St. John’s is deeply rooted in the history of the region and this neighborhood. When what later became Ohio City was called Brooklyn Township, a local tavern owner recognized the desire of residents to attend church without having to cross the Cuyahoga River. He started Trinity of Brooklyn Township, which held services in private residences. In 1825, “East Side” members moved Trinity from Ohio City to a site near Public Square. “West Side” members stayed in Ohio City and named their new parish St. John's.
Designed by famous architect Hezekiah Eldridge and constructed between 1836 and 1838, the church building is an early example of American gothic revival architecture.
The city’s fortuitous location near the new canal resulted in a population and industry boom. The area’s newfound prosperity is reflected in the church’s early congregation, which included prominent politicians and industrialists.
In the years immediately following the construction of St. John’s Church, the parish became notable for its role in the Underground Railroad. According to legend, tunnels in the basement led runaway slaves to Lake Erie so they could board boats to Canada but there's no definitive evidence. However, we do know that because the bell tower served as a lookout for boats on Lake Erie transporting runaway slaves to freedom, St. John’s and the surrounding area became known to many as “Station Hope."
Just as St. John’s reflected the prosperity of Cleveland and Ohio City during its economic boom, it has also reflected political and economic struggles. Throughout the 20th century St. John’s congregation dwindled as the neighborhood changed. The parish joined the Inner-City Protestant Parish, an ecumenical effort that pooled resources of Cleveland churches. During this time, St. John’s played a strong role in the struggle against poverty and racial injustice.
During the 1970’s, Native American activist Russell Means opened the Cleveland American Indian Center in the church’s basement. St. John’s also welcomed the Metropolitan Community Church when the MCC could find no other place to meet.
As it has throughout its history, St. John’s aims to serve an ever-evolving neighborhood by listening to community voices. We seek progress through dialogue, outreach, and open-mindedness. Despite its small yet committed congregation, St. John's held its last Sunday worship service in 2007. Still, we welcome you to join us as St. John’s continues to evolve.
The Sanctuary at St. John's
Articles of Incorporation (January 4, 1835)
St. John's Episcopal Church The Institute at St. John's 2600 Church Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44113 Phone: 216-505-5690 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org You're invited to Like our Facebook Page and learn about upcoming events.
You'll find plenty of parking space near us along Church Avenue.