The Route: 105
Empire to Quincy

Head to 105th & Empire

Relee Lounge and Mildred’s Beauty Lounge

Relee Recreation Club, later renamed to Relee Lounge and then Relee Club (also known as Club Relee), opened its doors to members only in October 1946. Relee Recreation Club began its tenure at 8301 Central Ave, a location that previously housed Woodmen’s Hall. Relee faced some legal challenges in March 1947 when they were found to be lacking all of the requirements for bonafide private organizations. As a result, Relee’s D-4 license for alcohol sales was revoked and Relee closed their doors.

Though we have the above from Green Book Cleveland, we want to still learn more.

Scatter’s BBQ

@goldcoastunlimited on TikTok

Scatter’s BBQ was more than just a great restaurant, it was the initial operation that provided Herman "Scatters" Stephens the opportunity to expand his business. Giving him the opportunity to become the figure that would be allegedly fictionalized in the movie Super Fly.

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Cafe Society

Newspaper ad: CAFE SOCIETY Proudly Presents Skippy Williams With His ‘Sax’, Peggy Eskridge At The Piano, Macon B. Sims On His Bass Fiddle
Call & Post: March 20, 1948

Cafe Society opened in 1945 at 966 E. 105th Street. Advertising itself as “Glenville’s swankiest,” Cafe Society featured a circular bar. The club was a mainstay for jazz music into the 1980s. The building is one of the few sites on the route that still stands today, housing the Khnemu Foundation Lighthouse Outreach Center.


A little bit chicken, a little bit of dancing all happened at Dearing’s Restaurant, owned and operated by Ulysses S. (U. S. or “Sweets”) Dearing, the restaurant opened in 1944 at 1035 East 105th Street and was one of several Dearing eateries over the years. It was a 24 hour spot that provided some of the best fried chicken.

Cafe Tia Juana

B&W photo of empty cafe: round bar in center with leather booth seating around
Just after permanently closing for the last time, in 1969
Photo by Warner Thomas for The City of Cleveland, via Cleveland Historical Society

Call & Post, Cleveland's Black Weekly Newspaper wrote “Cafe Tia Juana, with its south-of-the-border atmosphere opened its doors Thursday, August 28th, and judging from the way the crowds have lined up at 105th and Massie since then, the doors are open for keeps.” Cafe Tia Juana opened in 1947 and was in operation until 1969. Cafe Tia Juana was located at 1045 East 105th Street, Cafe Tia Juana was a safe place for African American travelers as well as residents of the Glenville neighborhood to grab a drink and watch numerous jazz musicians play shows.

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Cory United Methodist Church

The Ballot or the Bullet: Malcom X
PBS’s American Experience, Season 6

Cory United Methodist Church is known for it designitation on the Civil Rights trail in Cleveland and its historical marker of the visits of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 and Malcom X in 1964. But it was first visited by W.E.B Dubois, to celebrate local organizers in their fight for equal pay. This church is an important architectural structure on 105 and continues to be key in the community.

Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church

Listen as you walk

Hear MLK Jr. speak in Cleveland in 1967, a recording found by an art teacher in 2010
Ideastream Public Media

Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church played an important role for local civil rights movements just like Corey United Methodist and it physical space was once a Jewish temple. It became well known during the civil right era for the activism, including being the headquarters for the United Freedom Movement, an umbrella organization for some of the most active and well known civil rights groups in Cleveland.

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Hub-Bub Record Shop & Realty Co.

Newspaper headline with photo in record shoP: Sugar Ray Robinson At Hub-Hub Record Shop
Call & Post: June 21, 1947

Lina Derritt opened the Hub-Bub Record Shop with her husband Robert in 1945, this space provided music to the community and was a location that Sugar Ray Robinson and other celebrities would visit while in Cleveland. Derritt, migrated from Nashville to Cleveland with her mother in 1917, and was reportedly the first independent Black female real estate broker in Cleveland, opening her Derritt Realty Co. office inside the record store in 1947.

