ST. JOHN COLLEGE began as Sisters' College in 1928 to train teachers to staff the elementary schools of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, and later expanded its mission to preparing nurses for Catholic hospitals. It was one of the few diocesan colleges in the U.S. Within 4 years of its opening in the old Cathedral School Bldg. at 1027 Superior in 1928, it was granted full college status and the power to confer degrees; by 1935 it was accredited by the American Assn. of Teachers Colleges. The first president was Bp. JOHN R. HAGAN. Since the college was set up to accommodate religious teachers who taught with provisional certificates while completing their education, enrollment was particularly heavy in the summer and Saturday sessions. Each of the 28 religious orders who attended the college was represented by a member of that order on the faculty, who handled any problems involving her sisters. Lay students were welcome so long as they were willing to be placed in a diocesan school after graduation. Originally offering a B.S. in education, Sisters' College added a B.S. in nursing (1947) and an M.A. in education (1939).
When the college moved into new quarters in Cathedral Square at E. 9th and Superior in 1947, Sisters' College became St. John College to reflect the broader range of students it now sought. An enrollment boom in the 1960s necessitated a new addition, but enrollment slid as the demand for teachers dropped off by the early 1970s, and the diocese threatened to withhold its subsidies. Ultimately, the nursing program, which accounted for the majority of the school's undergraduates, was moved to URSULINE COLLEGE, and the remainder of school closed in June 1975. The site is now occupied by Eaton Center, a high-rise office tower.