The late 1800s and early 1900s were Cleveland’s “hey-days.” Many immigrants were attracted here because of the work in industry. They brought with them their traditions, one of which was religion. And they built churches….big, beautiful churches.
I counted 1,041 churches in a directory of Cleveland churches. The most (231) of any denomination were Baptist. Only 162 Catholic and 126 Non-Denominational. There is one Unknown-Denomination (huh?) and one Vineyard (another huh?). Further research would be fun but our purpose here is to display photos of some of the historic churches on our tour. Not all of Cleveland’s churches are historic but the ones that are are quite beautiful.
As we climbed out of the Flats, at the top of the hill we came upon St. Malachi, one of the historic Catholic churches. This original church was built 150 years ago for the Irish immigrants. It burned down in 1943 after being completely renovated. The building you see is the newer (1940s) building and very much still historic. The original rectory building still stands. Originally there was a lighted cross on top of the church that actually lit the way for sailors coming in. The existing cross continues to be lighted as a symbol of that earlier time.
Downtown is the historic Old Stone Church on Public Square. This is the oldest building on Public Square and is the second church built in Cleveland in 1855. The building has had a tragic history as the first one was razzed before the 1855 one was built. Then fires toppled the steeple but the main building remained in tact. This is a Presbyterian church. Here are two photos. In the first one, the church is towered over by historic, brick as well as modern buildings. The second photo shows the front entry.
Ohio City (more about that later) has some of the more historic churches in Cleveland. This church was founded in 1842 and was known as “God’s Barn” due to its design. A new building was built in 1874-75 and is one of the oldest and best known landmarks on the near west side.
St. Ignatius high school’s historic brick building was opened in 1890. I’ve included it here because it could be mistaken for a church. This is the original building and is a beautiful one also located in Ohio City. The school, run by Roman Catholic, Jesuit Priests, has a long history of excellence in education.
Historic Trinity Cathedral on Euclid Ave (remember Euclid as we’ll visit there later) was built in 1901. The Episcopal Congregation it houses is actually much older as it began in 1816 on a much smaller scale.
Masjid Bilal on Euclid Ave, one of the nation’s first African American Mosques, was founded in 1937 by Imam Clyde (Jones) Rahman. Imam Rahman grew up in Mississippi, the son of a share-cropper. Later in life he became an Islamic minister. He once stated, ” Our Koran does not even hint that we should take innocent life and it is a disgrace to Islam for any Muslim to support terrorism.” He spent much of his career working with ministers of all faiths for peace.
There are many, many more historic churches in Cleveland. We just didn’t pass by all of them so this only gives you a flavor. When you visit, you will be impressed by them and all of the historic buildings.
Watch for our next post about Cleveland’s Public Square.