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Empire Savings & Loans

The Empire Saving and Loan was a black-owned and operated financial institution created to resource monetarily Black folks migrating from the South. It was founded in 1911 by Herbert Chauncey at 2316 E. 55th St. with $100,000 in capital solicited from his friends. At its height, Empire Savings and Loan was managed by Chairman Howard Murrell, Judge Jean Murrell Capers' uncle. A branch eventually opened up on 105th, providing a Black-owned bank in the area.

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The Medical Associates Building

Watercolor illustration of 105 Madison building
Illustration by Ron Hill of Act 3 LLC

Also lovingly known as: The Madison.

In 1960, Robert P. Madison designed the Medical Associates Building for Black doctors whom University Hospitals and Mt. Sinai Medical Center excluded from practicing. These doctors commissioned the building to invest in and care for their community.

Madison was the first licensed Black architect in the state of Ohio, and this project was a critical project upon which he built a successful firm over six decades. His niece, Sandra Madison, operates the firm today. This location has gone through multiple evolutions since its original construction, including home to Deuteronomy Cafe before its renovation in 2018. The Medical Associates Building is now The Madison and features the ThirdSpace Reading Room on the first floor.

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Judge Jean Murrell Capers Tennis Courts

News 5 Cleveland

The tennis courts at Rockefeller Park have been a site of joy, community, and athleticism. The courts are named after Judge Jean Capers, the first African American woman to serve on City Council and a prominent tennis player, who was the oldest living member of The Forest City Tennis Club. Formed in 1912, the Forest City Tennis club has a Tri-City Tournament each year and was created by African American men in Cleveland who made their own spaces after meeting exclusion from other club

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Offroute: Jazz Temple

two black men in suits in front of a banner with a hooded figure playing trumpet, reading "Jazz Temple: Co[covered] Prophets"
Winston Willis and Dizzy Gillespie in rear of Jazz Temple Building
Willis Family Photographs/Day Street, via Cleveland Historical

The Jazz Temple was one of the many notable jazz bars in the University circle providing an interacial space to college students and east side residents, owned by Winston E. Willis. Through his connections and saviness Winston was able to get large acts to come to the space. Including legends like Miles Davis, Dinah Washington, and John Coltrane. This site was here until a bomb destroyed the building, most likely done by white supremacist.

The site is now the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland.

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Negro Industrial and Economic Union (The Cleveland Summit)

On June 4, 1967 Muhammad Ali and other Black athletes came to Cleveland to discuss Ali's decisions about the Vietnam War. You can listen to more of Ali's speech on the website. A key thing to remember is they were able to host this event because of the space that the Negro Industrial and Economic Union which sought to mainstream Black Americans into economic life.

Winston Willis Inner City Disneyland

Listen as you walk

Listen to a clip from WBUR’s Last Seen, as Ajah Hales examines the forces that punished Willis for daring to live the American dream
Excerpt from Last Seen, March 2022 (full transcript available)
Winston used his winnings to found University Circle Properties Development. His goal was simple: to put Black people in charge of what urban redevelopment looked like. Winston built a $2 million dollar empire in two years, all centered around the needs of Black people, like Boon Docks Seafood restaurant, Paymaster money exchange, WinJam Studios, Mr. John’s Haberdashery, and the Scrumpy Dump theater. By 1970, he was the largest employer of Black Americans in the midwest.

— Ajah Hales

Offroute: Petrarca Lounge

A gay bar that was frequented by Black patrons. It was 3 blocks east on, at 2216 Petrarca.

It was apparently well known in the scene at the time, but don't know as much as we would like about this site today. and we hope to learn more. If you know about this lounge, hit us up!

