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WOODLAND HILLS COMMUNITY (UNION) CHURCH

WOODLAND HILLS COMMUNITY (UNION) CHURCH

WOODLAND HILLS COMMUNITY (UNION) CHURCH, located at E. 94th and Ramona Blvd., resulted from a 1925 merger of the Woodland Ave. Presbyterian (1872-1925) and Kinsman-Union Congregational churches (1884-1925), one of the first mergers of PRESBYTERIANS and CONGREGATIONALISTS in Cleveland. Woodland Ave. Presbyterian began as the Mayflower Sunday School, organized in 1853 at the corner of Orange and Mayflower streets. In 1855 it became a mission of the Second Presbyterian Church. A building was erected on property given by JOSEPH PERKINS of Euclid Ave. Presbyterian Church (later part of the CHURCH OF THE COVENANT). Under the superintendencies of TRUMAN P. HANDY, DANIEL P. EELLS, and Charles J. Dockstader, the school flourished, and for many years it remained a mission school, one of the largest Sunday schools in the city. An organizational meeting for a church was held in the autumn of 1870 at Willson School House; on 18 Jan. 1872, the society formally organized at the Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum. A lot was purchased and a chapel erected at E. 46th and Woodland Ave., an affluent neighborhood. A Sabbath school was formed, which incorporated the Mayflower Mission School. The church officially organized on 18 Apr. 1872 with 54 members, some from Second Presbyterian and some from Plymouth Congregational Church. SOLON L. SEVERANCE was among the first elders. The first pastor, Rev. E. P. Gardner, was installed on 30 June 1872; he served until 1876.

On 17 Nov. 1878, a new church building was dedicated, and the chapel became the adjoining Sunday school and was soon among the most frequently used meeting places in the city. Professor ALFRED ARTHUR organized his celebrated Bach Singing Society there. During Dr. PAUL SUTPHEN's pastorate (1886-93), the church grew to 4th in size among more than 600 Ohio Presbyterian churches. Growth slowed as the congregation moved eastward. Woodland Ave. Presbyterian Church began ministering to Cleveland's growing immigrant population. Rev. Joel B. Hayden from Baltimore assumed the pastorate in June 1917, and in Oct. 1918 Rev. FRANK T. BARRY came from Chicago as asst. pastor. The church furthered its community ministry among various national and racial groups with the formation of the Woodland Center Neighborhood House. Following World War I, blacks (see AFRICAN AMERICANS) began to move into the area. Rev. Hayden resigned in 1923 to become pastor of FAIRMOUNT PRESBYTERIAN in CLEVELAND HTS. Rev. Barry served as pastor through the 1925 merger. Woodland Center closed during 1925-27, and Barry served as its director when it reopened. Woodland Ave. Presbyterian was razed in 1938, but Woodland Center served the neighborhood until 1941, when it moved to 7100 Kinsman Ave. (becoming Garden Valley Neighborhood House in 1958).

Kinsman-Union Congregational Church began in 1852 as the Orange St. Society. It later became a Congregational church, under the direction of Rev. Frank M. Whitlock (1884-87). Several mergers followed, and in 1895 it became the Kinsman Rd. Congregational Church. In 1914 it merged with the Union Ave. Congregational Church to form Kinsman-Union Church, and a new building was erected on Kinsman Rd. near E. 93rd St. Following the merger, Rev. Barry served as pastor until his retirement in 1944. Dr. Guy H. Volpitto followed Barry (1944-51). The congregation voted to close the Woodland Hills Community (Union) Church 31 Dec. 1976.


See also RELIGION.