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A Partial, Visual History of the Former St. Joseph Christian Life Center

The St. Joseph Christian Life Center had a long storied history before its purchase by Hospice of the Western Reserve in 2009. The property was first owned by H.H. Timken, founder of the Timken Roller Bearing Company and used as his summer home. 1928-1941: Cunningham Sanitarium and Timken Hospital

1928 Timken offered the property to Dr. Orval J. Cunningham of the University of Kansas to build an oxygen therapy experimental hospital.
  The hospital was a 900-ton spherical ball with five floors, 38 rooms and 350 portholes and was called the “Cunningham Sanitarium.”

  Attached was a three story hotel, called the “Timken Hotel.” The hospital was said to be the only one of its kind in the world.
1934 Six years after the experiment began; operations ceased due to the American Medical Association’s rejection of oxygen therapy.  
1935 The property was over by James H. Rand II, son of the co-founder of Remington Rand and changed Georgian Hotel into a hospital renaming it the Ohio Institute of Oxygen Therapy.
1936 The hospital was reorganized, as a general hospital known as Boulevard Hospital, but financial problems forced its closure in 1937. The site remained unused until purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland in 1941.  

1941 to 2007 Cleveland Catholic Dioceses Ownership

1941 The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland purchased the property and it became the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) headquarters. During this time period, the Cunningham Sanitarium was razed and the scrap steel, valued at $25,000, went to support the World War II effort.
1944 The Diocese transferred 108 orphans from the St. Joseph Orphanage for Girls on Woodland Avenue to the property. The orphanage, operated by the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, was named St. Joseph-On-The-Lake.
1950 A fourth floor was added to the building expanding the capacity of the retreat house from 84 retreatants to 120 retreatants.
1968 to 1972 Fr. Joseph Spitzig was the director of the retreat house and in an effort to stay in touch with the emphasis of spirituality; he changed the name of the retreat house from The Diocesan Retreat House — Patronage of St. Joseph to “The St. Joseph Christian Life Center.”

The property was used as a retreat center from 1947 until 2007. The Center was special to thousands who journeyed there for a time of reflection and prayer. The Center was closed due to a nationwide trend away from traditional retreats and a lack of funds to repair the deteriorating building. Photos courtesy of: Cleveland Cleveland State University Library and Archives of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland