map of Irishtown

Some notable buildings in Irishtown during the earliest 20th century (view explanatory text)

Cleveland Street is the main street in Irishtown. South of Cleveland, and parallel to it, is Center Street. North of Cleveland, also with Cleveland's east-west orientation, lies North Street. North street was long referred to as "Back Street" (or Back Road or Back-a-Road). What is now Sand Street seems also to have been referred to as "Back Street." Both North Street and the north end of Sand Street seem to lie pretty much in line with each other and seems quite possible that they were at one time joined together. Such a thing would require some kind of bridge or foot trestle over Mill Creek to the north of the present bridge, but it would explain why North Street and Sand Street seem to have had the same nickname - a nickname which must have had its origin during Irishtown's earliest days. The name Back Street was used informally until the 1920's or 30's for both streets but seems to have survived longest for the road now known as Sand Street.

There is a second stretch of road in Irishtown which also has the name, "North Street." It lies at a right angle to the other North Street. This second North Street seems to have had the name "First Street" at one time. Both the northernmost North Street and the other North street are now joined under the same name, "North Street".

"Mittleman's Alley" is one road that never grew beyond the stage of foot or wagon path and which atrophied into a grassy field. Mittleman's Alley lay extended at right angles to Cleveland Street towards the southwest.

The most common type of residence in Irishtown was the so-called "double-block" house. Most of them seem to have been built sometime during the later half of the 1800's by the mining companies to be rented out to their employees. As they are now heavily renovated and remodeled, it is difficult to exactly determine their original character. Double-block houses appear originally to have been small two-story buildings with outer dimensions of about 4 by 6 meters(16 by 24 feet). The narrow edge faced a dirt, often muddy, road and there were two doors in the front and 2 doors in the back. Despite the implication of the name, it appears that in earliest times and until at about 1920, most double-block houses were four-family dwellings. During this earliest period each family had a two-room apartment, each room having dimensions of about 2 by 3 meters (8 by 12 feet), one on the first floor and one on the floor above. The two rooms were connected by a narrow, almost ladder-like, staircase. The ground floor room served as kitchen. There was no inside toilets, no running hot water, no bathing facilities, no electricity, no telephones and no garbage collection.

House numbers were even on one side of the street and odd on the other side of the street. Thus a building might have four addresses. For example: 12 Cleveland Street, 12 rear Cleveland Street, 14 Cleveland Street and 14 rear Cleveland Street. Deviations from this basic numbering system occurred for buildings not alined with the basic street system. With time, all double-block buildings were converted to 1- or 2-family dwellings.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, Irishtown was in large measure a self-sufficient community. Irishtown had its own places of employment, its own workforce, commercial activities including retail trade, church functions, local politics and a school. If Cleveland Street can be considered the main street of Irishtown, then it would be the crossing of Cleveland Street and North Street (or First Street) that that was the "Down Town" or business district of the area. It was here that there was the greatest concentration of commercial enterprises.

The Northwest corner of the intersection between Cleveland Street and North Street was the location of what is likely to have been the first non-Irish commercial establishment in Irishtown (39 Cleveland St), a grocery store first owned by a man named Emil Feurerman. Born about 1857 in the Hungarian part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, Feuerman was among the earliest non-Irish residents of Irishtown, setting there in 1882. Feuerman was also a builder and is credited with building many homes on both sections of North Street. Although they were of the Jewish faith and without strong partisan involvement, the Feuerman family is said to have aided Father Alexis Toth when he was being attacked by those who didn't approve of his activities. After the Feuermans left the area some time around 1910 the grocery store was taken over by a man named Isador Weinstein. After a period of ownership Weinstein sold the grocery and moved to Upper Hudson. This building at 39 Cleveland Street seems to have come into the ownership of Ivan Patelak sometime during the early 1930's and Nicholas Stchur began to manage the grocery business in the building. Later on, after the grocery store ceased operation, the Patelaks ran a yard goods business on the North Street side of the building until the late 30's. One of the Patelaks married a Mrs Nayduck who managed the store.

On the southwest corner of the Cleveland-North street intersection was a saloon (42 Cleveland). It is believed to have been started by a man named (first name unknown) Telep sometime during the early 1920's. Telep died at any early age and the business was taken over by his widow, Violet. She remarried and the place was managed by her new husband, Michael Brenish. The next and final operator of this establishment was Mrs Brenish's son-in-law, Andrew Klemash. This business closed for good sometime during the late 1930's.

