Cleveland” (Ph.D. dissertation, Case Western Reserve Univ., 1989).

Tittle, Diana. Rebuilding Cleveland: The Cleveland Foundation and Its Evolving Urban Strategy (1992).

Van Tassel, David and John Grabowski, eds. Cleveland: A Tradition of Reform (1986).

Waite, Florence T. A Warm Friend for the Spirit: A History of the Family Service Assn. of Cleveland and its Forbears (1960).

Last Modified: 13 May 1998 11:00:48 AM

Cleveland’s Settlement Houses from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Written by Dr. John J. Grabowski

The link is here

SETTLEMENT HOUSES – The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SETTLEMENT HOUSES. Cleveland, along with Chicago, Boston, and New York, was one of the centers of the U.S. settlement-house movement. Local settlement work began in the late 1890s, and within a decade a half-dozen settlements operated in Cleveland neighborhoods. Several of the city’s settlement houses achieved national recognition; for example, KARAMU HOUSE, one of the centers of African American theater in the U.S., and the CLEVELAND MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT, with its model music training programs. The settlement movement began in England in 1884 when a group of Oxford Univ. students established Toynbee Hall, a residence in a London slum. Sharing knowledge and skills with area residents, they strove to understand and solve urban problems. The urban village concept was foremost, attempting to replicate in city neighborhoods the network of mutual aid common to a small village. New York City’s Neighborhood Guild (1885) and Jane Addams’ Hull House (Chicago, 1888) marked the importation of settlement houses to the U.S.; over 100 existed in America by 1900. The settlement movement grew in response to the overcrowding, impoverishment, corruption, and disease caused by rapid industrialization and urbanization. One of the most enduring reform movements, it uniquely attempted to change problem neighborhoods from within.

Hiram House float in the 1919 Community Fund Parade. WRHS.

Social settlements addressed Progressive Era concerns: education (with adult classes, kindergartens, and vocational training); citizenship; recreation; health (with visiting-nurse networks and health inspections); labor, unions, and working standards; and living conditions (establishing housing codes). Many programs became standard to education and government. Early settlement house support came through an independent board of directors or a particular religious or educational affiliation. While supporters and settlement workers were generally native-born, Protestant and middle- or upper-middle-class, clients in the early years were mostly Catholic or Jewish working-class immigrants. This difference between the settlement worker and neighborhood resident clearly distinguished the American settlement movement.

The first settlement house established in Cleveland was HIRAM HOUSE (1896). By World War I, many other settlements served Cleveland neighborhoods. While Hiram House served JEWS & JUDAISM (later ITALIANS and thenAFRICAN AMERICANS) along lower Woodland Ave., ALTA HOUSE (1900) served the Italians of LITTLE ITALYEAST END NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE (1907) worked with HUNGARIANS and SLOVAKS in the BUCKEYE-WOODLAND-Woodhill district, and Goodrich House (1897, see GOODRICH-GANNETT NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER) served South Slavic groups residing along St. Clair Ave. By the 1920s, other local settlements included the WEST SIDE COMMUNITY HOUSE (1922), MERRICK HOUSE SOCIAL SETTLEMENT(1919), the RAINEY INSTITUTE (1904), UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT (1922), the Playhouse Settlement (1915, later Karamu House), the Council Educational Alliance (1899, forerunner of the JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER), the FRIENDLY INN SOCIAL SETTLEMENT (1897), and the Cleveland Music School Settlement (1912). The 1920s and 1930s saw tremendous nationwide changes in settlement operation, especially the hiring of trained social workers and the emphasis on a more scientific methodology and program. National and local organizations, such as the National Federation of Settlements (est. 1911), the Cleveland Settlement Union, and, later, the GREATER CLEVELAND NEIGHBORHOOD CENTERS ASSN., fostered such change.

Following World War I, the increased centralization of urban social work and PHILANTHROPY affected settlement houses. While they had previously enjoyed autonomy in fundraising and allocation, many settlements came to depend on centralized welfare campaigns by 1930. Funding agencies frequently dictated areas in which a settlement could spend monies received from general solicitations, often hampering program development. In Cleveland, the Federation for Charity and Philanthropy, and later the Welfare Federation (predecessors ofUNITED WAY SERVICES), solicited and allocated charitable funds. Despite the loss of autonomy, the curtailment of immigration, and the general decline of urban populations, many settlement houses established during the Progressive Era endured in 1993, such as Alta House, Goodrich-Gannett, Karamu, and the Cleveland Music School Settlement. A new neighborhood emphasis by various city, state, and federal funding programs during the 1970s renewed vitality in some institutions.

John J. Grabowski

Western Reserve Historical Society

Bond, Robert L. Focus on Neighborhoods: A History of Responses by Cleveland’s Settlement Houses and Neighborhood Centers to Changing Human Needs (1990).

See also specific institutions and reformers.

Last Modified: 21 Nov 2009 01:54:41 PM