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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UNION GOSPEL PRESS BUILDING

UNION GOSPEL PRESS BUILDING

The UNION GOSPEL PRESS BUILDING, located at Jefferson Avenue and West 7th Street in TREMONT, is actually a 175,000-square-foot complex composed of fifteen interconnected buildings and encompassing over two acres. The site on which the historic building stands originally housed CLEVELAND UNIVERSITY, the city's first institution of higher education, from 1851 until 1853. Dr. Ransom F. Humiston purchased the vacant quarters of the university in 1858 and operated the HUMISTON INSTITUTE, a college preparatory school, for eleven years. In 1869, the Western Homeopathic College (formerly the Western College of Homeopathic Medicine) purchased the institute and established the Homeopathic Hospital College there a year later. The site changed owners once again in 1907 when the Gospel Worker Society, a nondenominational missionary ministry, moved its headquarters and publishing house from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to Cleveland. Reverend William Brunner Musselman, a Mennonite preacher from Pennsylvania, led the missionary society to Cleveland and oversaw the alteration and expansion of the existing infrastructure to suit the needs of the women missionaries who worked and lived on site. The Gospel Worker Society published Christian-themed magazines, such as the G.W.S. Herald, and Sunday school literature in its Herald Publishing House. In 1922, the society rechristened its publishing house, the Union Gospel Press, endowing the building complex with its historic identity. To meet the increasing demand for its publications, the missionary society relocated to a modern, one-story building at Brookpark Road and Broadview Road in 1950. The empty Union Gospel Press building became a flophouse for artists and vagabonds until the 1980s when Joe Scully, a boxer turned metal sculptor, bought it for $74,000. Throughout the years, numerous developers expressed an interest in acquiring the complex from Scully and transforming it into a mixed-use retail and residential development. However, Scully's asking price and the magnitude of the project hindered their initiatives.

In June 2003, Corvallis Development Company, headed by Myrl and Stavros Roberts, purchased the Union Gospel Press building from Scully for $1.4 million. With the state providing nearly $4.4 million in tax credits to the project, the historic building underwent a $21 million renovation by the Cleveland-based Sandvick Architects, Inc. The architects preserved the original brick exterior and some of the century-old fixtures inside the Union Gospel Press building while transforming the structure into a modern, upscale apartment complex. Tremont Place Lofts, a luxury 102-apartment community, opened in 2009.