Cattycorner from the Telep saloon at 37? Cleveland Street was a pool hall owned by the Popivchak family. Is is said that playing checkers was an extremely popular pastime there, and checker-playing competitions drew big crowds. During the prohibition period the Noti family rented it and are said to have set up a speakeasy in the building. Some unclear information has been obtained about a pool hall and bar on Cleveland near the creek owned by a man named Joseph Lipko or a man named Popovitch. Possibly it is the same building that is being referred to during another period. Possibly "Popovitch" is a mispronunciation of "Popivchak"

After the second world war the VFW-LANI Post was built next to the Popivchak/Noti building. "VFW" are the initials of a nation-wide war veterans' organization called "Veterans of Foreign Wars". The letters "LANI" are the first letters of the first names of four local men who were killed during the second world war. They were: Louis F. Moritz, Andrew Sorochak, Nicholas Vaniga and Ignatius J. Shuleski.

A local resident of Irishtown, Helen Rock, recalls this about the VFW-LANI Post in the early fifties: It used to have a military memorial billboard out in front. On friday or saturday nights in the summer, they would put a sheet up over the billboard and show movies. It was a great gathering of young and old. We would bring benches, chairs, cushions and set up theater fashion and have homemade popcorn, ice cream, soda and the adults would drink beer. The soda and beer were in returnable glass bottles which you could bring to a store and get 2 or 3 cents return deposit. We kids would go around the morning after and collect the bottles to get spending money."

The final, that is south-east, corner of the Cleveland-North street intersection is believed to be the location of a short-lived co-op grocery store that was started in about 1918 and lasted until the early 1920's. John Yaremko served as proprietor of the co-op and after his term of appointment expired he utilized his experience to start his own small grocery store a few doors away in the basements of the Michael Glowatch home on 56 and 58 Cleveland street. John Yaremko's grocery store remained in the Glowatch basement until 1927 when it was relocated to Miner's Mills. After Yaremko had vacated the basement of the Glowatch home the Goobic family ran a pool hall there.

Usually it was the oldest children that were the first to use English in immigrant families. In the predominately Rusyn environment of Irishtown adults could manage quite well with no knowledge of English at all. Most often, no one in a family spoke more than a few words of English until the oldest child had learned English in school and introduced it to other family members, primarily younger brothers and sisters. The first school in Irishtown appears to have been started around 1900 at 64 Cleveland Street and provided a bilingual education from the first to third grades. This first school appears to have been operated by community church leaders together with hired teachers.

Sometime around World War I efforts were made to enforce child labor laws and to insure at least a grade school education to all children, a public school was opened at 84 or 88 Cleveland Street. Most if not all of the teachers in the school were of Irish extraction. Having been in the country longer, they had gained an educational advantage.

After the construction of a public school the parish school continued to provide supplementary functions within the community. Sometime around 1918 the residents of Hudson got together and enlarged it. It is said that each family and working single man were asked to put up fifty dollars for the building expansion. During the morning and early afternoon the building was rented out to the overcrowded public school system and it served as a 5th grade class room. In the afternoon it provided supplementary Rusyn language education. In the early 1920's, children in Irishtown began in the Russian School after reaching the third grade in the public school. Children received this supplementary Rusyn education four afternoons a week, Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 6:00 P.M. This continued until the eighth grade. Bilingualism was maintained for quite a few years by this rather intensive supplementary Rusyn education. The building also served as a community hall, library and even as a theatre. Here, the church sponsored various civil events and entertainment. Frequently, plays were held in this facility. Most often the plays told about life in the homeland. Old clothes from Europe were taken out of trunks and used to depict the time and place. Once on a Saturday afternoon a silent movie featuring Charlie Chaplin was shown there. This was something many people remembered long afterwards. On Saturday evenings there were sometimes dances sponsored by the church or some outside group.

There were many businesses in Irishtown, many short-lived, particularly during the 1930's as people tried to cope with the depression. It seems that most anyone who had a house fronting on Cleveland Street was apt to open some kind of business. One of the more long-lasting businesses was located on Cleveland Street to the east of the Mill Creek Bridge near the Trolley car stop. Here, Joseph Pelak owned a tavern from the late 1920's to the early 40's. A Mr. Lavix ran a barber shop at 74 Cleveland Street and somewhere in the vicinity was a drugstore that was owned by a man named Leonard Teleski. Mike Stchur set up a grocery store in a duplex home on Cleveland Street owned by Harry Klemash.

