Filed Under Education

Cleveland Music School Settlement

The Music Settlement offers music lessons to a wide audience, especially underprivileged children, to create a community of artistic expression. Created as part of the settlement movement, the Music Settlement remains one of the largest settlement houses in the country. The settlement movement began in the late nineteenth century and peaked during the early twentieth. Social reformers hoped to alleviate the poverty of their neighbors and create a more equitable society. They hoped to achieve this through settlement houses in which upper and middle class volunteers provided education, healthcare, and other services in poor, urban areas.

The Music Settlement was established in 1911 inside the walls of The Goodrich House by Almeda Adams. Although blind, she mastered and taught music with the help of colleagues and a $1,000 donation from the Fortnightly Musical Club. The settlement house provided free or inexpensive musical training for the Cleveland's immigrant population, especially children. Within a few years attendance more than tripled and the school was forced to move several times to accommodate growing class sizes. During the Depression, class fees were waived for most students. In 1938 Edmund Burke, a wealthy banker, sold his forty-two room house to the Cleveland Music School Settlement. The Music Settlement still resides in the Burke Estate at 11125 Magnolia Drive although the campus now encompasses five buildings.

By 1963 the Cleveland Music School Settlement had 1,300 active members. In 1966, it began a music therapy program which assist both children and adults with special needs. Currently, the organization offers early childhood education for children ages 3 to 8 and allows people of all ages to begin taking music lessons in instruments ranging from violin to the harp. The Music Settlement remains a force in the artistic community and many of its graduates perform with the Cleveland Orchestra. Today it is one of the largest schools of its kind in the United States, serving nearly 2,700 students, many of whom received scholarship or financial aid.


Almeda Adams
Almeda Adams Almeda Adams founded the Cleveland Music School Settlement with the help of Adella Prentiss Hughes and the Fortnightly Music Club. The daughter of an itinerant preacher, she attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and was the first blind student there. Adams was a voice and piano instructor, despite losing her sight at six months old. In addition to her work at the Music School, Adams was lecturer and traveler. In 1929, her book Seeing Europe Through Sightless Eyes was published chronicling her reactions to Europe's greatest artworks. The museums she visited allowed her to touch the items, including the Vatican. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Burke Estate
Burke Estate In 1938, banker Edmund Burke (1879-1962) sold his house to the Cleveland Music School Settlement which had outgrown its space in the Goodrich House. Edmund Burke, a Princeton graduate, worked for the Corrigan McKinney Steel Company where his grandfather was a major stockholder. Later, he served as a director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and was the chairman of the Board of Director from 1934 to 1936. After selling his home to the Cleveland Music School Settlement, he and his wife, Josephine, moved to Cleveland Heights. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Plain Dealer Article, 1912
Plain Dealer Article, 1912 On October 24, 1912, the Plain Dealer ran a society article about the reception for Miss Eleanor Crawford of the New York Music School Settlement. The Cleveland Music School was only three weeks old but already 115 students had enrolled. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Newspaper archives
A Most Interesting and Unusual Performance, 1917
A Most Interesting and Unusual Performance, 1917 This advertisement ran in the Plain Dealer on April 18, 1917 a week before the "interesting and unusual" performance by the Neighborhood Players of New York. The Cleveland Music School Settlement sponsored the performance in connection with one by their own Young People's Symphony Orchestra. Note the ticket prices at the bottom of the ad.  Source: Cleveland Public Library, Newspaper archives
Goodrich Settlement House, 1932
Goodrich Settlement House, 1932 The first home of the Cleveland Music School Settlement was at the Goodrich Settlement House. The Goodrich House opened in 1897 at Bond St. (E. 6th) and St. Clair Ave. Founded by Flora Stone Mather in conjunction with First Presbyterian Church (Old Stone Church), it provided a wide variety of services and hosted many organizations in addition to the Music School such as the Consumers League of Ohio, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Society for the Blind. Goodrich House, named after Rev. William Goodrich of First Presbyterian Church, was one of the first settlement houses in Cleveland. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections


11125 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106


Sule Holder and Sarah Kasper, “Cleveland Music School Settlement,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 24, 2024,