The City Club

"Cleveland's Citadel of Free Speech"

Founded in 1912, the City Club has long been known as "Cleveland's Citadel of Free Speech." The City Club was the brainchild of Mayo Fesler, a young reformer from St. Louis who came to Cleveland to direct the reorganization of the Municipal Association. Fesler convinced local business and civic leaders that Cleveland needed a City Club like those that existed in several other cities at the time.

As the oldest, continuous free speech forum in the US, the City Club has always encouraged a nonpartisan, open exchange of ideas relating to the key issues of the day. The weekly City Club Forum - the club's trademark event - has proven to be highly successful, drawing locally, nationally, and internationally distinguished speakers to Cleveland. Each Forum includes a mandatory question and answer session at the end of the week's speech or debate, allowing for genuine audience participation.

The City Club has moved several times, always in downtown, in its 110+ year history. After four decades at 850 Euclid Avenue, the club relocated to 1317 Euclid in Playhouse Square in 2023.

Audio

Carl Stokes At Mayoral Debate, 1965 Carl Stokes speaks to the historic importance of his mayoral candidacy at a City Club debate in 1965
A Dedication to Free Speech Len Calabrese expresses the ethos of the City Club and its dedication to free speech Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Pioneers of Integration Len Calabrese comments on the City Club's history of diversity Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

The Soviet Table, 1978
The Soviet Table, 1978 The Soviet Table, which is decorated with a Communist red star and hammer & sickle, was one of the many luncheon tables that club members congregated around to discuss the day's issues. It originated during the City Club's early years as a joke made at the expense of some of the club's more left-leaning members, but has since become a symbol of the City Club's dedication to free speech. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1978
Women's City Club, 1931
Women's City Club, 1931 At first, the City Club did not admit women to its ranks as full members. In response, the Women's City Club formed in 1916 as a place where women could gather and discuss the important issues of the day. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1931
City Club, 1929
City Club, 1929 Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1929
Old City Club Building
Old City Club Building The Old City Club Building at 712 Vincent Avenue, ca. 1930. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Old City Club Entrance
Old City Club Entrance The main entrance to the Old City Club Building on Vincent Avenue, 1962. Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Women's City Club, 1941
Women's City Club, 1941 Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1941
Mayoral Debates, 1975
Mayoral Debates, 1975 Source: Cleveland State Library Special Collections Date: 1975

Location

1317 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115

Metadata

CSU Center for Public History and Digital Humanities, “The City Club,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 13, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/26.