Mittleman's Alley got its name from Ignatz Mittleman (born 1869) who owned a home there near the railroad tracks where he resided along with his wife Fanny (born 1873) and family. Mittleman is likely to have been among the earliest non-Irish immigrants in the area. He maintained a saloon or restaurant as well as a rooming or boarding house. His rooming house served as a first residence for many more newly arrived immigrants. The Mittleman rooming house was known as "Castle Garden" or "Casa Garde" as it was pronounced by the Rusyn-speaking inhabitants of Irishtown. The name "Castle Garden" probably first came into use during Hudson's Irish period. "Castle Garden" was the name of an immigrant center in New York. Most of the Irish immigrants that had settled in Irishtown had arrived during the period when Castle Garden was the main point of entrance for newcomers to the United States. Rusyn immigration, on the other hand, came later on, through Ellis Island. So this rooming house with its nickname "Castle Garden" probably originated during the Irish period, before Mittleman's proprietorship.

In Mittleman's Alley (but apparently with a street address of 94 Cleveland Street) there was another very early commercial enterprise, a grocery store owned by a man named Lewis Moritz. Born sometime about 1885 Moritz appears to be one of the earliest American-born residents of Irishtown. His wife Ellen, however, is listed in the 1910 census data as being born in Austria-Hungry as most other early inhabitants. Ellen was about 7 years older than Lewis and had evidently been previously married. In 1910 at the age of 25 Moritz had one daughter, three stepdaughters and three stepsons. The Moritz establishment was located on 96 Cleveland street near the middle of the street on the south side. It was a large store for the time, large enough to have a meat department and enough family help to make home deliveries. Later on, one of Moritz' stepsons, Ben Kozik, ran a saloon in the same building. Kozik went on to set up a beer and soda distribution company in upper Hudson where he bottled a soda drink called "Spur Cola" - a Canada Dry brand.

Some notable buildings in Irishtown during the earliest 20th century (view map)

1 - Yaremko-Serafin-Klutchko house at 48-50 North Street
The first radio in Irishtown was apparently owned by Sylvester Klutchko at 48? North street. One of the people present when this "contraption" was first used said that the window in the front room of the Klutchko house was opened wide and crowd of people gathered outside. The crowd was able to perceive "a lot of loud talking and noise." It seems that not all of the people present had a clear knowledge of the cause of this commotion or why they were listening to it. This first operation of a radio in Irishtown may have been on the occasion of the Dempsey-Tuney boxing match. There are reports that several people in the vicinity of Irishtown obtained a radio just in advance of the Demsey-Tuney fight and it is possible that a traveling radio salesman had visited the area at this time.
2 - Gurka house at 44-46 North Street
3 - Walter Stchur-Anna Baun home in left half of 40-42 North Street
Census records from 1920 show Thedore Stchur residing in this home together with daughter and son-in-law, Eva and Michael Pawlak. Eva and Michael soon moved out. When Theodore left for Bald Mountain in 1921 his children and nephew (i.e. Wasyl (Walter), son of Theodore's brother, Stefan) resided in the home for a number of years. Theodore's children moved up to Bald Mountain about 1930 and Walter Stchur moved to Detroit in the mid 1930's.
4 - House that sink into the ground at 36-38 North Street
Sometime about 1923 a house at 36-38 North Street along with its out-buildings sank completely into the mines. It is not known who was living in the house, but it was right next door to the Walter Stchur and Anna Baun home. This extraordinary event is said to have begun late on a Saturday afternoon just as a baker's truck was pulling away from in front of the house. As the truck drove off a crack appeared in the ground just behind the passing wheels and the ground collapsed a bit behind the fissure. Nothing more happened until about midnight when the house began to crack and sink into the ground. By noon the next day, on Sunday, the house was completely gone with just some of the roof visible down in the pit. The coal company redirected a railroad line to the site and dumped coal waste into the void. After the hole was completely filled, it didn't take too long before the lot was sold and a new home was constructed on the spot.
5 - Feurerman-Weinstein-Patelak store at 39 Cleveland
6 - Telep's saloon at 42 Cleveland
7 - Popivchak pool hall at 37? Cleveland Street
8 - co-op grocery store at 38 Cleveland Street
9 - Birthplace of Mary Pawlak at left rear 14 Cleveland Street
10 - Yaremko grocery store beneath 56&58 Cleveland Street
11 - Russian School at 64 Cleveland Street
12 - Lavix barber shop at 74 Cleveland Street
13 - Public School at 84 or 88 Cleveland Street
14 - "Castle Garden" boarding house in Mittleman's Alley
15 - Moritz market at 94 Cleveland