John Marshall: A Piece of Cleveland HistoryCome visit John Marshall and experience a piece of Cleveland history. Our new building offers a blend of “old and new”. Our Alumni Hallway and main entrance highlight refurbished architectural pieces from our old building we fondly remember. Classrooms offer BrightLinks smart board projectors, 1-1 wi-fi bandwidth, and teacher microphones which resemble college classroom technology. New athletic and arts facilities offer a wide range of activities for our students and community.
A Brief History of John Marshall High School
In the 1880s, West Park was called Rockport Township. The elementary and high school were consolidated into one building at Lorain Avenue and Triskett. The corner that housed the high school students was called Central High School. Central graduated its first senior in 1901. This first graduating class at Central High School had one student.
Eventually, the population of West Park was large enough to support a separate high school, West Park High School, which opened in 1899 at West 152nd Street and Lorain Avenue. Built for $8000, it originally housed only four rooms on two floors; many additions followed. So too, did name changes, to Lincoln High School, back to West Park, and then West Park Lincoln High School.
When Rockport became part of Cleveland in 1923, the high school’s name was changed permanently to John Marshall, (1755-1835), a politician and lawyer who served as the fourth chief justice of the United States (1801-35). Marshall remains the longest-serving chief justice and is best remembered for the Marbury v. Madison decision, which upheld the principle of judicial review — that courts could strike down federal and state laws that conflicted with the Constitution.
By the fall of 1929, the West Park Kiwanis was leading a campaign to raise funds for a new school. Congestion on Lorain Avenue and the lack of room for expansion at the old site ultimately led the school board to purchase property on Viola Avenue and West 140th Street for a new facility.
Ground-breaking for the building took place on Nov. 21, 1930 and construction was completed in 1932. Eventually named a Cleveland city landmark, the building was designed by noted architect George M. Hopkinson. It was built to accommodate 2500 students. Throughout several periods in its history, John Marshall ranked as the largest public high school in the city.
John Marshall was known for academic excellence and a wide array of extracurricular offerings, such as an acclaimed orchestra, marching band and sports teams.Proud of Our AlumniAmong the John Marshall alumni; Tony Celebreeze, former Ohio Attorney General; Joseph Hrudka, founder of Mr. Gasket Co., who now owns several businesses in Phoenix and California; former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Frank Celebreeze; former Ohio State Senator C.J. Prentiss; Leonard Downie, former executive editor at the Washington Post; and twins Mark and Steve O’Donnell. Mark is a Tony-award winning playwrite (“Hairspray’) and Steve has been an Emmy-award winning writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmie Kimmel Live, the Chris Rock show and Seinfeld. Don't forget to visit our JMH Alumni page!
Most of this information was taken directly from the Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation as well as “The History of John Marshall High School, Cleveland, Ohio” by Ralph A. Pfingsten, 2007. This book may be found at your local Cleveland Library or purchased online. Ralph Pfingsten is a JMH Alumni from the class of 1958. His book includes over 600 pictures with articles highlighting students, faculty, music, drama, and sports.