Offroute: Karamu House

Via Karamu House

Although off of the route (it’s about half a mile to the west if you're on the route), Karamu House, one of the oldest producing African American theatres in the country, is on Quincy. Karamu continues to be a space for artists just as it was for Langston Hughes, Ruby Dee, Ron O'Neal. Karamu’s mission is to produce professional theatre, provide arts education, and present programs for all people while honoring the African-American experience.

See what’s playing tonight and stop by if you can.

Head to 105th & Quincy



This is Native Land

Throughout this timeline we focus on Black history, but our history is tied to Native History the same way Black, Indigenous, and People of Color history is American History.


Joseph ❝Black Joe❞ Hodges guides Moses Cleveland’s survey party from western New York to Conneaut Creek in the Western Reserve. He also serves as their translator with Native Americans.


Nathaniel Doan settles the area that will become Doan's Corners, now East 105th (“Doan Street”) and Euclid Avenue.


Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves Passes

The United States ”Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves’ passes Congress. It takes effect in 1808.


Ohio Admitted to the Union as a Free State

Meaning that the slave trade was prohibited.


Ohio Passes the Black Laws of 1804

which required Black residents to have a certificate that they were free.


Ohio Passes the Black Laws of 1807

which required Black residents to have a $500 bond for good behavior and forbid them from bearing witness against a White person.


Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves

The United States ”Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves” goes into effect. It was passed in 1800.


George Peake Arrives in Cleveland

He is an agricultural innovator, and becomes the Cleveland’s first Black settler.


St. Johns African Methodist Episcopal AME Opens

It is the first Black church to open in Cleveland.


The Cleveland Anti-Slavery Society

is formed “to procure the speedy abolition of” slavery, according to its constitution.


John Brown the Barber

is among the wealthiest African Americans in Cleveland. He uses his downtown business to shelter freedom seekers before they traveled to Canada.


John Malvin Forms Black Education Committee

Cleveland leader John Malvin organizes a statewide committee to fund Black education. Ohio Black Laws excluded Black students from public schools.


Cleveland is Incorporated

It is now officially a city.


Businessman Madison Tilley

is one of five Black residents who own taxable property in Cleveland throughout the 1840s. Tilley’s excavation company grows to nearly 100 workers.


Abolitionist Fredrick Douglass

presides over National Convention of Freedmen held in Cleveland.


Cleveland Population Reaches 17,034

Including 234 free Black residents.


Abolitionist Sojourner Truth

delivers her famous ”Ain't I a Woman” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron.


The Aliened American Publishes First Issue

It is Cleveland’s first Black newspaper. It provides both local and regional news until 1855.


National Emigration Convention of Colored People

is held in Cleveland.


First “Black Belt” in Cleveland

By now, the Cedar-Central neighborhood has become Cleveland’s first Black cultural hotspot, compared to NYC’s Harlem and Chicago’s South Side.


Cleveland Population Reaches 43,000

Including 799 free Black residents.


Sara Lucy Bagby

becomes the last person tried under the Fugitive Slave Act in Cleveland federal court.


Cleveland Population Reaches 43,000

Including 799 free Black residents.


The Civil War Begins


Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing more than 3.5 million enslaved people in the Confederate states.


The Civil War Ends


The First Juneteenth

On June 19, enslaved African Americans in Texas finally receive news of their emancipation. This event is later celebrated as the Juneteenth holiday.


John P. Green

becomes Justice of the Peace. He is the first African American to hold elective office in Cleveland.


First Issue of The Cleveland Gazette

It becomes the city’s first permanent Black newspaper.


Ulysses S. ❝Sweets❞ Dearing

is born in Washington, PA.


NAACP Founded

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded for the purpose of advancing justice for African Americans.


Cleveland's Black population booms to 8,448.


The Great Migration Begins

Cleveland will become the ”Alabama of the North” during the first wave. The Migration continues into the 1940s.


Forest City Tennis Club Founded

It is now the oldest African-American tennis club in the country.


The Cleveland NAACP branch is founded.


