February 7th, 2008
In 1850 a group of prominent Clevelanders, including Mrs. Thyrza Pelton and John Giles Jennings, began plans for the founding of Cleveland University. They purchased 275 acres of land from the Kellogg, Barber and Branch farms, on the bluff overlooking the flats. One of the founders was Governor William Slade, Jr. who platted the surrounding area into a subdivision with streets bearing such intellectual-sounding names as Literary St., University St., College St., and one that would become Professor St. Next to Slade’s allotment, the university was incorporated on March 5, 1851 and one building was constructed near the corner of College and University Ave. The plan included a female seminary, an orphan asylum, and a retreat for aged persons. The residence for the president, Rev. Asa Mahan of Oberlin Institute, was also constructed on the corner of W. 14th and Fairfield. Pelton Park (now known as Lincoln Park) was established as part of the campus. The trustees included Ahaz Merchant, Samuel Starkweather and Richard Hilliard.
Asa Mahan brought students from Oberlin College. Some Oberlin faculty members came each week by horse and buggy to teach. Classes originally began in the fall of 1850 on the Mechanic’s Block on Ontario Street. Sixty-nine acres of the land was to be used for the university and part of it was for the campus, and yet another part was used to sell lots to raise money for an endowment fund. The building in what is today Tremont opened in 1851. After a full year of operation, eight degrees were awarded in June, 1852. Cleveland University began to decline rapidly the following fall. Mahan resigned on December 13, 1852 because of a clash of personalities with some of the trustees. The end of Cleveland University came after the death on February19, 1853 of Mrs. Pelton and the loss of her financial support. The university had lasted from 1851 -1853.
The building was purchased in 1857 by Ransom F. Humiston and was operated as Humiston Institute.
Entry Filed under: Buildings