Music Clubs & Night Clubs

The Cosmopolitan Club

The Cosmopolitan Nightclub, also known as the Cosmopolitan Political Club, The Cosmopolitan, or just the Cosmo, was a place for community members to come together for celebrations, entertainment, and live jazz music at 33 ½ North Howard Street in downtown Akron.  

According to several Cleveland Call & Post articles, the Cosmopolitan was established in Akron sometime in 1936, as it celebrated its first anniversary at the North Howard location in 1937. It is listed in the City of Akron Directories from 1939-1953 but is assumed to have been open 2-3 years both before and after that date range, although further research must be done on exact opening and closing dates. Here, it is important to mention that there is information that reveals it may have been open as early as 1932. There are two addresses for the club. One in Cleveland, at 2185 East 93rd Street, and one at 33 ½ North Howard in Akron. There is much confusion between these addresses, since they were both covered by the Cleveland-based Call & Post and they had the same name, very similar African American audiences, and were both chartered couple’s clubs.  

The Akron club celebrated its first anniversary in 1937. It employed ten people at that time. The Cosmo, as it was often called, was owned and operated by Charles Fitzhugh, and comanaged by Booker Brooks. Johnny Moore is also mentioned as having been involved in the club. Fitzhugh was a well-established businessman in the community, having owned and operated Elite Dry Cleaners and co-owned and operated the J C Wade Dance Studio on Howard Street’s south side in addition to the Cosmo.  

Black owned and operated, it served a largely black audience on North Howard. Several sources explain that although most of Akron was highly segregated, Howard Street was less so; it brought people from all over Ohio in the name of good music and community.

Cosmopolitan Club Interior | Evelyn and Horace Stewart Collection, University of Akron Archives

 The club was described as “Akron’s most sophisticated hot spot” and for good reason. It had two floors, grill rooms, a ladies lounge, a kitchen, and a unique bar setup. It also had a “Rose Room,” in which galas, wedding receptions, and other events were held. There was a stage for performances with surrounding tables for patrons to sit, watch, and enjoy their refreshments in a cozy environment. Pictures indicate lively decorations. Several sources explain that the club was a charter, or private club, where members paid dues to the club that were used to improve and uphold it. In 1937, Charles Fitzhugh is the president, Eddie Walker is the Vice President, and Secretary Treasurer is Eugene Brooks. A 1945 instance in which the club was penalized for serving alcohol to minors, implies however, that one did not always need a membership to get in. 

In 1938, the club underwent a remodel, which cost Brooks and Fitzhugh $5,000, but brought club seating capacity to 300 people. After this remodel, it earned compliments like “the swankiest nightclub in Ohio,” and “the finest thing of its kind on this side of the country.” Patrons described it as intimate and cozy, with soft lighting, a modern bar, both Chinese and American foods, and excellent service. It also had cooling systems. At the bar, one could find “Bimbo” Sewell and Mary Taylor serving drinks. Refreshments were priced appropriately, and service was said to be courteous and timely. Crowds at this time were “jolly and orderly.”  

In 1942, in a news report all the way from Pittsburgh, we learn that the Cosmopolitan actually had a “Blue Room” as well, which reopened in January of that year. This followed an apparent shutdown following the holidays for reasons unknown. It is unclear whether the Blue Room became the Rose Room (or vice versa), or if they were separate entities inside the club. Again described as Akron’s finest ‘race entertainment,’ it was a place of merry making and ‘floor shows,’ another name for a jazz show.  

In 1953, a Cleveland Call & Post article detailed a spring dance at the club that hosted 200 or more people, hosted by the Gay Twenty Club. The men wore dark suits, and the women wore blue and yellow to the dance, and the club was named as one of Akron’s most popular couple’s clubs. A song played that night was “Danny Boy,” artist unknown, and attendees did plenty of dancing in their bright clothes. 

Mrs. Ruth Rivers, who died in 1955, the last year the Cosmopolitan is listed in the Green Book, was a caterer and operator of the Cosmopolitan’s dining room for several years.  

The entertainment at the Cosmo was lively and showcased many stars throughout its rotation; a list of performers included Clara Bow and her Ubanji Boys, the Pete Diggs Band (featuring Clifford Johnson, whose murder filled the region’s papers, as outlined below), Al Smith and The Rhythm Bombers, Robert Smith and his orchestra, Harry Tanner and his orchestra, Blaksly’s Orchestra, and Dick Montgomery. Billy Fowler, The Redjacks, The Charles Harris Trio, the Corny Rookard band, and Art Minson and his band may have also played there, as they are mentioned as being part of the downtown scene.  

The Pete Diggs Band at the Cosmo, 1945 | Evelyn and Horace Stewart Collection, University of Akron Archives

For more information on what we know about the Pete Diggs Band and the murder of their young saxophone prodigy Clifford Johnson, click here.

Green Book Details

The Cosmopolitan Club appears in the Green Book as Cosmopolitan from 1947 to 1955 at 33 1/2 N. Howard St. in Akron under the category Night Clubs.


  • “Cosmopolitan Club Has Anniversary” Call & Post. November 11, 1937  
  • December 5, 2005 – Sounds of North Howard St. – # 882  
  • “Colorful Spring Dance for 200” Call & Post. June 6, 1953 
  • Cleveland Call and Post. May 9, 1953  
  • “Knife Stabbing In Akron Theatre Tragically Ends Teen-Age Romance” Call & Post. July 14,1945 
  • “At One Of President Roosevelt’s Birthday Balls” Call & Post. February 7, 1942 
  • “Akron’s Bright Lights At Xmas Time” Call & Post. December 23, 1937 
  • “Rose Room Re-Opens” Call & Post. January 24, 1942  
  • “Cosmopolitan Club Scene of Wedding Celebration” Call & Post. November 11, 1937 
  • “Akron Girl Sentenced to Life” Call & Post. November 10, 1945  
  • “Akron Club Starts Drive For Members” Call & Post. July 1, 1937  
  • “The Cosmopolitan Club” Call & Post. November 12, 1936  
  • “Mrs. Ruth Rivers, Ill For A Long Time, Passes At Age 42” Ohio Informer. September 3, 1955  
  • Photos courtesy of the Evelyn and Horace Stewart Collection, University of Akron Archives.  
  • “Social Whirl: The Women” Call & Post. February 27, 1943 
  • “Gay Time Had By Guests At Cosmopolitan” Call & Post. March 26, 1936 
  • “400 Witness Robinson-Barnes Nuptials At Cory; Reception At Cosmopolitan” Call & Post. October 25, 1941  
  • “Gala Coronation Party To Be Staged At Cosmopolitan Club” Call & Post. December 29, 1938 
  • “Buckeye State’s Swankiest Night Club To Open In Akron This Friday” Pittsburgh Courier. June 25, 1938 
  • “Akron’s Blue Room To Re-Open Friday” Pittsburgh Courier. January 17, 1942 

33 1/2 N Howard St, Akron, OH

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One thought on “The Cosmopolitan Club

  1. What an interesting piece of local history… the information is well-researched and documented and the pictures really make it come alive! Hats off to Green Book for publishing.

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