History of the Friendly Inn Social Settlement

The Friendly Inn Social Settlement was established in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1874 by a number of Cleveland women which included Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Mrs. Horatio Ford, Mrs. Flora Stone Mather, and Mrs. George Worthington. They were members of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, a movement which was active in the establishment of settlement houses during that era. Following the example of the Holly Tree Inns of Boston, Massachusetts, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union founded canteens where men could congregate in the evenings, after work, in surroundings similar to those in their native European cities. However, instead of beer and liquor, food and non-alcoholic beverages were served.

The Central Viaduct area and the Haymarket district adjoined by Whiskey Hill in Cleveland were the areas inhabited by these recent immigrants. These slums contained the City's most severe poverty, the highest birth and death rates, and the most saloons. Its inhabitants were the newly arrived Italians, Slavs, Syrians, Bohemians, and Hungarians.

Three canteens were established by the Woman's Christan Temperance Union in critical areas: the Haymarket district; the St. Clair and West 11th Street district; and the Broadway and Central Avenue neighborhood. The main outpost was located at Broadway and Central Avenue. In 1888, this main outpost was dedicated as the Central Friendly Inn.

Soon the Woman's Christian Temperance Union was setting up playgrounds and a kindergarten for tenement children and organizing clubs to teach mothers and older daughters the rudiments of housekeeping and child care. The goal was to assist ethnic groups in making a smooth adjustment to to their new community.

In 1924, due to the shift in the city's population, Friendly Inn Social Settlement moved to the former home of the Excelsior Club at 3754 Woodland Avenue. It remained there until its move in 1954 to the present location at 2382 Unwin Road. The $34,000 Friendly Inn at Broadway and Central included storerooms on the first floor, a chapel which also served as a boys' gymnasium with club rooms, a carpenter and cobbler shop, offices, a lodge, and bathing facilities for men.

At the present time, the Friendly Inn Settlement continues to sponsor programs for the surrounding community, including the Fairfax, Central, and Downtown Cleveland neighborhoods. Its programs have responded to the changing demographics of the neighborhoods it serves, all of which are predominantly African American. One of its activities has been the Unreached Youth program, the purpose of which is to provide leadership to groups of adolescents whose behavior is destructive or antisocial. This program began in June of 1954. Other clubs, oriented toward athletic and social activities were formed in an effort to reduce juvenile delinquency in the area.

Marginally involved or totally non-participating families of the surrounding neighborhoods are drawn into the systems of community life through the outreach programs. Classes in upholstery, sewing, baking, furniture refinishing, physical rehabilitation, maternal health, dance, charm, and tenant aid are geared to benefit the individual, the family, and the community as a whole. Other activities, such as day camp, athletic tournaments, Head Start preschool, Montessori school, and the annual toy sale have been directed toward children. Free babysitting services are provided for mothers who participate in community activities. Senior citizens have been encouraged to join Golden Age clubs which offer arts and crafts, style shows, and community dances. Contact between various age groups has been fostered through activities which stress common community interests. The Friendly Inn Social Settlement facilities have also been used for non-associated club functions. Maternal health, community wellness, youth education, and economic self sufficiency.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for the Friendly Inn Social Settlement

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union