Cathedral Latin School

Description

A growing Cleveland urban and east side community brought increased demand for Catholic educational opportunities for young men after the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1916 Cleveland Bishop John Farrelly announced the creation of a new Catholic preparatory school for boys to be built at University Circle. Cathedral Latin School opened in the fall of 1916 in temporary quarters in Hitchcock Hall of Western Reserve University at 11105 Euclid Avenue while its permanent home was built on 107th Street between Euclid and Carnegie Avenues. The new building's cornerstone was set in 1917 to initiate the Italian Renaissance design by Boston Architect E. T. Graham. The first eleven graduates commenced from the school in 1919 at the formal dedication of the new building. Hitchcock Hall stands today; Cathedral Latin does not.

Thirteen diocesan priests would staff the school for academic courses and five Marianist Brothers would teach the science and business courses. The Society of Mary (Marianist order) of priests and brothers was founded in Bordeaux, France and by 1849, the first Marianists arrived in New York City to pursue their mission of elementary and secondary teaching. Cleveland Bishop Amadeus Rappe invited Marianists to Cleveland. When Cathedral Latin opened, the brothers withdrew from the parish schools in the city and staffed the new preparatory school.

Cathedral Latin's historian, Gene Gibbons characterized the state of Cleveland's public school system at the time Latin was founded as struggling with a largely immigrant, non-English speaking population to fit a "working class with cultural values compatible with the requirements of the modern factory." Further, the city's new inhabitants were mostly Catholic; Cleveland's Catholics numbered 60,000 in 1860 and over 440,000 in 1920.

Latin was modeled after Boston's Latin School and, combined with the Bishop's intent to build a cathedral on the site now occupied by Severance Hall, the school would serve a function for the cathedral community. Bishop Farrelly's plans were never completed following his untimely death in 1921.

Cathedral Latin prospered, nonetheless, and grew with enrollments and facilities. Residence halls for students and faculty were added as well as an annex to the building to accommodate more than 11,000 men from 1916 through the schools closing in 1979. Peak enrollments of 1200 men were reached in the mid 1960's. Throughout its history, Latin distinguished itself in academics, extra curricular programs, and athletics in the East Senate with Cleveland's public schools and several other Catholic high schools. The demand for parochial education saw the growth of Catholic schools in Cleveland and its suburbs expand in the early 1960's. Thirty-seven Catholic high schools met the demands of 21,000 students. However, in time, the expansion strategy would complicate the system.

By 1970, Latin's enrollment declined to just over 800 students as neighboring Doan's Corners block deteriorated with urban blight and parents grew wary of neighborhood issues. In 1975, a threatened closing of Cathedral Latin prompted a three week rally of resources including its strong alumni to support the program and manage its future. "Latin is here to Stay" announced a banner on the front of the school. A study to determine future strategies would keep the school open. The effort would only last four years as enrollments continued to fall to 300 students by the end of the decade. In February, 1979, the Marianist provinciate announced the closing of Cathedral Latin following a lengthy study of its current and future status and outlook. Several efforts were undertaken to save the school by the alumni association to reopen the school with a different administration. However, without diocesan support, the effort did not materialize.

The diocese promptly sold the buildings and land along the west side of East 107th street to the state/city/UCI in 1980. Corresponding actions to legally shut down and seize the Euclid Avenue strip of undesirable establishments owned by Winston Willis made way for a project suited to the desires of the University Circle master plan. In its space stands the former state-owned W.O. Walker Industrial Rehabilitation facility which was grossly underutilized to serve patients until it was jointly 'adopted' by the University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 1995.

Photos Show

Cathedral Latin School Postcard

This postcard depicts the Cathedral Latin School as it looked in 1919 when it was brand new.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library Special Collections, Cleveland Press Collection.

Cathedral Latin School, 1941

The original building and the annex that was added in 1931 are here seen from across East 107th Street. This photograph was most likely taken from the lawn of John Hay High School.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library Special Collections, Cleveland Press Collection.

Italian Renaissance Design

The cornerstone of Latin's new home was placed in October, 1917. The building was completed in time for 385 students to start school in the Fall of 1919.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections, Cleveland Press Collection.

Hopkins Hall, CWRU

The first (1916) home for Cathedral's Latin students was owned by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese on land adjacent to Severance Hall. Classes were held here until 1919, when the permanent facility was completed on nearby East 107th Street. The original facility also housed resident students and faculty. It is currently part of Thwing Hall on the Case Western Reserve University campus.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Library Special Collections, Cleveland Press Collection.

Cathedral Latin Entranceway

The carved stone entrance way of the school now stands in the atrium of the W. O. Walker Building. The plaque in the center of the photo proclaims a tribute to Mr. Walker. Walker was a local publisher of the Call and Post - the city's African American newspaper.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.

Main Entrance Stonework

The main entrance stonework from Cathedral Latin School was preserved and mounted in the atrium space of the W.O. Walker Building (completed in 1981). The facility was constructed and owned by the State of Ohio, but quickly proved a dramatic failure for the Workman's Compensation Administration. It was sold to the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals as a joint venture facility in 1995.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.

School Entrance Painting

This photograph of a painting is a rendition of the main entrance to Cathedral Latin School. The entrance is currently located in the W. O. Walker Building (Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals), which now stands upon the site where the school once was.

Image courtesy of the Cleveland State University Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.

Subjects

Cite this Page

Jim Lanese, “Cathedral Latin School,” Cleveland Historical, accessed November 23, 2014, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​456.​
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