Tremont's Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is the center of Tremont, one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods. This tour follows the perimeter of Lincoln Park and features many of the churches and other institutions built by (and for) successive waves of immigrants from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.


Tremont’s monikers are almost as diverse as its churches, shops, restaurants, bars and living spaces. Originally part of Brooklyn Township, the area was incorporated between 1836 and 1854 as part of Ohio City. Around that time, the area became known as Cleveland Heights. Cleveland Heights morphed into University Heights in 1851 when plans were laid for the short-lived Cleveland University. This explains the preponderance of “academic” street names, such as Professor, Literary, College and University. After the Civil War, University Heights became Lincoln Heights to commemorate the area’s role as the site of two Union Army camps. At this time (around 1867), the neighborhood was annexed to Cleveland. Lincoln Heights later changed to South Side and, when the City of Cleveland established community development corporations (CDCs) in the late 1970s, South Side officially became known as Tremont.


The ethnic history of the Lincoln Park area (as well as Tremont as a whole) is deep. The area was settled by New England Puritans, the most wealthy of whom built mansions on Jennings Avenue (now West 14th Street) and founded Pilgrim Congregational Church. In the 19th Century the neighborhood became home to a large number of working class Irish, who founded the St. Augustine parish. In the twentieth century, immigrants from Central Europe and the Middle East, including Poles, Slovaks, Ukrainians, and Syrians settled in Tremont. These immigrants also built social clubs and community institutions, as well as more churches. A short list of structures around the park includes St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church (now a commercial entity) and Lemko Hall. To help immigrants become “Americanized,” the City of Cleveland and the Catholic Church, respectively, also built the Lincoln Park Bath House on Starkweather and Merrick Settlement House at the corner of Starkweather and West 11th.


Today, Tremont is one of several revitalized residential neighborhoods on the west side of Cleveland. But because of the many churches and other ethnic buildings around and near Lincoln Park, Tremont also has retained its distinct multicultural flavor.

Thirza Skinner Pelton and her husband Brewster Pelton purchased the land that became Lincoln Park in 1850 from Francis Branch, the son of a Connecticut pioneer who settled what is now the Tremont neighborhood in 1818. The Peltons intended part of the land they purchased to become the campus of the…
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Lemko Hall may be best known as the location of the wedding reception in the 1978 film "The Deer Hunter." The facility’s rich non-Hollywood history is less well known. In fact, few people know the meaning of the word Lemko, which refers to a Slavic ethnic group whose people came from a…
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While much of Tremont's Ukrainian population moved to the suburbs in the decades following World War II, the Ukrainian-Museum Archives remains a presence—drawing international recognition for its extensive collections. The museum started in 1952 when Leonid Bachynsky, a…
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Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church opened in Tremont in 1910 to serve Rusin (also spelled Rusyn) immigrants from Central Europe. Rusins (not to be confused with Russians) are a Slavic ethnic group with a distinct language and culture. They hailed from the Carpathian Mountains in east Slovakia,…
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St. Augustine Parish was formed in 1860 as part of Ohio City's St. Patrick's Parish—one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the city. Other Tremont churches formed from St. Patrick's include Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (1871) and St. John Cantius (1899). The need for a new…
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Like so many Tremont structures, Calvary Pentecostal Church has led many lives. In fact, the roots on its site at the corner of West 14th Street and Starkweather Avenue run about as deep as any church in the neighborhood. In 1865, when the area was still known as University Heights, German…
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A church by any other name . . . Organized in 1854 as a Sunday school, Pilgrim Congregational Church served the Tremont community's early Protestant elite under a variety of monikers: University Heights Congregational in the 1860s, Heights Congregational in the 1870s and Jennings Avenue…
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Drawn more by economic opportunity than oppression, Arabs from numerous countries in western Asia and northern Africa began arriving in Cleveland in the late 19th Century. And although much of the Arab world is Muslim, these early immigrants tended to be Christian—having learned about the United…
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The construction of city-run public bathhouses in Cleveland began around the turn of the twentieth-century as municipal leaders became concerned about health and sanitation in the city’s teeming immigrant neighborhoods. Many of Cleveland’s poorest residents at this time did not have bathtubs in…
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Merrick House Social Settlement was established in 1919, in part to help “Americanize” immigrants by inculcating middle-class social and cultural values as bases for citizenship. By this time, Tremont had changed a good deal from its original 1850s inception as an enclave for Cleveland’s wealthy…
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According to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, when the new Our Lady of Mercy church opened in October 1949, its Slovak-American parishioners called it "The Little Cathedral on the South Side." The exterior of the small church does, in fact, bear a resemblance to St. John…
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