The LUDLOW COMMUNITY ASSN., formed in 1957 and incorporated on 21 May 1959, is a neighborhood organization that was created to ease tensions as AFRICAN AMERICANS moved into SHAKER HTS.' Ludlow area. By the time Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, it had gained national attention for maintaining a stable, racially integrated community.
The association was named after Ludlow School (closed in 1987), located in the Shaker Heights City School District. The Ludlow area straddles the border of Shaker Hts. and Cleveland, extending southeast from SHAKER SQUARE. In 1955 it was an all-white neighborhood of about 500 homes valued at between $20,000-$50,000. That year African American families began moving in, prompting negative responses from some white homeowners, including the 1956 bombing of a black family’s home under construction. Sympathetic neighbors organized meetings, parties, block clubs and ultimately, the Ludlow Community Assn., to offset white hostility and to halt the blockbusting that encouraged white flight. Association founders included Irwin Barnett, Lewis Polster, and Gilbert Seldin who also served as trustees. By 1959 Ludlow residents included about 80-90 black families.
Although these measures helped calm fears, it soon became clear that more effort was needed to attract white homebuyers. In early 1960 the association received a $7,500 CLEVELAND FOUNDATION grant to establish a real estate clearinghouse and hire a housing director. Since realtors would not show prospective white buyers homes in Ludlow, nor banks lend them money, the Lomond Community Assn. set up its own mortgage company, the Ludlow Co., to help finance purchases of homes in the area by whites. At the same time, neighborhood committees were established to maintain and improve sanitation, traffic, building codes, and recreation facilities. Some critics argued that these actions constituted racial favoritism, but they were successful: in 1961 nine white families bought homes in the area. The Ludlow Community Assn. quickly became recognized locally and nationally as a pioneer in racial integration, and its strategies became a model for Shaker’s LOMOND ASSN. as well as for other communities. In 1967, the Shaker Communities Housing Office assumed the responsibility of the housing director of Ludlow and other Shaker community associations.
When the association celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1982, it had 300 members and about 55 percent of Ludlow residents were members of racial minority groups. From the 1990s forward the neighborhood, like Shaker Heights and other inner-ring SUBURBS, saw continuing white departures but retained greater racial balance than metropolitan Cleveland on the whole. The association kept working to maintain the harmony and quality of its multi-racial neighborhood.
In 2009, Shaker Heights gave its Martin Luther King Jr. Award to the Ludlow Community Assn. for a fund-raising concert that honored a Ludlow resident who was the victim of inter-racial violence. The association’s goals still include racial balance, but it focuses on maintaining neighborhood homes and public spaces, preserving social ties within the diverse community, and public safety. The association hosts monthly meetings on neighborhood and city issues. In 2018, its co-presidents were Kevin Lowery and Starr Hudge.
Updated by Marian Morton
See also FAIR HOUSING.