History of Glenville High School
Glenville High School opened in 1904 on 810 Parkwood Drive in Cleveland's east side community of Glenville, and became part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in 1906. Following years of migration from the Woodland neighborhood to Glenville in the early twentieth century, the red-brick two-story school reached a 90 percent Jewish student body. As the neighborhood grew and African Americans began migrating to Glenville for jobs and housing, the demographics changed to 90 percent African American by 1950. Additions were constructed in 1911, 1922, and 1939 to serve the growing enrollment, but the school found itself overcrowded by the 1950s and early '60s. In 1963, the school was well over its 1,608-student capacity with enrollment exceeding 1,900 students. To alleviate the problem, some Glenville residents were sent to nearby John Hay High School in Fairfax.
In 1963, Cleveland citizens voted to allow the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to receive a $55 million bond, from which $3.5 million went to build a new Glenville High School, since the present school at the time was old, small, and outdated (with its old science laboratories and equipment). The new Glenville High School opened for the new school year of 1966, located at its present day location of 650 East 113th Street. While the old school had one-way hallways, shared classrooms, and wooden floors, the spacious new school had large lecture halls, updated equipment, and a large gymnasium. Glenville High School had striking similarities to John F. Kennedy High School in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood. J.F.K. was built a year earlier, and as some Glenville alumni noted, the only difference from Glenville High School was that the blueprint was flipped, where the location of J.F.K. cafeteria was on the opposite side in Glenville High School. Glenville High School maintained a rivalry with J.F.K. High School in sports, as well as neighboring Collinwood High School. Glenville at the time was known for its track-and-field team, the Glenville Tarblooders. A "tarblooder" was a robot man, named after the men who "bled tar" from working on the railroads in the early 1900s. Workers at a Glenville Tar company were often called “Tarblooders”. A Tarblooder was a railroad worker whose job was to smear hot tar on railroad ties after they were laid, to seal them and hold them in place. It was difficult work to say the least. The mixture of tar, dirt, sweat pouring off of these men and the occasional real blood gave the impression of blood. These were men who truly “sweat blood”. They were considered hard-working and dedicated men who went far beyond the call of duty on their jobs.
The name became synonymous with the hard workers and was adopted by the Glenville High School and was later explained that Tarblooders represents the BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS that previous dedicated alumni laid down for the students after them. Glenville developed many chants which included, but is not limited to, “Whack, Thud, Tarblood,” warning opponents of what would happen as a result of their challenging them.
Glenville High School has had notable alumni, whether it be athletes from Glenville's successful football team such as Heisman Trophy Recipient Troy Smith, politicians such as Councilman Kevin Conwell, former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White and Howard Metzenbaum, actors like Steve Harvey and Ron O'Neal of Superfly fame, and the creators of Superman – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In addition to its alumni, a historical highlight occurred on April 26, 1967, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in Glenville's auditorium. A year later, he was killed by an assassin's bullet.
In 2020, a neighboring school in the Hough community, Martin Luther King Jr. Career Campus was closed. Subsequentially, Glenville High School welcomed former MLK students, staff and Career Technical Education programs with open arms! We are only getting better from here because we are all "Tied to Greatness"!