Slovenian National Home

Slovenian migrants have built National Homes at the center of their communities wherever they have moved throughout the world. Cleveland's Slovenian National Home is the cultural center for Cleveland's Slovenian community and the largest facility of its type in the United States. Constructed around the old Diemer mansion, the Slovenian National Home has a 1000-seat auditorium that has been used for educational, social, and recreational events. In conjunction with St. Vitus Catholic Church, it remains an anchor for the Slovenian community in the region. Although the majority of Slovenians have moved to Cleveland's suburbs, the "old neighborhood" is still a destination for religious and cultural activities.

Cleveland is home to the largest population of Slovenians in the world outside of Slovenia. Slovenians began to settle in the city in the 1880s, with a large Slovenian community developing along St. Clair Avenue between E. 30th and E. 79th Streets. Cleveland originally attracted Slovenians because of its industrial base and its need for unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. The first wave of Slovenian immigrants to come to Cleveland therefore tended to be young, unmarried men seeking economic opportunities. The post-World War II Slovenian immigrants, on the other hand, were political refugees escaping the Communist regime of Josip Broz Tito and were often older and better educated than had been the first group of immigrants when they first arrived in Cleveland.

St. Vitus, the first Cleveland Slovenian Catholic parish, began in 1893 when the city's Slovenians wanted to attend services in their native language. By 1932, the parish had constructed a church on E. 61st Street and Glass Avenue, and it is still an active Slovenian parish today. In addition to religious activities, St. Vitus provided the community with social services and cultural events, and it continues, along with the Slovenian National Home, to serve as a central organization for Slovenians today.

Images

Slovenian National Home

Slovenian National Home

This is one of the entrances to the Slovenian National Home at St. Clair Avenue and East 64th Street. Next door is the Slovenian Museum and Archives. Both buildings are open and in use despite the fact that many of the city's Slovenians have moved to the suburbs. Image courtesy of Brian Berger View File Details Page

Stage

Stage

The main stage in the Slovenian National Home. Many famous Polka artists have performed on this stage. The National Home is still in use and, at the time this photograph was taken, was being set up for a wedding the following day. Image courtesy of Silvia Sheppard View File Details Page

Stage Backdrop

Stage Backdrop

This is a backdrop that can be lowered behind the main stage in the Slovenian National Home. The painting represents famous Slovenians, their culture, and landscape. Image courtesy of Brian Berger View File Details Page

St. Vitus Church, 1932

St. Vitus Church, 1932

An exterior view of the new St. Vitus Church at Glass Avenue and East 61st Street dated November 19, 1932 -- the day before it was consecrated. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

English Class at St. Vitus

English Class at St. Vitus

In addition to meeting the spiritual needs of the Slovenian population in Cleveland, St. Vitus also provided support for recent immigrants to learn the English language. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Kres Dancers

Kres Dancers

The Slovenian National Home continues to showcase a variety of cultural events that celebrate Slovenian Culture. This is a publicity photo for a performance of the Kres Slovene Folklore Group at the Slovenian National Home. The National Home has also been a popular venue for polka performances. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Feeding the Hungry, 1931

Feeding the Hungry, 1931

During the Great Depression and at other times throughout its history, St. Vitus has provided meals to undernourished children from the community. Eighth grade girls from St. Vitus school are serving the youngsters in this photograph from 1931. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

“Slovenian National Home,” Cleveland Historical, accessed April 24, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/289.

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