Lincoln Park is the center of Tremont, one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods. This tour follows the perimeter of Lincoln Park and features many of the churches and other institutions built by (and for) successive waves of immigrants from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century.
Tremont’s monikers are almost as diverse as its churches, shops, restaurants, bars and living spaces. Originally part of Brooklyn Township, the area was incorporated between 1836 and 1854 as part of Ohio City. Around that time, the area became known as Cleveland Heights. Cleveland Heights morphed into University Heights in 1851 when plans were laid for the short-lived Cleveland University. This explains the preponderance of “academic” street names, such as Professor, Literary, College and University. After the Civil War, University Heights became Lincoln Heights to commemorate the area’s role as the site of two Union Army camps. At this time (around 1867), the neighborhood was annexed to Cleveland. Lincoln Heights later changed to South Side and, when the City of Cleveland established community development corporations (CDCs) in the late 1970s, South Side officially became known as Tremont.
The ethnic history of the Lincoln Park area (as well as Tremont as a whole) is deep. The area was settled by New England Puritans, the most wealthy of whom built mansions on Jennings Avenue (now West 14th Street) and founded Pilgrim Congregational Church. In the 19th Century the neighborhood became home to a large number of working class Irish, who founded the St. Augustine parish. In the twentieth century, immigrants from Central Europe and the Middle East, including Poles, Slovaks, Ukrainians, and Syrians settled in Tremont. These immigrants also built social clubs and community institutions, as well as more churches. A short list of structures around the park includes St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church, Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church (now a commercial entity) and Lemko Hall. To help immigrants become “Americanized,” the City of Cleveland and the Catholic Church, respectively, also built the Lincoln Park Bath House on Starkweather and Merrick Settlement House at the corner of Starkweather and West 11th.
Today, Tremont is one of several “hot” residential neighborhoods on the west side of Cleveland. But because of the many churches and other ethnic buildings around and near Lincoln Park, Tremont also has retained its distinct multicultural flavor.