1908 Collinwood School Fire Memorialized through 100 year-old Local Church

The history of Cleveland holds an irreparable and indelible mark when referring to March 4, 1908. This is the day that almost every family in the Collinwood neighborhood tragically lost at least one child on Ash Wednesday morning at Lakeview School on E. 152nd Street. The fire started in the basement and spread quickly. Children panicked and became confused. Narrow hallways and flames forced children to run in many directions; many falling on top of one another and becoming trapped in a pile just inside the entrance. Parents fought to recover their children, but many still perished. In fact, about half did not make it out alive. In total, 172 children, 2 teachers, and a rescuer died that morning. White ribbons marked hundreds of family doors effected by the disaster. Funeral processions occurred daily for weeks. Many families lost multiple children. No one in Cleveland and around the world were immune to the heartbreak.

Laura Baldwin was an 11 year-old girl that was lost that day. Her parents Nicholas and Emma (as well as many other families of the victims) received monetary compensation from the government for their loss.  The Baldwins purchased multiple land lots on Pawnee Avenue and their families moved together on the same street. On October 1st, 1917, the congregation of the Sunflower New thought Spiritualist Association Church was born. Emma’s brother, Reverend William H. Kost, was the congregation’s first Pastor. On February 12th, 1927, one parcel of land at 19204 Pawnee Avenue was allocated to build a Spiritual Church in honor of the fire victims. Reverend Kost and his 2 sons (Harold and Wilbur) built the church that still stands today. In honor of the victims, the church changed its name to Memorial Spiritual Church. Some local families still remember the loss of their family members in 1908 and continue to maintain a connection with the church. 109 years later the tragedy still hits home each year as Memorial Spiritual Church remembers the victims in an annual memorial service.

Ask anyone who has visited the church about the “Spirit” and the “loving and welcoming feeling” that surrounds all that enter through its doors. It’s a pilgrimage for many who wish to honor any soul that has crossed over and are now “in Spirit”, and in traditional form, the church offers Spiritual Messages to comfort those who are still on this earth plane. The ethereal realm lives on through the church doors, and personal messages and miracles are not an uncommon occurrence. Some have experienced the presence of Angels and have heard disembodied voices and choirs that come from the amplifier speakers in various dialects without explanation. Paranormal investigators have recorded proof of these spiritual visitors during investigations. This is proof that the spirit lives on as God promised in Holy Scripture.

The weekly Sunday worship service starts at 10:30 am and is offered to the public of any denomination. There is a prayer and healing circle weekly to pray for those in need followed by fellowship with refreshment for all to enjoy. Memorial Church is unique in that even though the weekly prayers are reminiscent of the Christian faith through scripture and prayer, visitors come from all walks of life and religion. Multiple religious beliefs and practices radiate among the concepts within the congregation. The concepts of meditation, karma, and reincarnation are explored. Spiritual gifts of prophesy, discernment of spirits, and healing facilitation creates a welcoming venue for all to participate and enjoy. Their motto is “All are welcome, come as you are!” With so many variable belief systems, Memorial believes that all become one in the name of God, Spirit, and Love, regardless of affiliation. Their popular message and healing services are held on the 1st Wednesday of each month starting at 7 pm which is held as a benefit for the 100 year old congregation.

For more information about Memorial Spiritual Church and other events, please visit www.mscc2015.weebly.com. You can also email the church at memorialchurch1927@gmail.com or call 216-538-0489. Memorial Spiritual Church, 19204 Pawnee Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44119.

Reverend Tammy Hill

Memorial Spiritual Church was founded in 1917 and the church built in 1927 in memory of the 175 lives lost in the Collinwood School Fire of 1908.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 3:59 PM, 03.09.2017