Filed Under Religion

St. Ann Church

In 1915, Father John Mary Powers was assisting at St. Thomas Acquinas parish in Cleveland when Bishop Farelly assigned him to create a parish for families residing in the village of Cleveland Heights. Fr. Powers walked up Cedar Glen from the eastern end of the streetcar line and continued roughly one-half mile beyond the top of Cedar Hill. There, at the southeast corner of Cedar and Coventry Roads he found a suitable site. He then set three goals: build a church that could serve about 40 families, construct a school, and extend the public transportation line into the neighborhood. Within four years, he had fulfilled the first mission: the new wood church would continue serving a growing Catholic community for 33 years.

Fr. Powers turned next to his school and transportation goals. An advocate of housing and residential space, he successfully argued that no commercial enterprises should border the church grounds. With this commitment from the municipal government, he then set about building his school. The three-story design technically defied city code, but Powers got around this issue by disguising the building as a two story structure. Although Fr. Powers did not achieve his dream of adding high school and college facilities, the elementary school enrolled an average of 1,250 students per year between 1954 and 1970.

On a trip downtown for a haircut in 1925, Fr. Powers stopped into the recently failed First National Bank on Euclid Avenue. According to Powers, he went into the bank to buy a desk. However, he left with myriad additional items: the rudiments of a collection that would ultimately furnish a new church. It would take 25 years to convince skeptical Cleveland bishops to approve plans for construction.

In 1948, ground was finally broken for the current St. Ann Church. Designed by Walker and Weeks, it incorporated an organ from Massachusetts Pilgrim Church; oak woodwork from one of the Hanna family mansions; marble from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Manhattan; and chandeliers, choir loft railing, columns, and brass and bronze doors from the First National Bank.

Fr. Powers remained in his leadership role for 51 years before retiring in 1966. He was a tireless promoter of fair housing, pursued interests with theater productions (The Powers Players), and guided an active greenhouse and floral enterprise for church events for many years. St. Ann Church is on the grounds of the Communion of Saints Parish in Cleveland Heights.

Audio

St. Ann Church Tower Fr. John McNulty tells of the original design of the church tower to house religious faculty for the high school intended for the parish site. It became a residence and private chapel for visiting Cardinal Mooney. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
St. Ann School Fr. Powers used shrewd strategies to accomplish his building plans. Fr. John McNulty tells of the three story schoolhouse on property zoned for two story structures. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Parish Flowers Fr. Powers raised flowers for church functions and weddings to the dismay of the local floral merchants. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Main Entrance to St. Ann Church St. Ann Church's main entrance is built in a traditional Greek style. Told to work several collected materials into the design, the Walker and Weeks architect informed Father Powers that "this place will look like a barber shop." Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities
St. Ann Church and Bell Tower The rectory was moved to make room for the church and tower which now connects all three facilities. The tower contains living spaces and a private chapel for the religious faculty that Father Powers hoped would staff his high school. Cardinal Mooney, a close friend of Powers, would often stay in the tower during his visits. Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities
Dedication of St. Ann Church, 1952 Archbishop Edward F. Hoban and several other church dignitaries attended the dedication of the new church. This photo shows Father Powers greeting his visitors at the ceremony. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection
St. Ann School St. Ann School was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by George Hunt Ingraham. It was completed in 1925 during Fr. Powers's long tenure at the church. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Main Altar of St. Ann Church Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection
Bishop Hoban Dedicates St. Ann Church In 1948, Archbishop Edward F. Hoban finally agreed to approve Fr. Powers' plans for a new church. Previous bishops had denied approval due to financial suspicions. Bishop Hoban and several other church dignitaries attended the dedication of the new church building. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection
Mural - The Immaculate Conception. Father John M. Powers, the priest st St. Ann's Church, looks at a mural copy of Murillo's painting, 'The Immaculate Conception.'" Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection

Location

2175 Coventry Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Metadata

Jim Lanese, “St. Ann Church,” Cleveland Historical, accessed January 23, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/457.