Hungarian Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

Hungarian club plans to burn its mortgage

By Eleanor Prech
Cleveland Press, Jan. 12, 1977

Trucked in between a row of homes on Fulton Rd. near Lorain Ave. is a house that isn't a home-it is a Hungarian club.

The initials C. M. O. stand for Cleveland Magyar Onkepzokor on the arrow pointing to a side entrance which bears the translation-Magyar Society for Self Culture.

This side entrance leads to a hall at the rear of the home built about 10 years ago. The hall is big enough to accommodate 200 dinner guests and boasts a small stage for programs.

The club rooms for the 150 members of the Men's Branch headed by John Knoch and the Women's Branch members headed by Mrs. Joseph Balint also include a kitchen where the women turn out luscious Hungarian meals. Upstairs are quarters for the caretakers.

The high point in the club's history will come in June when a $35,000 mortgage will be burned at an anniversary marking 75 years of the club.

"Doctors, lawyers, writers and businessman founded the club to perpetuate the culture of the culture of Hungary," said Knoch of 18701 Springdale Ave.

Mrs. Balint of 1557 Lewis Dr., Lakewood, recalls the many parties for artists such as Sigmund Romberg, comedian Joe Penner, stage stars Ilona Massey and Fedak Lori.

President of the women's branch for the past 10 years, Mrs. Balint feels she is carrying on the work of her father, Geza Breznay, one of the early members. He was a crony of John Kaloczy, 90, the club's oldest member and honorary president.

"We have an extensive library with books, magazines and newspapers especially enjoyed by the newcomers who came to Cleveland after the Second World War," said Mrs. Balint. She estimates that at least $80,000 in funds was provided by the club to help Hungarian immigrants in finding jobs and settling in Cleveland.

Mrs. Balint also points with pride to the fact that the late Arpad Bonar, Violinist with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, taught violin classes for many years at the club. Both Mrs. Balint and Knoch have been examining the vast amount of material collected by the club in the past years.

There are pictures recalling the production of "Gul Baba" given in 1912 and of "Hazudik" in 1924. Records show the production of "Countess Maritza" in 1928 and of "Janos Vitez" (John the hero) many times.

Costumes worn by the club members such as Hungarian shepherd's coats, vests and boots are among the memorabilia stored by the club.

Before purchasing the present location, the Magyar Society for Self Culture owned a large home across the street at 2054 Fulton Rd. which the club lost during the depression. That headquarters is no owned by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The present location at 2059 Fulton Rd. is said to have been the home of the Leopold Bros. Furniture Co., now located at 15149 Lorain Ave.

Henry Leopold, a cabinetmaker who came to Cleveland from Han over, Germany, in 1835, bought a lot at Lorain Ave. and Fulton Rd. and established the furniture company in 1859. A blaze swept the corner in 1932 and burned the original business to which immigrants in the early days turned for their furniture needs.

The home bought by the Magyar Society was one of two identical brick homes next to the furniture business.

All these and many other facts are being studied by a committee planning the 75th anniversary celebration of the Magyar Society fro Self-Culture next June.