ST. STANISLAUS CHURCH is the mother parish for Polish Roman Catholics in Cleveland, established in 1873 to serve the growing number of POLES. It evolved into one of the city's largest churches, in what was for a time Cleveland's major Polish settlement, Warszawa. The parish had no permanent structure until 1881, meeting in either ST. MARY'S ON-THE-FLATS or ST. JOSEPH'S (German) on Woodland Ave. It was ministered to by several priests, including Fr. Victor Zareczny of St. Adalbert in Berea. In 1881, under the direction of the Franciscan community of St. Joseph's, the congregation purchased property at Tod (E. 65th) St. and Forman Ave. near the CLEVELAND ROLLING MILLS, where many congregants worked. By late 1881, St. Stanislaus had erected a wooden structure that housed both a church and a school.
On 23 July 1883, Fr. ANTON F. KOLASZEWSKI became pastor. Kolaszewski oversaw the construction of a brick Gothic church at Forman and E. 65th St., begun in 1886 and dedicated in Nov. 1891 at an estimated cost of $250,000. Designed by William H. Dunn, it featured twin 232' towers, which were destroyed by a tornado in 1909; the replacements were 122' tall. The huge debt incurred in the church's construction, as well as other charges, led to Kolaszewski's removal from the parish in 1892. He was replaced by Fr. Benedict Rosinski, who attempted to erase the debt and cope with community divisions. In 1906 the parish was returned to the administration of the FRANCISCAN COMMUNITY AND APOSTOLATE, and Fr. Theobald Kalamaja, OFM, was named pastor.
The church school, initially supervised by Franciscan nuns from Stevens Pt., WI, was given over to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1907. The parish built a school building that year to accommodate 1,500 pupils; enrollment peaked at 2,686 in 1933. In 1944 the church opened a high school, which in 1969 merged with 3 other schools to form Cleveland Central Catholic. Though a number of families left the neighborhood after WORLD WAR II, St. Stanislaus still remained viable into the 1990s, working to revitalize the community as Cleveland's SLAVIC VILLAGE.
In 1995 Rev. William Gulas, OFM, served as pastor to the parish's 1,800 households. The 1995-96 enrollment for the school, which offered classes from K-8th grade, was 400 pupils.
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Finding aid for the St. Stanislaus Church Records (1881-1968), WRHS.
Finding aid for the St. Stanislaus Church Photographs, WRHS.
See also CATHOLICS, ROMAN; RELIGION.