The BOHEMIAN NATIONAL HALL, built at 4939 Broadway Avenue in 1896-97 by CZECH immigrants, reportedly was the first hall in the city owned by a nationality group. Planning for the building began in 1887, when Lodge Bratri v Kruhu called upon local freethinkers to erect a hall. The fundraising and planning were led by VACLAV SNAJDR, editor of DENNICE NOVOVEKU (Morning Star), and the effort involved not only Czech freethinkers but also most of the organizations in the Czech community. Design of the building was begun by ANDREW MITERMILER and John Hradek and completed by the Cleveland firm STEFFENS, SEARLES AND HIRSH. The cornerstone was laid on December 20, 1896 and the hall was dedicated on September 26, 1897. The building served as a meeting place for lodges, societies, and drama clubs. Classrooms to teach Czech were added in 1911. On October 22 and 23, 1915, the hall witnessed the historic signing of the landmark CLEVELAND AGREEMENT, calling for an independent, federal republic for the Czechs and the Slovaks. The document ultimately set the stage for the establishment of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918. Notably, in October 2018, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia's independence, the lobby of the hall was dedicated in honor of the Cleveland Agreement. Tomas G. Masaryk, founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, spoke in the hall in 1907, and again in 1918. By 1919, 73 societies met regularly at the hall. The Bohemian National Hall was managed by the Patronat, a board consisting of two delegates from each of the societies that owned stock in the building. In June 1975, the building was sold to American Sokol Inc., which deeded it to SOKOL GREATER CLEVELAND GYMNASTIC AND EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATION, INC. Major restorations began through a combination of volunteer hours and funding from the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION and the Ohio Historical Society. The hall continued to host Sokol meetings, gymnastic events, lodge functions, Czech schools, and other Czech-oriented cultural events. In 1977, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Finding aid for the Bohemian National Hall Records. WRHS.
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