Just south of Euclid on Mayfield Rd., lies a little bit of Italy...Cleveland style. Many Italian immigrants settled here because of Lakeview Cemetery...they were stone masons and headstone carvers! For some authentic Italian food....from pizza to calamari... you have to come here. This street is filled with restaurants, bakeries, and art galleries. In August they celebrate the Feast of the Assumption....which is a party that can't be missed.
(if you travel south on Mayfield straight through Little Italy, up the hill, there's an entrance to Lakeview Cemetery!)
Since 1912, the market on the corner of West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue, has provided patrons with fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and breads, and flowers. The building is distinguished by its clocktower. Whatever you're hungry for, you'll find it here . Over 100 vendors.
St. Vitus Church, the first Slovenian Church in Cleveland was established in what is today known as the St. Clair neighborhood. The church is located at 6104 Glass Avenue and started as the center of Cleveland-Slovenian life since 1893. The church and school are still important institutions in the neighborhood.
My grandmother was baptized here, had her first communion here, was married here, and the Mass of Christian Burial was here.
Within the St Clair Neighborhood is a street called Carl Avenue. This was a typical street in the Slovenian area, which is now a more heavily black area.
The photo included here is the home my grandmother lived in for much of her childhood and teen years. It is a 2.5 story home, which up to three families lived in in the early 1900s.
It is the second home my great grandparents on my grandmother's side owned in the United States (both in Cleveland). Their first, which I have yet to find in Cleveland was a duplex, which they rented half of.
Cleveland’s first Slovenian congregation, originally organized in 1893, this church was designed by William Jansen. It was based on Romanesque-Lombard design. It holds up to 1500 people in its sanctuary.
There are two 100-foot towers topped by octagonal cupolas. They tower above the neighborhood and are quite beautiful. The way the church stands above the neighborhood reminds me of how church steeples tower above small towns in Europe.
The school and convent date from earlier in the century. St. Vitus is the headquarters of many Slovenian cultural and fraternal organizations for Greater Cleveland.
Today 6307 is run down.
Unfortunately, the later owners of the home let it fall apart and it is now condemned as a structurally unsafe property. The windows are boarded up and it is falling apart. It is sad how some people just cannot take care of a home.
The neighborhood is a little sketchy today. I saw a lot of junk (old, gross mattresses, chairs, etc.) out on the edge of the road for the garbage men to take away. A lot of the homes are in disrepair.
But, mixed among this dilapidation are recently renovated homes, cute gardens, and some nice cars. It is quite a mix within one neighborhood.
A Slovenian immigrant in 1956 Frank Sterle created the beginnings of a unique restaurant in Cleveland in 1960.
Sterle purchased a small corner cafe in Cleveland's old Slovenian neighborhood, not too far from 6307 Carl Avenue. With expansion after expansion, Frank Sterle's Slovenian Country House grew to occupy a substantial part of the block.
The restaurant is modeled after a Slovenian mountain chalet.
More in Restaurant section.
South of Rocky River and North of Parma, in Cleveland proper is a cute street called Sprecher Ave.
My grandmother lived here from just after her marriage to John Cimperman until she had to go to the hospital for the last four months of her life.
She told me a story about how a relative gave her and her husband the land in the late 1920s, so they could build their own home. Her story went on that they paid the contractors daily for work to build the home, as cash flow was tight. she said that if the workers didn't get paid for a day they stopped working until they did get paid. She said they did not miss a day.
Just up the street from St Vitus Church is a senior community for those aging Slovenes of the community. It is apartment style housing and does not supply nursing home type service. The residents are all old, but must be able to take care of themselves. This apartment community is wonderful for the aging people of the area that grew up in a safe, tightly knit community. Today, they must be concerned with robbery in the home and on the street. The apartment community is safe, new, and clean. It was a wonderful adition to the neighborhood.
I was talking to the preist that did my grandmothers funeral and he said that when he walks down the hallway of this complex he sees older Slovenian women cooking traditional Slovenian food together. He says there are smells that bring back memories of his childhood.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's a number of Slovenians immigrated to the United States looking for opportunity. As they were in their native land, Slovenians were hard workers and family oriented.
My grandmother once told a story about how the immigrants needed to be sponsored to get into the country, so many of the local Slovene tavern and business owners sponsored other Slovenes to enter the country.
Today, Cleveland is home to an estimated 80,000 ethnic Slovenes, the most in the US and perhaps the largest settlement of Slovenes outside of Slovenia. My grandmother and grandfather were born in the US from Slovene immigrants. My mother is 100% Slovene and I am 50%.
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