Filed Under Education

Glenville High School

Glenville High School opened in 1892 on Parkwood Drive in Cleveland's east side village of Glenville. The student body grew so rapidly that even a series of early additions soon proved incapable of holding it, so a new Glenville High School building opened in 1904. Two years later, after Cleveland's annexation of the village, Glenville joined the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Following years of migration from the Woodland neighborhood to Glenville in the early twentieth century, the red-brick two-story school reached a 90 percent Jewish student body. As the neighborhood grew and African Americans began migrating to Glenville for jobs and housing, the demographic changed to 90 percent African American by 1950. Additions were constructed in 1911, 1922, and 1939 to serve the growing enrollment, but the school found itself overcrowded by the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1963, the school was well over its 1,608-student capacity with enrollment exceeding 1,900 students. To alleviate the problem, some Glenville residents were sent to nearby John Hay High School in Fairfax.

In 1963, Cleveland citizens voted to allow the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to receive a $55 million bond, from which $3.5 million went to build a new Glenville High School, since the present school at the time was old, small, and outdated (with its old science laboratories and equipment). The new Glenville High School opened for the new school year of 1966, located at its present day location of 650 East 113th Street. While the old school had one-way hallways, shared classrooms, and wooden floors, the spacious new school had large lecture halls, updated equipment, and a large gymnasium. Glenville High School had striking similarities to John F. Kennedy High School in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood. J.F.K. was built a year earlier, and as some Glenville alumni noted, the only difference from Glenville High School was that the blueprint was flipped, where the location of J.F.K. cafeteria was on the opposite side in Glenville High School. Glenville High School maintained a rivalry with J.F.K. High School in sports, as well as neighboring Collinwood High School. Glenville at the time was known for its track-and-field team, the Glenville Tarblooders. A "tarblooder" was a robot man, named after the men who "bled tar" from working on the railroads in the early 1900s.

Glenville High School has had notable alumni, whether it be athletes from Glenville's successful football team, politicians such as former Cleveland mayor Michael R. White and Howard Metzenbaum, actors like Steve Harvey and Ron O'Neal of Superfly fame, and the creators of Superman. In addition to its alumni, the school prides itself on its athletics, especially the track and football teams.


On the Origin of the Tarblooder Name Clara Nelson explains what a "tarblooder" means to her. The "tarblooder" is the mascot of Glenville High School sports teams. Ms. Nelson describes that the tarblooder is a name that is often used to describe Glenville High School students as well. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Comparing Glenville & JFK High Schools Doug Patterson talks about how the blueprints of Glenville High School, built in 1964, and John F. Kennedy High School, built in 1966, had extremely similar layouts. The only differing aspect was that certain rooms, such as the gym, were built on the opposite side of Glenville High School's layout. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
You Didn't Want to Be Late! Doug Patterson explains the tardy system at Glenville High School in the 1960s. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
The A and B System Leo Martin explains what the A & B system was in Glenville High School. Classes were separated into an "A" cohort and a "B" cohort. The "A" cohort would start in fall and the "B" cohort would start in the winter. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Glenville High School "Rec" Lilian Pyles remembers "Rec" at Glenville High School, which consisted of three periods. During the periods, you could eat lunch, watch a movie in the auditorium, or dance in the gymnasium. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


Original Glenville High School
Original Glenville High School The original location of Glenville High School was at 810 Parkwood Drive near Englewood Avenue. The "old" Glenville High School was notorious for its "one-way" hallways, where students would only be able to travel in one direction so as not to crowd its corridors. While additions were built to accommodate the growing number of students, the old building could only handle so much. In 1966, the "new" Glenville High School opened at 650 East 113th Street to suit the 1,900+ student body. Source: Cleveland Press Collection. Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
New Glenville High School, 1966
New Glenville High School, 1966 In 1963, funding was alloted to Glenville High School to support building a larger high school facility. The new Glenville High School opened in time for the fall 1966 school semester. Students were greeted with a clean, updated high school, with large lecture halls, new science equipment, and an expansive gymnasium that could fit the entire student body. Source: Cleveland Press Collection. Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Glenville Homecoming, 1967
Glenville Homecoming, 1967 One of the annual festivities of the school year was the Fall homecoming. The homecoming king and queen were crowned at the Tarblooders football game. Pictured here, Majorie Pyles was crowned homecoming queen for Fall 1967. Source: 1968 Glenville High School Yearbook, courtesy of Leo Martin
GHS Prom Program, 1967
GHS Prom Program, 1967 Glenville High School held their Spring 1967 prom at Statler Arms in Downtown Cleveland. Every student received a booklet with information about the prom night including a menu and alma mater. The menu included period favorites such as fruit cocktail and sherbert. The alma mater, titled "Maroon and Gold," is printed for students to recite. Source: Courtesy of Leo Martin
Martin Luther King Jr. at GHS, 1967
Martin Luther King Jr. at GHS, 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to the Glenville High School student body on April 26, 1967, less than a year before his assassination. The gymnasium was packed with students to hear his address. In his speech, Dr. King told the students to use "books not bricks" to win equality for African Americans. Source: Cleveland Press Collection. Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
GHS Boys Track Team Members, 1971
GHS Boys Track Team Members, 1971 Glenville High School track coach Ken Kelly (r), is pictured here in 1971 with students Louis DeFreeze (l) and Glenn Hendrix (c). The Boys Track team was known for winning multiple Ohio High School Athletic Association State Championships in the 1960s and '70s. Source: Cleveland Press Collection. Cleveland State University Library Special Collections


650 E 113th St, Cleveland, OH 44108


Julie A. Gabb, “Glenville High School,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 13, 2024,