Immaculate Conception at East 41 and Superior Avenue
In the 1850's Catholics living around 41st Street worshipped at a small chapel in back of St. John Cathedral; the church was known as the Church of the Nativity. It had no resident pastor; masses were said by priests from the Cathedral and also St. Mary Seminary. In 1855 the building was moved to 41st Street and given the name of the Immaculate Conception. It initially was a mission, then gained the status of a parish in 1865 when it received its first pastor. In 1872 another larger wooden structure replaced the former church. The cornerstone of the present church was laid in August of 1873 and dedication ceremonies took place in May of 1885. There was much unemployment in 1893 because of a depression. Between 1885 and 1898 the towers were completed and a bell tower was added. The church is noted for its Munich windows and imported stations as it rises to a height of 149 feet. Here, James McCafferty and Catherine Garvey were married and Bryan Ward's funeral took place.
St. Bridget at 2508 East 22nd Street
This church, too, was founded as a mission church from the Cathedral in 1857. A resident pastor was appointed in 1864. Groundbreaking for a new church took place in 1871 but was delayed because of costs. Much of the labor on the church was performed by the men of the parish at night, after finishing work at the steel mills. The first mass was said in the basement on Christmas of 1877, and two years later the structure was completed. Rapidly changing population trends in the early years of the 1900's depleted many downtown parishes, St. Bridget being one of these. The church was merged with the Italian church, St. Anthony in 1938. Soon afterwards St. Bridget church was torn down. It was located across from Charity Hospital. Here Bridget Stanton and John Gill were married on May 6, 1889.
St. Ignatius at Lorain and West Boulevard
The parish of St. Ignatius was created in 1902 and a small church was built. An auditorium was begun in 1913 and opened up two years later as the parish church. The cornerstone for the present church was laid in 1925 and the first mass was said in the lower church in August of 1927
(the upper church was not finished until 1930). The style is similar to that of St. Joseph Church in Canton, Ohio--modeled after one of the churches in Rome. It is in the Romanesque tradition with a Byzantine influence. It is noted for its slender marble columns, tall minaret-like campanile, and jewel like stained-glass windows. This was the parish church and school of the Patrick and Helen McCafferty clan.
St. Patrick on Bridge Avenue
This parish, called the mother church of Cleveland's west side, was founded in 1853, 6 years after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland was established. One of the oldest parishes in the diocese, it originally served a largely Irish population. A brick church on two lots on Whitman Ave. was dedicated on Christmas 1853 and consecrated in 1857. The present (1995) building on 3602 Bridge Ave., west of Fulton Rd., was begun in Aug. 1871 and completed over the next several years. Sanctuary, sacristy, tower, and stained-glass windows were added in 1913, and the Gothic stone church was finally consecrated on St. Patrick's Day 1931.
During its first year, the church housed a boys' school. A girls' school, taught by the Ursuline Sisters, was opened at Franklin Circle. In 1863 a new hall on Whitman Ave. housed the girls' school; an even larger school opened in Aug. 1891. In 1903 St. Patrick's was reportedly the largest elementary parochial school in Ohio, with 1,800 children. The school ceased operation in 1976, when it was merged into the Urban Community School at St. Malachi parish. The building was razed in 1978.
St. Malachi Church on W. 25th Street
ST. Malachi Church was organized in 1865 out of the large St. Patrick’s parish, to place an Irish parish closer to residential sections on Cleveland's near west side. Fr. James Molony was the first pastor (1865-1903). The congregation met at St. Mary’s on the Flats until their brick Gothic building was completed at Washington Ave. and Pearl (W. 25th) St. It was dedicated in Mar. 1871. The building was known for its statuary and a tall spire and illuminated cross, visible to Lake Erie sailors. In 1867 the first parish school was built, and a former public school purchased soon after for a separate boys' school. A new building was built for the girls' school in 1885. The Ursuline Sisters taught girls only until 1914, when they took over all classes on the departure of the Christian Brothers. In 1916 the French-speaking Annunciation parish merged with St. Malachi's.
After a peak of 2,000 families early in the century, membership fell to 60 families by 1928. The construction of Lakeview Terrace added 620 neighborhood families, half of which were Catholic. By 1938 St. Malachi's membership had climbed to 400 families, and the school was renovated. A fire destroyed the church building on 23 Dec. 1943, and a new brick and stone Gothic church was built on West 25th and Vermont, on part of the original lot, in 1945-47, and dedicated in 1947. The parish school, along with that of St. Patrick’s combined to form the new Urban Community School in 1968, still under the direction of the Ursulines (in 1976 the school building at St. Wendelin parish was incorporated into the Urban Community School, replacing that of St. Patrick's).