The GERMAN CENTRAL FARM occupies more than 30 acres of land at 7863 York Rd. in PARMA. Used for meetings, picnics, and sports and cultural events, the site was established by the German Central Organization (GCO), which bought the farm in 1926 for $24,000 and created a soccer field, tennis courts, a rifle range, a swimming pool, a meeting hall, and other accommodations. By the mid-1930s, the farm was a popular meeting and recreational place for members of Cleveland's German-American community. The GCO was a social organization made up mostly of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. after World War I. It was established in Oct. 1924 by a committee of 15 men headed by Felix Schmit, an editor of the WAECHTER UND ANZEIGER. The organization was designed to help its members with matters of American citizenship, to provide them with a social center, and to provide material help to its needy members. By 1939 the GCO had 5,000 members, but the late 1930s and the war years were difficult ones for the organization. The rise of Nazism in Germany made many Clevelanders suspicious of local Germans, and of the GCO in particular. In Jan. 1942 the suspicions of some Clevelanders toward the area's GERMANS turned violent, and the German Central Farm was the target of vandalism more than once. By the time the 30-acre site celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1976, however, it was again a popular recreational area for German-Americans. It also hosted the celebrations and events of other ethnic organizations and of local businesses as well as the GCO, whose membership in the 1990s exceeded 300.

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