ST. JOHN CATHEDRAL was established by the first bishop of Cleveland, AMADEUS RAPPE, shortly after his appointment in 1847, to provide a more centrally located church for the city's Catholics than ST. MARY'S ON THE FLATS. Property on Erie St. (E. 9th) and Superior that had been purchased in 1845 by Fr. Peter McLaughlin was selected as the site. Bishop Rappe bought additional land on Superior and on Christmas Day 1848 opened a temporary church, the Chapel of the Nativity (later the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church), which served as a parochial school during the week. The cornerstone for the new cathedral, named for St. John the Evangelist, was laid on 22 Oct. 1848. Patrick Charles Keeley, later a nationally known church architect, designed the building in an Ornamental Gothic style; a handcut wood altar and statues were imported from France. Financial difficulties postponed completion, but on 7 Nov. 1852 the church was consecrated as a cathedral. In 1853 Bishop Rappe took over the pastorate when its first pastor, Fr. Louis de Goesbriand, was named bishop of Burlington, VT. Bishop Rappe remained at St. John until he resigned as bishop in 1870.
The growing parish opened a separate school for boys in 1857, staffed mostly by seminarians. The URSULINE SISTERS instructed girls near their convent on EUCLID AVE. A church steeple and spire was added to St. John in 1879, and the interior refurbished in 1888. That year a new school building was also constructed; it closed in 1943 because of declining enrollment. Both Bp. IGNATIUS HORSTMANN (1892-1908) and Bp. JOHN P. FARRELLY (1909-1921) considered transferring the cathedral eastward, but Bp. JOSEPH SCHREMBS (1921-1945) decided to maintain the downtown location. In 1928 he opened Sisters' College (later ST. JOHN COLLEGE) at the cathedral, to train the religious to teach in diocesan schools. Between 1946-1948, Bp. EDWARD F. HOBAN extensively remodeled the plant and added a new college building. George W. Stickle directed the exterior modernization, replacing the cathedral's original brick with Tennessee sandstone and removing the old tower; the sanctuary was enlarged to seat 1,500. In 1977 Bp. James A. Hickey again renovated the sanctuary, to conform to the requirements of the Second Vatican Council, and the church was rededicated.
Houck, George F. A History of Catholicity in Northern Ohio and in the Diocese of Cleveland from 1749 to December 31, 1900 (1903).
Hynes, Michael J. The History of the Diocese of Cleveland (1953).
Papers of St. John Cathedral, Archives, Diocese of Cleveland.