The South Side Lemko Hall

Pilgrim Congregational Church, its founding and early years

April 4th, 2007

Pilgrim church exterior2592 W. 14th St.  In 1850 there were just five families in University Heights (as Tremont was known at the time). These five families were Branch, Kellogg, two Aiken families, and the Hadlow family. These original families are of interest because they have been connected with Pilgrim Church. In 1854 a Sunday school was started.  In 1857 Mr. Hadlow brought his pastor, Rev. William H. Brewster, home with him. At that time Mr. Hadlow was connected with a Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church on Euclid Ave.  Rev. Brewster would preach in the little school house on the site of the present Tremont School. He and Mr. J. G. , Jennings, Cleveland Heights Sunday School Superintendent, conducted a Sunday school in the same place. People felt the need of a church of their own, and gatherings were held at the Jennings’ home located on Scranton Avenue. Congregationalism was settled upon. On November 13, 1859, the “University Heights Congregational Church” was declared organized. Mr. Hadlow, known as”Father Hadlow”, was the very founder of the church. Brewster Pelton and Jennette, his wife, were most loyal helpers and supporters.  Mr. and Mrs. Jennings  gave liberally as well.

In 1858, Professor Humiston, already well known in the city of Cleveland as a teacher of exceptional ability, was induced to open a school in the former “University” building.   The school was known as “Humiston’s Cleveland Institute.”  In approximately 1860, he offered the use of Humiston Institute for church services.  Sunday school and prayer meetings were held in the school house.  After five years the church numbered only forty-eight, and was still holding preaching services in the Institute, but planning for a new building.  Mr. Pelton gave two valuable lots on the corner of Jennings Ave. and Howard Street, and in the spring of 1865 the building was begun. In the fall of 1869 the “Connecticut Colony” arrived, including three new families who brought greatly needed elements of strength, both personal and financial. In previous years, Thomas H. Lamson was most generous to the church as was his brother Isaac P. Lamson and his partner, Samuel W. Sessions.  In 1883 the name of the church was changed to Jennings Avenue Congregational Church, which name it bore until June 17th, 1892 when the present and final name of Pilgrim Congregational Church was chosen.

In November, 1891 a movement began for a new building. On April 5, 1893 a crowd gathered to take part in the breaking of the ground. Present were Deacon J. G. Jennings, Mother Hadlow, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Olney, to whose generosity the Church owed so much. In November, 1894, the structure was completed.  The original church was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and became St. Augustine Catholic Church.

Sources:  Seventieth Anniversary, History and Year Book, Pilgrim Congregational Church and Tremont West Development Corporation

Entry Filed under: Churches

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