IN THE BEGINNING
In the spring of 1887, a few Christians who were saved in England and Scotland became acquainted in Cleveland. They decided to meet each Thursday evening in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey Bool to study the Scriptures. It was not long until they discovered the truth of Matthew 18:20. They met to remember the Lord for the first time on June 5th in 1887. Those at the first meeting were Peter Crawford and Mr. and Mrs. Bool. The next Lords Day they were joined by Mr. William Meil from the Orkney Islands, Scotland.
During the fall and winter of 1887-88, about ten others joined the little company including Robert Duncan, father of George Duncan, who later was commended to the Lords work from Cleveland. In the spring of 1888, the group rented a little “upper room” right in the center of downtown Cleveland. A year later they were forced to move and they relocated to Bolivar Road and East 9th Street, still in the downtown area.
Mr. John Smith, the pioneer evangelist from Scotland, came to Canada in the 1880s, and in his travels through Ontario met Miss Christine Niven of Owen Sound. They married in 1889. In 1893 Mr. Smith came to Cleveland. Being impressed with the great need of the city, he moved his family to Cleveland. He and Mr. John McFadgen pitched a tent and preached the gospel on the east side of the city. A number of souls were saved and added to the assembly, many of whom lived on the west side.
In 1895 it was decided that the assembly should build its own hall. Mr. and Mrs. Decker (she was in fellowship) had a farm at the corner of Wade Park and Madison Road, later known as Addison Road. The Deckers gave a lot for the hall near the corner, with a deed restriction that the building must always be used for the preaching of the gospel. In 1901 it was necessary to enlarge the hall as the assembly continued to grow.
A number of brethren in 1905 started a Sunday School and a regular Sunday evening gospel meeting in a small rented building on Minnie Avenue on the south side of the city. This effort was in full fellowship with the Addison Road assembly. They had many special series of gospel meetings and a great many souls were saved there. A series in 1914 by Thomas Dempsey and David Roy went on for ten weeks and seventeen professed to be saved. Most of them were baptized and added to the Addison Road assembly and went on well.
In 1906 the assembly helped to build a comfortable Gospel Hall on West 85th Street and the West Side Assembly was started as a hive-off in full fellowship with Addison Road.
The assembly at Addison Road continued to grow and in 1918 a major enlargement of the building took place. A new addition was added to the front with a balcony The platform was enlarged and a baptistry was added. A new boiler room was built and modern restrooms were added. The kitchen was also enlarged.
That was the start of the greatest growth when the assembly had more than 225 members. At one time in the 1920s, Addison Road had seven resident preachers. They were W. P. Douglas, George Duncan, William G. Foster, David Roy, Robert McCracken, Sr., James Smith, and John Watt.
As the years went by, most of the Christians moved to the suburbs and now had to drive to the meetings. Parking became a real problem. As a result, it was decided to sell the building and build a new hall in one of the eastern suburbs. The restriction that the Deckers had put into the deed became a real problem because there were now over 50 heirs scattered over the country that had to sign releases for the sale of the building. John Smith, with the help of a title company, traced all but two of the heirs, and the title company gave its consent for the sale. In 1956 the Addison Road Gospel Hall was sold for $29,000 to the Nazarenes to be used as an outreach “for the preaching of the gospel.”
After a long, diligent search, about two acres of land were purchased on Monticello Blvd. near the corner of Richmond Road in Richmond Heights. The town had no church at that time and the city fathers were very careful about wanting one. A committee of five, three of whom were vice presidents of a large city bank, had several meetings with the town council before permission was received to build. They were finally convinced when they were shown plans for a building without a steeple that it would fit in with the residences. The Monticello Gospel Hall was completed in 1957.
In the early 1950s there was another hive-off of between 50 and 60 Christians, leaving around 100 in fellowship at Addison Road. Through the years, because of deaths, relocations, and, sad to say, withdrawals from the assembly, the numbers dwindled. In 1986, because of decreasing numbers at the West 85th Street Gospel Hall, the building was sold and those remaining were received into the fellowship at Monticello or other nearby assemblies. As old Mr. Douglas used to say, “God buries His workmen, but He carries on His work.” Others have moved into the Cleveland area who have been a real help to the assembly and thus the lampstand continues to shine in this dark corner of the vineyard.