Church Square

Hough's Neighborhood Shopping Center

In 1991 a derailed construction project had left an abundance of weeds and hills of mounded dirt in the vacant 19.3-acre lot that stretched from East 79th to East 84th Street between Euclid and Chester Avenues. The project to build a shopping center for east side Clevelanders had been postponed after its 1986 reveal, leading to a string of buyouts, sellouts, and revisions. However, from the efforts and dedication of NOAH (Neighbors Organized for Action Housing), the importance of the project was finally realized by the Cleveland City Council. The Church Square shopping plaza symbolized a crowning achievement in the undertaking to rejuvenate highly visible Euclid Avenue face of the Hough neighborhood.

NOAH started in response to the devastation left by the Hough Riots of 1966. The leaders of Calvary Presbyterian Church, St. Agnes Church, Glenville Presbyterian Church, and the Hough Community Council joined forces in 1968 to construct and/or advise the construction of adequate housing for the local residents of Hough. Calvary under the leadership of Rev. Roger Shoup provided the seed money to get the grassroots redevelopment project in motion. Along with Calvary's seed money, the group also obtained federal funds to jumpstart the housing project. NOAH sought opportunities to purchase land or locate buildings that could be rehabilitated. Even in the organization's infancy, NOAH envisioned that in a three-year period up to one hundred family units would be constructed or rehabilitated up to code. NOAH stood out as an organization as it championed a holistic approach towards the redevelopment of Hough and adjacent neighborhoods.

NOAH not only provided adequate family and single dwelling units for the Hough community residents. NOAH sought to rehabilitate not only housing in the area, but also the individual. Those who moved into one of NOAH's housing developments were encouraged to attend church programs and take advantage of counseling services. Church Square plaza was envisioned to complete this holistic aim of the project. Developers, from a stipulated string attached to the city council loan allocated to bail out the project, were required to hire local Clevelanders for the construction of the plaza and for permanent jobs. Church Square gave local residents, many of whom lived in NOAH housing like Rainbow Place apartments on the northwest corner of Euclid Avenue and East 79th Street, a place to seek employment opportunities.

Church Square was an important piece of a larger effort to revitalize the Fairfax and Hough neighborhoods. By 1992 the once-vacant lot on the northeast corner of East 79th and Euclid heralded the promise of economic advancement for the neighborhood. Church Square represented an important step towards achieving the successful revitalization of the Hough community. Church Square sought to provide a local and easily accessible place for community residents to do their shopping. The shopping plaza also offered middle-class shoppers speeding down Chester or Euclid Avenues from their suburban residences to downtown a quick stop to meet their consumer needs. With the promise of an influx in outside revenue and jobs for local residences, many fragile futures hinged on the success of Church Square. Today the notable hustle and bustle around the plaza symbolizes a piece of a comprehensive and successful grassroots effort to revitalize one of Cleveland's downtrodden districts.

Audio

The Impact of Church Square Karen Ault, a former member of Calvary Presbyterian Church, discusses Church Square. Creator: Sarah Nemeth Date: 2016

Images

Before Church Square This image is looking east along Euclid Avenue from the southwest corner of Euclid and East 79th Street. The original purpose for this image was to capture the Euclid Avenue street widening. However, this image also provides insight into what used occupy the space where Church Square now stands. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: 1951
Before Rainbow I This image captures the northwest corner of East 79th Street and Euclid Avenue. This corner is now occupied by apartment complexes including Rainbow I and Rainbow II. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: 1930
West Down Euclid Avenue This image looks west down Euclid Avenue. Calvary Presbyterian Church is on the left in the distance. The shops lining the righthand side of the image serve as an example of what Church Square attempted to bring back to the neighborhood. Source: Cleveland Photograph Collection, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1929
The Expanse of Church Square This image features streetcar tracks that lined Euclid Avenue. The image looks west on Euclid Avenue from the east crosswalk at East 83rd Street. Far in the distance, Calvary Presbyterian Church is detected on the skyline. Church Square today occupies the space that stretches just a bit further down from this vantage point. This image illuminates the expanse of Church Square in relation to Calvary Presbyterian Church. Source: Cleveland Photograph Collection, Cleveland Public Library Creator: Czar "Doc" Rollins Date: 1928
Calvary Presbyterian Church Calvary Presbyterian Church was one of the founding members of NOAH and later members from this church, were vital in the construction of Church Square and the Rainbow apartment buildings. Calvary Presbyterian Church still stands on the corner of East 79th and Euclid Avenue, diagonal from Church Square. Source: Cleveland State University, Special Collections Creator: Clay Herrick Date: 1975
Shopping on Euclid Avenue This image illuminates the abundance of shops and service businesses that were common on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 79th Street. After many of these businesses left, Church Square was proposed to bring a local shopping center back to the neighborhood. Source: New Life at Calvary Date: Ca. 1960

Location

Metadata

Sarah Nemeth, “Church Square,” Cleveland Historical, accessed September 25, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/774.