Filed Under Religion

Saint Paul's Episcopal Church

St. Paul's Episcopal Church emerged in 1846, beginning in rented space until its first dedicated building opened in 1848 at the corner of Sheriff Street (now East 4th) and Euclid Avenue on the site of the present-day House of Blues. Following a devastating fire, the church rebuilt a brick Gothic edifice that opened three years later. As commercial expansion accompanied the emergence of downtown Cleveland in what had formerly been a compact walking city, St. Paul's moved in 1876 to a newly built Gothic church at the corner of Case Street (now East 40th) and Euclid, squarely within Cleveland's famed "Millionaires' Row." This church was designed by Gordon W. Lloyd, an English-born Detroit architect who also designed many other Episcopal churches in the Midwest. At its new location, St. Paul's expanded impressively and even spawned several other new congregations as it grew.

By the 1920s many St. Paul's parishioners had moved eastward into the nearby suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. In 1928 the church followed suit, choosing a site on the eastern edge of Barton Deming's Euclid Golf allotment at the corner of prestigious Fairmount Boulevard, the "Euclid Avenue of the Heights," and Coventry Road. The new building, designed by J. Byers Hays of Walker and Weeks in the English Gothic style, was erected of Indiana limestone. On its departure, its previous building was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and reopened in 1931 as St. Paul's Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. In more recent years the building has served as home to multiple Catholic orders rather than as a diocesan church.

In Cleveland Heights, St. Paul's continued to grow, but its building remained unfinished, a casualty of the onset of the Great Depression. Originally to include a large nave for worship services, St. Paul's made do until 1951 with holding services in its parish hall. By the time the church raised sufficient funds to build the Gothic nave it had envisioned back in the 1920s, its leaders opted instead to follow an emerging trend toward fashioning naves in the manner of the early Christian church, in which ornamentation was spare and the altar was moved closer to the congregation.

By the early 1960s St. Paul's flourished under the energetic leadership of Dr. Chave McCracken. During McCracken's tenure as rector, St. Paul's became more consciously inclusive. In spring 1963 it hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave one of the speeches leading up to his famed Lincoln Memorial address later that year. Church membership reached its peak in the 1960s, with the main Sunday service splitting into two services to handle the growing parish. Years later, following a downward trend in the Heights population and in membership in mainline Protestant denominations, St. Paul's returned for a time to a single service. More recently, it restored the separate services as part of a determined effort to attract young families.

Today St. Paul's remains a vibrant part of Cleveland Heights and, with some 1,400 parishioners, is the largest Episcopal congregation in the Diocese of Ohio.


St. Martin's Chapel Parishioner Pete Scriven describes how St. Martin's Chapel at St. Paul's got its name. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Seeing Martin Luther King Jr. at St. Paul's Parishioner Pete Scriven recalls the day he saw Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speak in the St. Paul's nave in 1963. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Committed to Civil Rights Parishioner Pete Scriven recalls the commitment of St. Paul's rector Dr. Chave McCracken and his curate David Ernest to civil rights. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
"We're Open on Sundays Too!" Parishioner Pete Scriven remembers the magnetism of youth minister Tony Jarvis in the 1960s. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Rev. Charlotte Dudley Cleghorn Parishioner Pete Scriven recounts the story of how the first female priest on staff at St. Paul's came to be hired. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


St. Paul's in Winter
St. Paul's in Winter Designed by J. Byers Hayes of Walker and Weeks, St. Paul's is one of two historic churches at the corner of Fairmount Boulevard and Coventry Road. The nave, completed some 23 years after the rest of the church, stands at right in this photo. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
St. Paul's, Ca. 1901
St. Paul's, Ca. 1901 Around the turn of the last century, St. Paul's was one of more than a half-dozen large stone churches that served Cleveland's "Millionaires' Row" along Euclid Avenue. St. Paul's occupied this building at Euclid and Case (now East 40th) for more than half a century before following its many parishioners into the Heights in 1928. Image courtesy of Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
St. Paul's Shrine
St. Paul's Shrine In 1928, St. Paul's moved to Cleveland Heights. Three years later its Euclid Avenue building reopened as St. Paul's Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. Today the building contains the Church of the Conversion of St. Paul and hosts the Capuchin Franciscan Friars, Poor Clare Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and Secular Franciscans. The old church, like several others on Euclid Avenue, stands today as a reminder of a time when it anchored Millionaire's Row. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
St. Paul's Construction, Fall 1927
St. Paul's Construction, Fall 1927 In this scene, the house in the background, then fairly new, is the one known to parishioners as Coventry House. Purchased by the church in 2010, it underwent a renovation to serve as church offices and meeting rooms, opening in 2012. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
Wedding in Parish Hall, 1947
Wedding in Parish Hall, 1947 This wedding ceremony took place in what is now called Tucker Hall. Prior to the completion of the new nave in 1951, all church services were held in this much smaller space. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
Interior Construction
Interior Construction This construction scene shows wooden scaffolding in the nave prior to completion. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
Nave Dedication, 1951
Nave Dedication, 1951 On March 11, 1951, St. Paul's dedicated its new nave. Originally envisioned as a High Gothic nave when the architect drew plans for the church in the 1920s, by the time the parish could afford to build the structure, it opted to seize upon an emerging trend in the Episcopal Church--mimicking early Christian basilicas. Well ahead of most Episcopal churches, St. Paul's placed its altar rail much closer to the pews than had previously been done. Note too that the pipe organ had not yet been installed in this view. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
McCracken Entrance, 2012
McCracken Entrance, 2012 In 2011 St. Paul's reconfigured its entrance along its side driveway to provide wheelchair access and a more welcoming reception area and main office. Designed by the firm of Westlake Reed Leskosky, the project had only minimal impact on the historical integrity of the original exterior. Image courtesy of J. Mark Souther
Dedication of Restored Tucker Hall, 2012
Dedication of Restored Tucker Hall, 2012 Tucker Hall was built with the rest of the new St. Paul's in Cleveland Heights in 1928. Originally intended to serve as the parish hall, its use as a temporary sanctuary stretched nearly a quarter-century until the present nave was completed. Following a remodeling in 1991 to create new office space, it was renamed for the Right Rev. Beverly Tucker, bishop of the Diocese of Ohio in the 1930s-40s. More recently it underwent a restoration to fulfill its original function after offices moved next door to a Tudor-style home on Coventry Road purchased by St. Paul's. Image courtesy of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.


2747 Fairmount Blvd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44106


J. Mark Souther, “Saint Paul's Episcopal Church,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 23, 2024,