German Americans of Cleveland
The Arts & Culture
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As Artists, Musicians & Architects
German Americans of the past influenced the cultural climate of Cleveland with their contributions in art, music and architecture.
In 1876, the Cleveland Art Club boasted such painters as:
Purveyors of the avant-gard in the first half of the 20th century, the Kokoon Arts Club included at one time or another:
- George Adomeit
- August Biehle
- Carl Moellman
- Rolf Stoll
Architects of German descent took the lead in fashioning the mansions and buildings along Cleveland's boulevards and streets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of note are:
- John Eisenmann - one of the architects for the Cleveland Arcade
- Frank E. Cudell - (Go to Featured Topics page - Frank E. Cudell for a closer look )
- Charles Frederick Schweinfurth: (Go to Featured Topics page - Charles Frederick Schweinfurth for a closer look )
German Americans were also influential in Cleveland's classical and popular music scene. They include:
- Johann Beck - composer and conductor
- Ferdinand Puehringer - impressario
A number of bands, orchestras, and singing societies originated in Cleveland. Among the musical organizations with roots here were the Danube Swabian Brass Band, the German Concert Orchestra, and the Germania Orchestra.
Choral groups included the Banater choral groups for men and women, the Bavarian Men's Choir, the Frohsinn Singing Society, the United German Singers, the United Ladies and Male Choruses, and the German Youth Choir. Saengerfests, national gatherings of German singing societies, were held in Cleveland in 1855, 1859, 1874, 1893, 1927, and 1986.
Library & Archival Collections
The Western Reserve Historical Society holds a number of manuscripts and documents relating to German American organizations in Cleveland. Those wishing to learn more about local German history or trace their German American roots may find the Dr. Robt. E. Ward Collection of Americana-Germanica, also at the WRHS, of interest to them.
The German American Cultural Ctr. of the Danube Swabians at Lenau Park houses a German book collection of 3,000 titles.
See the "Ethnic Libraries" entry from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
Foreign language newspapers have always been a part of nationality life in Cleveland. Germania was the first paper of its kind to appear and Waechter und Anzeiger served the Cleveland community for many years.
Cultural & Social Organizations, Associations & Events
Organizational activities have always played an important role in the lives of Germans in Cleveland.
Today, most German organizations in the Cleveland area are included under the "umbrella" of the Federation of German American Societies of Greater Cleveland. It is the primary source for current information, German activities and events, and other organizations. Among the organizations within the Federation are:
- the Cleveland Maennerchor
- the Deutscher Musikverein
- Donauschwaben's German American Cultural Center
- Schuhplattler und Trachtenverein Bavaria
Perhaps no event is closely associated with Germans than the Ocktoberfest and in earlier days, the German American Day. Both events promoted German culture through their emphasis on German dress and customs, with parades, vendors, demonstrations, food, and music.
Physical fitness and sports were also important to the Germans. The Blue-White Tennis Club, and the Danube Swabian Soccer Club Concordia, and the Edelweiss Ski Club are organizations still active today Volwaerts Turner Hall and Germania Hall were both sports facilities built by German American gymnastic groups to host their events and serve as meeting places.
The German Central Farm was and still is a popular venue for meetings, picnics, and sports and cultural events held by the German American community in Cleveland. Located in Parma, it was established by the German Central Organization (GCO) in 1926.