Gas Mask Invented

Inventor Garrett Morgan invents an early gas mask and files for a patent.


Jean Murrell Capers Born

The future tennis champion and judge is born in Kentucky, as one of five children. Her father Edward Murrell will move the family to Cleveland in 1919.


Garrett Morgan’s gas mask patent is approved.


World War I Begins


Thomas W. Fleming

becomes the first African American man elected to Cleveland City Council.


Langston Hughes Moves to Cleveland

Future poet, playright, and novelist Langston (James) Hughes moves to Cleveland with this family. He begins writing seriously as a Central High School student.


Garrett Morgan Save Countless Lives

using his own patented gas mask to rescue survivors trapped under Lake Erie by the Cleveland Tunnel Explosion.


First African American Glenville Resident

The first African American moves into the Glenville neighborhood.


The Cleveland Urban League is founded


World War I Ends


Cleveland Jewish Center Built

Now the Cory United Methodist Church, it is built on East 105th Street to provide a synagogue community center in Glenville.


Herman ❝Scatters❞ Stevens

A Cleveland businessman and larger-than-life figure is born.


Architect Robert P. Madison is born


Bombing of Dr. Charles Garvin’s Home

Dr. Charles Garvin moves to Wade Park Avenue and his home is subsequently bombed by White people.


Cleveland Call and Post Formed

The Cleveland Call and Post is created through the merger of two newspapers. Its archives will provide important historical information about Chocolate City Cleveland protagonists.


The Great Depression Begins


Sweets Drops His 98¢

Businessman Ulysses S. “Sweets” Dearing arrives in Cleveland with 98 cents in his pocket that he tosses on the sidewalk: ”I just figured I needed a lot more than 98 cents and maybe somebody else could use it more than me.”


Throughout the 1930s

Langston Hughes, raised in Cleveland but living in New York, premiers several of his play at Karamu House. Karamu was known at the time as the Playhouse Settlement.


National Negro Congress Cleveland Branch Founded

The organization’s goal is to fight for Black Liberation.


Jean Murrell Capers becomes the first Black woman to win the Greater Cleveland Tennis Championship.


The Great Depression Ends


Winston E. Willis

is born in Montgomery, Alabama. His family later heads to Detroit, as part of the Great Migration.


World War II Begins


Cleveland Black Population Expands

By now, the Black population has expanded well into Hough and Glenville areas.


Cleveland's Black population grows to 84,504.


Pla-Mor Roller Rink Opens

It provides a space to skate and watch performances.


Playhouse Settlement Becomes Karamu

The Playhouse Settlement is officially renamed Karamu House. Karamu, a Swahili word meaning, “a place of joyful gathering.”


Dearing’s Restaurant Opens

At 1035 East 105th Street, it’s owned by Ulysses S. (U.S. or "Sweets") Dearing. The Call & Post calls it ”Cleveland’s Pride.”


Cleveland Community Relations Board Formed

Established by Cleveland City Council to improve relations among racial and cultural groups, help end blatant discrimination, and establish policy to prohibit segregation.


Hub-Bub Record Shop Opens

It’s owned by Lena Derrit with her husband Robert at 1208 East 105th Street.


Cafe Society Opens

On East 105th Street, its circular bar becomes a mainstay of the local jazz scene.


World War II Ends


The Hub-Bub Record Shop Moves

to 1208 East 105th Street.


Euclid Beach Park Protests

Throughout the summer, activists organize a series of protests against racial discrimination at Euclid Beach Park.


Cleveland Jewish Center Sold to Cory

Cory United Methodist Church The Cleveland Jewish Center, making Cory the largest Black church in Cleveland and one of the largest in the nation.


Cafe Tia Juana Opens

Catherine and Arthur ❝Little Brother❞ Drake open Cafe Tia Juana. Catherine Drake is the first African American woman to own and manage a jazz club in Cleveland.


