June 25th, 2007
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.
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