History of Immanuel Lutheran Church Zion Evangelical Church

Merrick House History

June 25th, 2007

oldmerrickhouse1920s.jpgThe first building was at W. 11th St. and Starkweather Ave.  What you see is the original building.  The present building, built in 1949 is located at 1050 Starkweather Ave.

ORIGIN:  At the close of World War I, the once restricted “University Heights” district located on the bluff of the west bank of the Cuyahoga River had gradually changed.  Often marked by poverty, its homes were neglected, unpainted, and unrepaired.  Isolated by a river gully and a web of railroad tracks, the district became known as Tremont Area.

Poles, Russians (editors note: most likely they were Rusyns), Ukrainians, Slovaks, Germans, Irish, and people of many other nationalities lived in the congested area.  Census studies showed 144 persons per net acre as compared with 22 for the city as a whole.  Recreation facilities were inadequate.

In this area came Merrick House in 1919.  Founded under the auspices of the National Catholic War Council as a part of its post-war reconstruction work, it was a settlement and a day nursery doing non-sectarian work under Catholic auspices.  In 1923, its first headquarters was purchased with funds from the Catholic Charities Corporation.

The name “Merrick House” was taken in honor of Miss Mary Merrick, founder of the National Christ Child Society, in recognition of the interest and service given by the Cleveland Christ Child Society.

GROWTH:  Merrick House opened early in September of 1919 as a “Community center for the cosmopolitan residents of the Tremont School District”.  Merrick House constantly changed its program to meet the needs of the time and grew increasingly important in the area.  Merrick House activities and services went beyond the work in the settlement and nursery.  It sponsored group activities, various classes, gymnastics, music, sewing and crafts courses.  It functioned as an aid for neighborhood immigrants.  Over the years it has cooperated with churches, schools, and social agencies in broad community programs.

In the 30 years after its founding, although new opportunities for recreation were offered, parents and children continued to attend Merrick House in such increasing numbers that the old buildings were deemed inadequate.  Bishop Hoban, recognizing the need for better facilities, erected the newer structure of brick with stone trim on the site of the old buildings.  It is a modified colonial in design and embraces three complete activity floors.

Merrick House founded the Tremont West Development Corporation in 1979.  By the 1990’s, Merrick’s programs included youth counseling, a gym program, sponsorship of community projects, as well as one of the largest adult education programs in the county.

Information from their archives and used with permission from Merrick House.

Entry Filed under: Buildings

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. heidi buggele  |  March 23rd, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    It’s a dull day when you don’t learning something. I enjoyed the history lesson of the Merrick house and how you helped the tremont community with your helpful programs to young and old.

    Keep up the good work!

  • 2. E Wronski  |  June 12th, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    when my brother and i were very young, the merrick house staff often had summer programs…i remember making a fish with an old nylon stocking and wire hanger…the young girls who volunteered there helped us to paint and decorate them. Some days, we all got to go the cleveland zoo on the bus as a group. It was wonderful, especially when you were an immigrant kid from the 60’s and your mom and dad were both working two jobs. I want to thank those young volunteers (if any of them read this). I’ve been a teacher for over twenty years (in cleveland) and when i feel like things get too hard, I remember the kindness that was shown to me and how important it is to give back.

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