The parish of ST. STEPHEN'S CHURCH at 1930 W. 54th St. in Cleveland was established in 1869. It eventually became the largest GERMAN-speaking Catholic parish in Cleveland. The congregation was using a small brick structure in 1873 when the church that stands today (1994) was begun. CUDELL and RICHARDSON were architects of the church. The first services were held in 1876 and the church was dedicated in 1881. The church is constructed of Amherst sandstone and is Gothic in style. On the interior an organ was added in 1886, and frescoes in 1893. A redesigned tower (lacking the steeple) was added in 1907. Adjacent buildings have included a brick residence (1896), a pastoral residence (1896), and a brick school (1897).
The church is best known for its decorative interior, especially the intricate wood carving. Most of the wooden objects are white oak and were ordered from Munich, Germany, and were installed in 1893. The main altar, which won first prize at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 before coming to St. Stephen's, was also carved in Germany.
A tornado which struck this neighborhood in June 1953 damaged several stained glass windows and completely destroyed 3 of them. The damaged ones were repaired at that time. The remaining 3 were replaced in March 1993 with windows from the demolished ST. JOSEPH'S CHURCH. In 1971 St. Stephen's school was combined with St. Peter's and Lourdes Academy to become Erieview Catholic. The church became the headquarters for a HISPANIC ministry in 1970.
St. Stephen's 100th Anniversary Booklet.