Historical information is limited, but what we do know comes from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. EMMANUEL CHURCH (EPISCOPAL) dates from 1871, when ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH at Euclid and Case (E. 40th) St. opened Emmanuel Chapel at Prospect and Hayward (E. 36th) streets. Still under the supervision of St. Paul’s, a new Emmanuel Chapel was built in 1874 on EUCLID AVE.. east of Glen Park Place (E. 86th St.); in 1876 it was admitted to the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio as Emmanuel Church. In 1880 the frame Gothic building was moved slightly west and enlarged. In 1889 conflict resulted in the rector and a large number of parishioners leaving the Episcopal church altogether. They formed the Church of the Epiphany, Reformed Episcopal, and built a church on the other side of Euclid Ave. A period of growth for Emmanuel followed: a Sunday school was started in 1890 and a chapel in 1892, which later became St. Alban’s Parish.
In 1900 the firm of Cram, Goodhue, & Ferguson designed a new building for the Euclid Ave. site (8604 Euclid). A late Gothic Revival structure of stone, it was built as funds became available. The first section, 6 bays of the nave and a temporary chancel, was built in 1902. The remaining 2 bays and the interior were completed in 1904. A new brick and stone parish house replaced the older wooden one in 1924, but the tower of the original plan remained uncompleted. With the sale of adjoining property, the building debt was liquidated and the church consecrated in 1926.
In Oct. of 1991, Emmanuel Church merged with Incarnation Church, an Episcopal congregation originally established in 1891 at E. 105th and St. Clair, which later moved to a building at Ramona Blvd. The combined congregation remained in Emmanuel’s Euclid Ave. building, which was renamed the Church of the Transfiguration. Incarnation’s building was sold to Damascus Baptist Church after the merger.
The Cleveland Landmarks Commission listing shows the Church to have been constructed in 1901-02. Whether it was 1901-02, or 1902-04, it is clear that the Church was built near the end of the hey-days of Millionaire’s Row, and as horse and buggy were beginning to give way to the automobile. What is not yet clear to me is the circumstances that left the Church abandoned, as if the congregation simply walked away after the final Sunday service.
The parish was in the center of great social and economic change in the neighborhood during the 1950s-1970s. To remain viable, a variety of programs were started, including tutoring, legal aid, and a hunger center serving as many as 1,900 families per month.
Deconstruction of the Narthex has begun in preparation for the demolition of the Nave and the Chancel. Photographic documentation of the deconstruction is under-way and will be posted soon. Please return to see the tedious work being undertaken to preserve the 33-foot wide Narthex for future reconstruction. If you missed Part 1, click here.