In the 1880s, Polish immigrants began settling in Tremont. Many of these new arrivals found work in the
booming steel mills just down the hill in Cleveland’s industrial Flats. They frequently referred to their new
neighborhood as Kantowo, a village in northern Poland where most of the Cleveland Polish immigrants near
St. John Cantius were from. By the late 19th Century, two other heavily Polish neighborhoods also existed in
Cleveland: Warszawa (now known as Slavic Village) and Poznan (the area around East 79th Street and
Superior Avenue).

Tremont’s new Polish residents from Kantowo were granted ecclesiastical approval to establish a parish by the
late Bishop Ignatius Hortsmann and St. John Cantius Catholic Church opened in 1898. The first parish was a
refurbished streetcar barn located at the corner of Professor Street and College Avenue (site of the present
church). The rear portion of the barn structure was used as a school and residence for the first pastor. The
church’s patron, Saint John Cantius (1390–1473), was a Polish priest, scholar, philosopher, physicist and
theologian, who was named patron of Poland and Lithuania in 1737 and canonized 1767 by Pope Clement

By 1908, the St. John Cantius community had grown to 400 families and enrolled 300 students. Fr. Doppke,
pastor at that time, approached the diocese to borrow $75,000.00 to erect a new combination church/school
as the first barn structure could no longer support the growth of the parish. The moneys were granted and a
formal invitation was sent to the sisters of Saint Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis to teach in this new,
state of the art building. The 1909 school remains open today as a leased charter school.

By the early 1920’s, Fr. Joseph Kosinski, pastor, realized the 1909 combination school/church building (directly
next door to the present church) could no longer sustain the growth of the parish. His first priority – build a
church! Moneys were raised and the architectural firm Potter and Gable were chosen to design the new
church. The interior was designed to be similar to the cathedral and parishes of Kantowo Poland. This imitative
design style is referred to as Polish Cathedral Style. The new (3rd) church opened in 1925 and dedication
ceremonies took place in November 1926.

By 1943, St. John Cantius grew to nearly 2,000 families. In 1945, permission was granted to build a brand
new state of the art High School equipped with meeting rooms, a machine shop, labs, library, gymnasium, and
a fully functional AMF bowling facility for recreation. By the late 1960’s the neighborhood began to decline
due to many factors as did other inner cities through the United States. However, the revitalization of Tremont,
a growth of new homes, condominiums, exciting new restaurants and a mixture of both old and young, the
future of St. John Cantius is poised for a rebirth well into the next century.


St. John Cantius Church has navigated through some challenging times.

Time, lack of funds, and a small parish base led to many maintenance issues inside of this magnificent polish cathedral style church.

Seeing the need that existed, our parishioners stepped up and raised over $xxxxx.xx to elevate the existing worship spaces.

Happily, most of the church maintenance issues have now been repaired and renewed as our parish continues to grow in this now vibrant community of Tremont (Southside).


In 1926 The Votteler-Holtkamp-Sparling organ company in Cleveland installed a pipe organ in the new, St. John Cantius Church. The instrument was well built and withstood the test of time. The organ will soon be 100 years old in 2026.

Like the church building, the organ had aged. Much of the organ was no longer playable due to wind being cut off to certain sections of the organ. The cause was rotted deterioration of the leather and failing pneumatic parts of the organ.

It was time for a complete make-over of our instrument and the Holtkamp Organ Company in Cleveland was contacted for a complete restoration – the original family builder. The current president, Chris Holtkamp agreed that this unique ‘orchestral’ style pipe organ is indeed one of the only surviving instrument built by the company – a style of organ voicing/building in the 1920’s and 30’s. Chris Holtkamp was able to locate the original 1926 contract and schematics for the instrument.

We agreed to completely restore the instrument to its original state, specifications, wind pressure, stops, and nomenclature as it was in 1926. The instrument will be completely finished late summer 2024.


The St. John Cantius Bells (4 total) were installed when the new 1926 church was built. The original bell maker was Meneely Bell Co. Of Troy, NY. The original cost – $6,000.00.

Time had taken its toll on the bells and the bell tower. Two of the largest bells, one nearly 3,000 lbs and the other 2,000 lbs were both silenced about 20 years ago due to the floor deteriorating and broken sleepers.

A complete renovation of the tower floor and roof were completed while raising up all 4 bells and fitting them with new sleepers.

In addition, the tower was installed with lighting and can be seen from afar during the evening hours.


We welcome new parishioners at any time.

To register, call the rectory to set an appointment with the pastor.