East End Neighborhood House

In 1907, Hedwig Kosbab, a Hungarian immigrant's daughter and social worker, began teaching English to children on the porch of her mother’s home. As Kosbab’s programs expanded, she moved them first to a storeroom at East 89th Street and Woodland Avenue. In 1910 Kosbab’s venture incorporated at East End Neighborhood House and over the next year held high-profile fundraisers that included a charity bridge party at the Colonial Club and a benefit performance of The Three Lights by May Robson at the Colonial Theater. In 1911 the organization moved into a former saloon at 9410 Holton Avenue to serve a growing immigrant population in the predominantly Hungarian, Slovak, and Italian Buckeye, Woodland, and Woodhill areas and also maintained a summer playground and training garden at Woodland and East 93rd Street. East End Neighborhood House was guided by influential board members such as Samuel Mather, Rollin White (founder of White Consolidated Industries, co-founder of American Ball Bearing Company, and founder of Baker Motor Vehicle Company), and O. P. Van Sweringen.

East End Neighborhood House moved to 2749 Woodhill Road in 1916. The house had previously served as the residence of J. T. and Catherine Wamelink. J. T. Wamelink was a Dutch immigrant, musician, composer, and music store proprietor who also invested in real estate on Cleveland’s east side in the latter half of the nineteenth century. On one of his parcels Wamelink created a triangular subdivision bounded by Woodland Avenue, Woodland Hills Avenue (later Woodhill Road), and Steinway Avenue, a new street whose name reflected his musical interest. The Wamelinks retained eight acres to the east, across Woodland Hills Avenue, as their homestead. There they built a large, two-and-a-half story, hipped-roof frame house in 1894. After Mr. Wamelink died in 1900, Catherine subdivided much of the homestead in 1907. These lots remained unbuilt, and in 1912 the Weybridge Land Company, a “straw corporation” for M. J. and O. P. Van Sweringen’s real estate interest, bought the entirety of the Wamelink property before transferring it to the Van Sweringen Company. Both entities stipulated in the transfer deeds a life interest for Mrs. Wamelink that enabled her to remain in her home, which she did until her death in 1915. The Van Sweringen Company continued to own the property until East End Neighborhood House acquired it in 1933.

In addition to ongoing English classes for children, East End Neighborhood House began other clubs, summer programs, and craft classes. The organization directed more of its energies toward serving African Americans following the Buckeye neighborhood’s racial transition that began in the 1940s. A $100,000 addition designed by architect Philip L. Small was completed in 1950. The addition contained a large room with a stage, lounges with a kitchen, sewing rooms, woodworking and ceramic rooms, craft rooms, and a photographic dark room. East End Neighborhood House served more than 4,000 people at that time and had a daycare for children and older individuals, programs for children, transportation, a gardening center, music and art programs, and vocational training for high school dropouts. Two classes for adults entitled "Understanding Your Child" and "Home Nursing" were created in 1959. A new "Taking Off Pounds Sensibly" program began in 1961 that had group therapy discussions every week. East End Neighborhood House also collaborated with other organizations and groups to put on events such as Circus Day and the Soap Box Derby.

Today, East End Neighborhood House remains in its 2749 Woodhill Road location and is thriving. It still offers daycare and after-school programs for children and services to the elderly. The organization now offers home visits for children at risk and hosts Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Images

East End Neighborhood House The 2749 Woodhill Road location has been the headquarters for the East End Neighborhood House since 1916 and continues to be a site that enriches the lives of the community. A substantial addition was constructed in 1950 with the help of architect Philip L. Small. Creator: Jessica Poiner
J. T. Wamelink Portrait, ca. 1896 J. T. Wamelink was an accomplished organist, pianist, and composer. Originally from the Netherlands, Wamelink immigrated to Cleveland in the 1830s. He opened a music store in the 1850s at 323 Superior Street that specialized in pianos and sheet music. In 1894, he and his wife Catherine built a large house on Woodland Hills Avenue (later Woodhill Road) that would later become the home of East End Neighborhood House. Source: Cleveland Centennial Commission, Woman's Dept. Album of the Western Reserve Centennial. Cleveland: E. H. Clark & Co., 1896. Cleveland Public Library.
J. T. Wamelink Homestead and Subdivision, 1898 This 1898 atlas map detail shows the triangular subdivision that Wamelink developed to the west of present-day Woodhill Road and the Wamelink homestead to the east. Source: Cleveland Public Library Map Collection
Ad for Charity Performance at Colonial Theater The Colonial Theater held a charity performance of The Three Lights, a stage comedy starring Australian actress May Robson, 1911 to benefit the East End Neighborhood House. Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 1, 1911
East End Neighborhood House Training Garden In the mid-1910s, East End Neighborhood House operated one of several "training gardens" in Cleveland at Woodland Avenue and East 93rd Street. Training gardens offered instruction in basic gardening techniques for schoolchildren to promote healthy eating, exercise, and fresh air. Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 19, 1915
Archery Practice Many clubs and activities were available for children at the East End Neighborhood House. Archery was taught by Mrs. Mildred Fahy to (L to R) John Cubar, Joseph Seab, Dennis Centivany, Adrian Patterson, and John Pekarcik. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Cleveland Memory Project.
Athletic Programs Athletic programs such as football were offered at the East End Neighborhood House. The coach was Bill Barnick, who is pictured here with (from Left to Right) William Brewer, John Timko, Anthony Marotta, and Jackson Brewer. Individuals in the community offered their talents to the organization in order to offer programs that taught children and bound the community together. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Cleveland Memory Project.
Healthcare for Neighborhood House Children Healthcare for the children was a focus at the East End Neighborhood House. Dr. Macy is shown giving vaccinations to twin girls, Helen and Olga Czapsky. The organization played a very important role in giving children services that would otherwise not have been attainable. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Cleveland Memory Project.
A Family Reunion Children enjoyed holiday parties and other fun celebrations. The children enjoyed time with their friends and were offered a stable environment that they might not have received anywhere else. Children and community members who attended or were connected with the Neighborhood House became a part of a big family. When the East End Neighborhood House celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1982, the feeling was that of a family reunion. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Cleveland Memory Project.
Teaching Customs Teenagers were offered clubs and activities at the East End Neighborhood House. In one group, young people met to discuss social customs and dating. Immigrant families were offered a way in which their children could learn about their environment in a way that sometimes went beyond the parents' capabilities. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Cleveland Memory Project.
The Fellow Ship Bus By 1977, the East End Neighborhood House acquired their own bus to help with transportation for their programs, entitled the Fellow Ship. Court Morey won the contest that was promoted by the East End Neighborhood House for the naming of the bus. He was congratulated by a councilman, David Strand, and the board president, Ray Sawyer. A bottle of champagne was broken to celebrate the event that would allow the group to reach a greater number of individuals in the community. The acquisition of a bus was an important event that demonstrated a growing need for Cleveland settlement houses. The West Side Community House acquired their school bus in 1961 to help with their daycare services, and Hiram House gained their bus by 1946 to help with their camps and many programs for children. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Cleveland Memory Project.

Location

2749 Woodhill Rd, Cleveland, OH 44104

Metadata

Jessica Poiner, “East End Neighborhood House,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 26, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/372.