From the archives of St. Stephen Parish

The rest of the story …

(From the April 14, 2019 Bulletin)

A Timeline of the Growth of St. Stephen From 1889 Till 1900

  • 1889


    Property on Scott Street (W. 57th) was purchased and the first convent was built.

  • 1893

    Upgraded Interior

    Altars, pulpit, niches and canopies for statuary in sanctuary are installed; Second re-frescoing of interior; A majority (26) of the statues are imported from Munich; Stations of the cross added; Two stained glass windows from Munich arrive to flank the High Altar.

  • 1895

    Silver Jubilee

    Except for the Tower, the church is complete.

  • 1896

    Rectory Enlarged

    At this point the Parish is serving 600 families and 800 school children.

  • 1897


    New school building begun on Scott Street (W. 57th).

  • 1899

    High School

    Land purchased on Courtland Street (W. 54th) for future High School.

Map of St. Stephen Area (circa 1880)

Showing West Cleveland to the left and the locations of Scott (W. 57th) and Courtland (W. 54th) Streets.
(click to enlarge)


The rest of the story …

(From the April 7, 2019 Bulletin)

I n order for Father Reichlin to borrow the funds necessary to continue with the construction of our new Church building during the nationwide financial panic of 1873, three of our Parishioners—Bernard Kinkelaar, John Muller and William Wissing—gave their own property as security for the loan.

In 1876, in lieu of the permanent and ornate stained glass, the first set of windows installed had a simple geometric stained glass pattern. Today, the simple stained glass window behind the pipe organ is the only vestige of this first set of windows. Once these temporary windows were in place, and despite the fact that the remainder of the interior was unfinished, the first services were conducted in the new St. Stephen Church on July 2, 1876.

The rest of the story …

(From the March 31, 2019 Bulletin)

The New Church 1873-1875

Pic 1_Proposed Design

T he rapid growth of the Parish soon made a larger structure necessary. In 1873 the present handsome structure was begun, the corner stone being laid by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Gilmour in September of that same year. At first work on the new church progressed rapidly and before the end of the year 1873 the walls were half way up. During the following year (1874) the work was continued and the walls were finished to the roof. In 1875 the building was finally under roof.

The work on the new church, so auspiciously begun in 1873, was greatly retarded by a severe financial panic which swept over the country at this time and paralyzed every enterprise that needed money for its success. These difficult times truly brought out the firmness and administrative ability of the young Pastor.

Little was done on the new church each of these years; but with the lack of work and scarcity of money, the income of the parish had dwindled. The greater part of building funds needed to be procured through loans. The result was that the parish debt swelled yet the new church was just but under roof.

First printed in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book – 50th Anniversary (1870-1920)

Pic 2_Circa 1893

The rest of the story …

(From the March 24, 2019 Bulletin)
Rev. Casimir Reichlin

O ur first church building, begun by Rev. Stephen Falk (Pastor of St. Mary’s) in the spring of 1869, was completed by May 1, 1870. On that day, Rev. Casimir Reichlin, the newly appointed and first Pastor of St. Stephen’s, celebrated the holy sacrifice of the mass in it for the first time. A fortnight earlier the school, in the lower story of the building, had been finished to a degree that it was available for the occupancy of the classes. The formal opening of the building, on May 1, was an occasion for great rejoicing among the people.

Though much credit is due to Father Falk for what he had accomplished, still, he had done little more than to make St Stephen’s a name when Father Reichlin took hold in the spring of 1870. It was estimated that the parish numbered some two hundred families. Not only was there no money in the treasury, but a debt of five thousand dollars confronted the young pastor. But, Father Reichlin was undaunted. As there was, as yet, no parish house, he made his home with one of his parishioners, Mr. Bernard Kinkelaar, who lived on Scott Street (now West 57th) close to the church. With the zeal and administrative ability hat always characterized his every action, he set to work, nobly supported by a faithful flock, to make the parish of St. Stephen’s a source of pride to the Church and to establish a congregation which should forever hold upright and unflinchingly the standard of the true faith among the people of Cleveland.

By leaps and bounds the attendance at the services conducted in St. Stephen’s chapel grew steadily and within a period of twelve months it was evident to all that the question of a permanent church was pressing. The pastor indeed ministered faithfully to the spiritual needs of his flock, but withal he did not neglect the material side of his work. Each year a fair was held which netted the parish some three thousand dollars. Early in the year of 1872 a subscription was taken up to procure funds for the building of the parish house. Two thousand dollars were gathered in this way. The house was built during the summer of 1872 at a cost of four thousand dollars. Both church and school soon became too small. As early as 1873 there were already three hundred children being cared for in the school which, until 1874, was in charge of lay teachers.

First printed in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book – 50th Anniversary (1870-1920)

The rest of the story …

(From the March 17, 2019 Bulletin)
Our First Place of Worship

St. Stephen’s parish arose from a division necessitated by the increase of St. Mary’s parish. The need of a new parish, for German speaking Catholics residing in the western suburbs, had long been felt. St. Mary’s, until the spring of 1869, was the only German parish on the West Side, and Catholics (living far to the west of it) found it difficult to assist at Mass and other religious services conducted there. Hence, even prior to the year 1869, three lots, located on Courtland Street, now 54th Street, between Bridge and Lorain Avenues, had been purchased as a site for a future church.

In April of the year 1869, the Rt. Rev. Bishop, Amadeus Rappe, commissioned Rev. Stephen Falk, then pastor of St. Mary’s, to purchase two additional lots lying on Scott Street, (57th) Street, and adjoining the property already held, and upon this site to erect a two story brick building which was to serve both as church and school for German speaking Catholics living west of Harbor Street (44th Street). Father Falk set about his difficult task with great zeal and in April of 1870 the building was ready for occupation. He himself was the architect and the guiding hand that directed the erection of this house of God. To him St. Stephen’s Parish owes its’ origin – after his patron saint the new church was named. From 1870 to 1876 the upper story of this building served as a temporary church, whilst the lower floor was divided into classrooms and used as a school.

First printed in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book – 50th Anniversary (1870-1920)