German Americans of Cleveland

The Arts & Culture

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Bal Risque costumed couple
Costumed couple at the Kokoon Club's Bal Risqué, 1934.

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:

The Old Arcade
The Old Arcade.

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:

German Americans were also influential in Cleveland's classical and popular music scene. They include:

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.

Newspaper Publishing

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 Link to Press Articleserved 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:

Oktoberfest festivities.

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.