Lemko Hall

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 part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now southeastern Poland.

Lemkos began immigrating to Cleveland in the late 19th-century (around the same time as other Central and Eastern Europeans) and settled in Tremont in large numbers. Immigrant Andrew Koreny constructed "Koreny Hall" in 1911, and it became a social center with a saloon and a ballroom for special events and performances. For a time, a savings and loan serving Rusin immigrants also was located in the building.

Cleveland's Lemko population continued to grow and, by the early 1930s, it was the largest of any city in the nation. Until it moved to Yonkers, New York, in 1939 the Lemko Association of the USA and Canada (founded in Cleveland in 1931) had its headquarters in Cleveland and published its newspaper in the city.

In the 1930s, the local branch of the Lemko Association purchased Koreny Hall and renamed it Lemko Hall. For almost six decades, the building continued to serve as a community and cultural center for Lemkos, hosting theatrical performances, concerts, lectures, weddings, language classes, and several of the Lemko Association's national congresses. Neighborhood residents continued to frequent its bar, as well. The Lemko Association sold the building to a developer in 1987. It now contains a mix of condominiums and ground-floor commercial spaces.

Images

Lemko Hall, ca. 1970s

Lemko Hall, ca. 1970s

By the time this photograph was taken, Lemko Hall was falling into disuse as more and more Lemkos left Tremont and moved to the suburbs. Other ethnic institutions in the neighborhood shared a similar fate as suburbanization took hold in the decades following World War II. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Scene From "The Deer Hunter"

Scene From "The Deer Hunter"

Actress Rutanya Alda is pictured in the wedding banquet scene in the Lemko Hall ballroom for the 1978 movie "The Deer Hunter." Producers recruited more than 200 extras and a local band from the neighborhood for the scene. The actual wedding was filmed in nearby St. Theodosius Cathedral. The film, which tells the story of three Pennsylvania steel workers going off to fight in Vietnam, won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Picture. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Turret, 2009

Turret, 2009

A close-up of the turret on top of Lemko Hall in 2009. Image courtesy of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities View File Details Page

Rusin Heritage, 1929

Rusin Heritage, 1929

Members of Cleveland's Rusin community wear folk dress to honor their heritage in 1929. Lemkos are a part of the Rusin ethnic group. Image courtesy fo Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Holy Ghost, Tremont

Holy Ghost, Tremont

Many Lemkos worshipped at Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church on West 14th Street in Tremont. The church, which opened in 1910, closed its doors in 2009. Other Lemkos practiced Eastern Orthodoxy and worshipped at the nearby Saint Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Michael Rotman, “Lemko Hall,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 27, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/325.
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