Hub-Bub Records Expands Into Real Estate

Lina Derritt reportedly becomes the first African American woman broker in Cleveland when she opens a realty office in the Hub-Bub Record Shop.


Jean Murrell Capers becomes the first African American woman elected to Cleveland City Council.


Karamu House Rebuilds

On East 89th and Quincy after a devastating fire destroyed the original space in 1939.


Glenville becomes predominantly Black neighborhood


Scatter’s Barbecue Opens

Owner Herman “Scatter” Stevens will grow it into a hot-spot for community and celebrities visiting Cleveland.


Brown V. Board of Education Decision

The Supreme Court ends racial segregation in public schools with its Landmark decision in Brown V. Board of Education.


Robert P. Madison

establishes the Robert P. Madison International architectural firm, the first Black-owned architectural firm in the Midwest.


Vietnam War Begins


Cleveland's Black population increases to 216,000


Carl B. Stokes

runs for Mayor of Cleveland and narrowly loses the election.


Entrepreneur Winston E. Willis

arrives in Cleveland via Detroit. On his first night in town, he wins $35,000 shooting pool. He meets and befriends Carl B. Stokes, future Cleveland mayor.


Medical Associates Building Constructed

Designed by architect Robert. P Madison.


The Jazz Temple Opens

The liquor-less club founded by Winston E. Willis features famous headliners such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dinah Washington, Richard Pryor, and Dick Gregory.


The United Freedom Movement (UFM) a coalition of national and local civic, social, religious, and fraternal organizations establishes in Cleveland to addresss inequality primarily in housing, education, and empolyment.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at Cory United Methodist Church on his visit to Cleveland.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visits and leaves a signature at Karamu House on his visit to Cleveland.


George L Forbes is elected to Cleveland City Council, representing Ward 27 and becoming one of ten Black councilmembers.


The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Cleveland chapter is founded. CORE pinoeered the use of nonviolent direct action in the civil rights struggle. The Cleveland chapter is essential to local organizing and movements.


The Jazz Temple was destroyed by an after-hour explosion. It had faced several bomb attemps and threats for being a welcoming interracial space.


Malcom X gives his first version of the "Ballot or the Bullet" speech at Corey United Methodist Church.


The Pla-Mor Roller Rink (renamed University Party Center in 1965) is burned down during the Hough Uprisings and never reopens.


On July 18, a Black takeout customer at the Seventy-Niners Café was denied water by the White bar owner. After years of racial discrimination and tension in Cleveland, this incident sparks protests and angry crowds. The Hough Uprising lasted until July 24.


The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) chapter in Cleveland is founded.


Carl B. Stokes is elected as the first Black mayor of a major American city.


The Cleveland Summit takes place at the Negro Industrial and Economic Union. Muhammad Ali, Mayor Carl B. Stokes, and a group of leading African American athletes gather to discuss Ali's refusal to serve in the Vietnam War.


Cleveland's Black population rises to 320,000, making us 35% of the Cleveland population.


Herman ”Scatters” Stevens is murdered outside Scatter's Barbecue. His funeral includes 3,000 mourners, a procession of 63 Cadillac Eldorados, and an $8,000 copper casket. Scatter's family continues to run the restaurant.


The Glenville Uprising (“Shootout”) was an armed confrontation between members of The Black Nationalists of New Libya, led by Fred Ahmed Evans, and Cleveland Police. The shoutout lasted about an hour and there were 22 casualties, including seven deaths. Four days of civil unrest followed.


Vietnam War Ends


Cafe Society Closes

This is one of the few Chocolate City buildings that is still standing, now the space of the Khnemu Foundation Lighthouse Outreach Center.


Winston E. Willis is sentenced to a year in prison. During his imprisonment, many of his properties were seized and torn down to make room for the Cleveland Clinic to expand.


Ulysses S. Dearing passes away.


Cleveland elects its second African American mayor, Michael R. White. He serves until 2001.