The Lee-Scottsdale Building

The Lee-Scottsdale Building at 3756 Lee Road is one of the oldest buildings in the Lee Road commercial district of Shaker Heights. Over the years, visitors to this four-story Romanesque and Renaissance motiffed building located near Shaker Heights' southern boundary line with Cleveland may have noticed and wondered about the meaning of the non-English words that are prominently carved into the stone entrance way to the building: "Uradoven Prvej Katolickej Slovenskej Zenskej Jednoty." The words, written in the Slovak language, translate in English to "Office of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association," and they identify the organization which erected the building in 1930.

The First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA) is one of the oldest still existent ethnic fraternal benefit societies in the United States. It was founded in 1892 by Anna Hurban at St. Ladislas Church, a Slovak Catholic Church located on Holton Avenue in the Buckeye Road neighborhood of Cleveland. Hurban was a Slovak immigrant who had settled in the Slovak ethnic enclave of this southeast side Cleveland neighborhood in the late nineteenth century. The FCSLA was organized to provide insurance benefits to Slovak women who sought financial security from the many environmental risks that faced Slovak immigrants working in and living near the industrial factories that at this time dotted the landscape in Cleveland's Lower Buckeye Road area.

The FCSLA for several decades conducted its business out of the homes of the women who served in the organization's various executive positions. However, in the 1920s, the organization's leadership decided that it was important to the organization's efficiency to establish a central office. In 1929, land was purchased on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Lee Roads and the architectural firm of Fox, Duthie and Foose was hired to design a headquarters building for the FSCLA. Construction of the building began in 1929 and was completed in 1930.

The building, which included first floor retail shops, an auditorium, and residential units on the upper floors, served as the headquarters of the FCSLA from 1930 until 1968. In that latter year, the organization moved into its new headquarters on Chagrin Boulevard. Since the late1960s, the Lee-Scottsdale building has served a variety of other retail, office and residential uses in Shaker Heights. Interestingly, in the 1970s, the Cleveland Modern Dance Association (now DANCECleveland), which is another long-standing organization managed by and devoted primarily to serving the interests of Cleveland area women, operated its dance studio out of this building at 3756 Lee Road.

The Lee-Scottsdale Building was designated an historic landmark by the Shaker Heights Landmark Commission in 1988.

Images

The Lee-Scottsdale Building

The Lee-Scottsdale Building

This four-story commercial building located on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Lee Roads was built by the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association in 1930. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Fox, Duthie and Foose and is of a combined Romanesque and Renaissance style. The general contractor for the building project was Crowell & Little Construction Co. The building has retail shops on the first floor and offices and residential units on the upper floors. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko. View File Details Page

Translating an Entrance Way.

Translating an Entrance Way.

The Lee-Scottsdale Building has an elaborately designed, central recessed round-arched entrance. On the stone facade of the entrance way are carved the words "Uradoven Prvej Katolickej Slovenskej Zenskej Jednoty," which translate from Slovak to English as "Office of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association." The words identify the ethnic fraternal benefit society that erected this commercial building in Shaker Heights in 1930. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko. View File Details Page

Slovak Coat of Arms.

Slovak Coat of Arms.

Located high on the left side of the front facade of the Lee-Scottsdale Building is this rondel of the Slovak Coat of Arms. The double cross symbolizes the Slovak people's Christian faith and the three mountains symbolize the Tatra, Fatra, and Matra mountains located in present day Slovakia and Hungary. Located high on the right side of the front facade of the building is another rondel bearing a flag with red and white stripes and thirteen stars on a blue field, which appears to be a reference to the United States of America. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko. View File Details Page

The Slovak Republic.

The Slovak Republic.

Slovakia is a small country of five million people located in Central Europe. The country was created in 1993 when Czechoslovakia, a country that had been created out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I, amicably split into two new countries--the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Slovakia was an ethnic region in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, hundreds of thousands of Slovaks immigrated to the United States, most of them settling in Midwestern industrial cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Many of the Slovaks who settled in Cleveland resided in the Buckeye Road Neighborhood. One such immigrant to this neighborhood was Anna Hurban, who, in 1892, founded the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association. View File Details Page

Women of the Board.

Women of the Board.

In 1922, the Board of Directors of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA), composed almost entirely of women, posed for this group photo. Sitting in the middle of the first row and wearing a white blouse is Anna Hurban, the Slovak immigrant who founded the organization in 1892. The organization was founded in order to provide insurance benefits to Slovak women against the financial risks that they and their families bore living near and working in the dangerous industrial factories of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Cleveland. Image courtesy of the Slovak Institute in North America. View File Details Page

Ground-Breaking Ceremony.

Ground-Breaking Ceremony.

In 1929, Slovak women and their priest celebrated the future new headquarters of the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA) in this ground-breaking ceremony. The cornerstone of the building now known as the Lee-Scottsdale Building was laid and blessed by a priest in 1929, and construction of the building was completed in 1930. The building served as headquarters for this ethnic fraternal benefits society from 1930 to 1968. Image courtesy of the Slovak Institute in North America. View File Details Page

New Headquarters of the FCSLA

New Headquarters of the FCSLA

On July 5, 1930, a dedication ceremony (shown in the photo above) was held for the newly constructed Lee-Scottsdale building, then known as the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA) Building. Cleveland Catholic Bishop Joseph Schrembs was present at the event and blessed the building. The first floor of the four story building housed retail shops, and the remaining four floors were occupied by the FCSLA. Photo courtesy of the Slovak Institute. View File Details Page

A Dance Club for Women.

A Dance Club for Women.

In 1968, the First Catholic Slovak Ladies Association (FCSLA) sold the Lee-Scottsdale Building and moved to its new headquarters on Chagrin Boulevard. Just four years later in 1972, the Cleveland Modern Dance Association, an organization which, like the FCSLA, was founded and managed by women, and which was created to served the interests of Cleveland area women, moved into the building and operated a dance studio there. The organization, which was founded in 1955 and is the oldest modern dance organization in the United States, is today known as DANCECleveland. Its current offices are at Shaker Square. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library's Press Collection. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jim Dubelko, “The Lee-Scottsdale Building,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/398.

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