German Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

Germans Started Old Folks' Home

"100 Years of Nationalities in Cleveland"
Eighteenth of a Series
By Theodore Andrica
Cleveland Press, date unknown

Eighty-six Cleveland German women, comprising the West Side Frauenverein, with $233 in their treasury, started the Altenheim, German old folks' home at 7719 Detroit Ave. in 1887.

They held their first meeting for this purpose on Aug. 9 1886, in the Socialer Turnverein. Leaders of the idea included Mrs. Louise Zuelling, Mrs. Jacob Mueller, Mrs. Louise Schlather, Mrs. Karl Schmidt, Mrs. E. Ackerman and Mrs. Charles Ranch.

Bazaar followed bazaar and countless activities were pursued by these women to raise money. They succeeded in interesting a group of German businessmen to give larger donations and on treasury showed $8,051.

These original benefactors included Louis Schlather, J. C. Weideman, Hans Tiedeman, C. G. Gehring, Isaac Leisy, G. V. Muth, Charles Ranch, John Meckes, Mrs. C. Stolz, Mrs. J. Baehr.

With $8,000 in the bank the brave women bought a large plot at the present address for $11,000 and proceeded to raise more funds.

The Walworth Run Bridge Club, the East Side Frauenverein, Mrs. Shlegel, the German Day Committee and the Plattdeuscher Volkfest Committee were among new donors.

With $12,125 in the bank and with Hans Tiedeman as chairman of the building committee, the erection of the home was started and the cornerstone was placed on Sept. 4, 1891. Jacob Krausz helped collect more money among German businessmen and when the Altenhelm.was formally dedicated on Sept. 18, 1892, the cost, $22,142, was all paid.

Hospital Legacy

The idea of founding the Lutheran Hospital grew from a legacy of $4,000 left in 1895 by Mrs. Katherina L. Schierbaum, a Cleveland German woman, to the Lutheran Church for needed but undesignated services for the poor and the sick.

Consequently nine Cleveland Lutheran churches, nearly all German, formed the Evangelical Lutheran Hospital Assn. and on May 26, 1896, the Lutheran Hospital received its state charter.

First officers of the hospital at the time of its founding were the Rev. J. J. Walker, president; F. M. Leuther (father of Winfred, the former president of Western Reserve University), secretary; William Wishmeyer, treasurer; H. F. Luekens and Louis Morton, trustees.

In September, 1896, a frame house was brought at the apex of W. 2Sth and West 29th. St. on Franklin Circle and the building was equipped, rather simply, for hospital purposes.

Opened in 1896

Mrs. Clara Mueller served as matron, cook and nurse. The modest hospital opened in October, 1896, with George Zehnder as the first patient. By the end of the year the hospital had cared for 23 patients.

Of the many groups that have been faithful supporters of Lutheran Hospital from its very inception is the West Side Sewing Circle, organized on May 4, 1897. Included among the organizers were Mrs. Louise Henke, Mrs. John Grieve, Mrs. Henry Moyer, Mrs. August F. Leopold, Mrs. Lena Lange, and Mrs. A. C. Lampe.

In 1898 the Mark Hanna home at 2603 Franklin Blvd. was acquired and occupied by Lutheran Hospital and in the same year the nurses' school was established.

Acquire More Land

In 1912 the Wormington property, immediately east of the old Hanna home, was purchased for a nurses' home. The hospital grew so rapidly that the Hanna and the Wormington homes were razed to make way for a new hospital building, dedicated July 9, 1922.

Eventually additional property was acquired around the building, a new wing was erected, parking lots were made, and a new nurses' home was built. The latest addition and modernization was done last year.

Present superintendent of Lutheran Hospital is Lee S. Lanpher.