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.