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Wed, 08.11.1897

The Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People Opens

Cedar Ave. building

*The Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People opened on this date in 1897. This facility was one of the earliest examples of a social welfare institution sponsored by Blacks for nonreligious purposes.

Incorporated on September 1, 1896, this was one of the first care facilities for Blacks in America.  Eliza Simmons Bryant, the daughter of a freed slave, was its founder. The family provided shelter and refuge for Blacks arriving in Cleveland before and after the American Civil War, and their reputation for generous and charitable hospitality to new arrivals in Cleveland is well documented.  Bryant was known for her conviction and passion. In 1893, when she was age 66, she gathered her friends for a meeting at which she spoke passionately of the plight of the helpless aged Black population in Cleveland. At that time homes for the aged did not admit Blacks.

Bryant championed her vision among her friends, the churches, and the community at large. The first home, purchased for $2,000, had no gas, no furnace and no bath.  In 1960, the Board of Trustees renamed the facility in honor Eliza Bryant.  Having completed a "century of service," Eliza Bryant Village is still a cultural anchor serving the indigent elderly of Cleveland's inner city. Eliza Bryant Village is Ohio's oldest African American social welfare institution and one of the nation's only inner city providers offering a full range of care on one site.

The original (pictured) historic building on Cedar Avenue is now owned and operated by Fresh Start, Inc.  On December 17, 1982, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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