The building began as the Gesangverein Hall (Gesangverein appears to refer to a Cleveland German chorus), designed by notable Cleveland architect Frederick W. Striebinger. Our guide reported that it also served as a hospital for Hungarian and German immigrants and a prohibition-era speakeasy.
During the 1900’s, it was transformed into the second location for the House of Wills, one of the most successful black businesses in Cleveland of the 20th century. Catering to life as well as death, the House of Wills also served as an unusually welcoming community center/social hall for its time, when it was almost impossible for African Americans to rent a gathering place.
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