The SOKOL GREATER CLEVELAND GYMNASTIC AND EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATION, INC., the only remaining Czech Sokol organization in the Greater Cleveland area, came into existence in May 1976 when Sokol Tyrs officially changed its name. Sokol Tyrs was formed on July 20, 1919 by John Sebek and John Fencl in the new Czech settlement in Cleveland's MOUNT PLEASANT neighborhood. Originally named Sokol Jan Amos Komensky, the group joined the national American Sokol Organization on May 22, 1920 and became Sokol Tyrs in 1926. It dedicated its new hall at East 131 Street and Melzer Avenue on April 27, 1927. By 1969 Sokol Tyrs had 348 members and 191 gymnasts.
Sokol Tyrs had organized several clubs which needed meeting facilities: a Sewing Club (1928), a concert band (1957), a Junior Hobby Club (1959), and a Little Theater Group (1959). Sokol Tyrs and another local Sokol organization, Sokol Nova Vlast (New Fatherland), formed American Sokol Inc. in 1965 to raise funds to build a new Sokol hall and community center. Formed on February 19, 1892, Sokol Nova Vlast met in the Czech Sokol Hall (Ceska Sin Sokol) at 4314 Clark Avenue. It had 133 male and 95 female members in 1919 and its membership had grown to nearly 600 adult and junior members by 1935. In the 1950s and 1960s, its membership was about 170. In June 1975, American Sokol Inc. bought the BOHEMIAN NATIONAL HALL, located at 4939 Broadway Avenue, and deeded it to Sokol Tyrs. Volunteers from all the Sokol units in the Greater Cleveland area lent a hand in the renovation of the hall.
In 1976, Sokol Tyrs incorporated Sokol Nova Vlast (New Fatherland) and then adopted a new name, Sokol Greater Cleveland Gymnastic and Educational Organization, Inc. By 1985, the group had 550 adult members and about 250 children who regularly took part in activities. The Sokol Greater Cleveland sent a gymnastics team to Prague for an exhibition in June 1994, the first such event since 1948. It also hosted and sponsored a diplomatic delegation from the Czech Republic in January 1995. By 2003, Sokol Greater Cleveland had 456 adult members and about 132 children who regularly took part in the group's activities.
FERDINAND JIRSA Papers, WRHS.
FRANK J. BARDOUN Papers, WRHS.
LEDBETTER, ELEANOR E. The Czechs of Cleveland (1919).