Merrick House


The National Catholic War Council established the Merrick House Social Settlement in 1919 in part to "Americanize" immigrants, emphasizing middle-class social and cultural values as the basis for citizenship. By this time, Tremont had changed a good deal from its original 1850s inception as the wealthy enclave of "University Heights." In the post-Civil War period, European immigrants flocked to the area, finding work in booming factories and steel mills nearby. Many of these immigrants faced dire poverty and a tough adjustment to American society.

Reformers in England and the US began opening settlement houses like Merrick during the late 19th-century in response to the struggles faced by the urban poor. Since its opening in 1919, Merrick House has indeed served the needs of the neighborhood's families, aiding many in their adjustment to America and providing badly-needed services to those struggling to make ends meet. It has also acted as a community center, holding educational, cultural, and recreational programs year-round for people of all ages.

As Tremont continues to change, so does the Merrick House. In the 1950s, it moved into new facilities and, with the arrival of Puerto Rican immigrants to the area, began offering Spanish-speaking programs. In 1979, Merrick House founded the non-profit Tremont West Development Corporation, which has played a significant part in the neighborhood's recent revitalization.

Photos Show

Merrick Garden Program, 1940

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Merrick House Staff, 1960

In 1950, the Cleveland Roman Catholic Diocese paid for the construction of a new headquarters for the Merrick House. Here, the staff at Merrick stand in front of the building in 1960.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

"Paper Bag Dramas," 1961

The girls shown here from the Merrick House and the east side's Mount Pleasant neighborhood are working together at Merrick to make "paper bag dramas." Bringing together youths of different races was one way that Merrick House tried to create a more harmonious city.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Food Drive, 1953

Teenagers from the Merrick Settlement House Canteen present food and gifts to the Red Feather Agency's Golden Age Club, a charitable organization staffed by the elderly. The canned goods had been donated as admission to a dance held by the youngsters earlier in the month. It was hoped that teaching youngsters to provide service to their community would build character and help make the city a better place.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Story Hour, 1942

Story hour at the Merrick House in 1942. Merrick expanded its daycare operations during World War II to meet increasing needs at a time when war demands were causing many mothers to enter the job market (particularly in factories) for the very first time.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Merrick Wood Shop, 1940

Peter Krehel of 2627 West 11th Street and Nick Tishko of 717 College Avenue work with instructor Louis Brun in the wood shop behind Merrick House, 1940.

Learning practical skills would make it more likely for a new immigrant to find a job in Cleveland, and Merrick House held a number of these kinds of training classes.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Backyard Scene, 1939

This 1939 photograph taken in Tremont begins to give an idea of the living conditions of some working-class people at this time. Part of the mission of the Merrick House was to provide aid and guidance to neighborhood residents struggling to get by.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Cite this Page

Michael Rotman, “Merrick House,” Cleveland Historical, accessed March 1, 2015, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​90.​
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