13001 Cedar Road (1998)


Grace Lutheran Church


A hundred years ago, two small groups of German Lutherans, one from the west side and one from the east side of Cleveland, met together to realize a dream. Fearful that their increasingly Americanized children would drift away from the Lutheran faith, they created a Sunday school where all the teachings would be in English. Joint classes were held in borrowed rooms at East 58th Street and Superior Avenue, but before many months the west-side membership initiated services in their own locality. Then in September a charter member of the east-side congregation announced that he had made a down payment from his own pocket on a lot at Lexington and East 55th Street. A month later, the cornerstone of Grace Church was laid. Two months later, on December 11, 1898, the first English Lutheran church in Cleveland was dedicated.


Ten years later a new brick Grace Lutheran Church was built on the same site, but first the materials on the original wooden church were donated and carted out to a new Lutheran congregation in Elyria. As the elegant mansions on East 55th Street gave way to smoky factories, many of the members moved up the hill to the eastern suburbs. J. W. C. Corbusier, an architect noted for his church designs, was chosen to "plan a building for which there should be no after regrets, one which in design and construction, arrangement and equipment, would be a source of enduring satisfaction to the congregation and which would never necessitate apology to visitors." Unexpected building delays resulted in Sunday school and services being held for almost a year at Fairfax School and in the Cedar-Lee Theater. Finally, on September 25, 1927, dedication services were held in the magnificent new church on Cedar Road.


The church is designed in the English Gothic style, with a simple exterior and a more ornate interior, as distinguished from the French Gothic style of the Church of the Saviour, also designed by Corbusier. A harmonious addition in 1965 in the Modern Gothic style was designed by Walther J. Wefel. In 1977 the buildings were landmarked by the city of Cleveland Heights.


Grace Lutheran has a long and enduring presence in Cleveland Heights, and its generous and enthusiastic support of the 1998 Heights Heritage Tour is but one of the portions of its stated mission to "embrace in witness and service our neighbors and the wider world."