Erma Lee opened the Erma Lee’s Beauty School in October 1934 at 5512 Woodland Avenue. Her mother, Goldina Jacobs Edwards, had started the Elso Poro Beauty College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in 1913, and she came to Cleveland to assist her daughter with recruiting students. The school moved in 1936 to 2556 East 55th Street, across from Haltnorth Theatre. By that time, it enrolled more than forty students and was the largest Black-owned beauty school in Ohio. By 1939 it had moved again to 2331-33 East 55th Street (pictured below). The school offered dormitory accommodations for out-of-town students. After Erma Lee died in 1960, her daughter Marnette Lee continued to operate the school. In later years, following continued growth, it moved to 3223 East 93rd Street, where it operated until a fire destroyed its building on December 31, 1974. The Erma Lee name was known far and wide as one of the nation’s most influential beauty colleges.
Additional information coming soon.
- Display Ad 7 — No Title. Call and Post. January 5, 1939.
- Display Ad 11 — No Title. Call and Post. October 20, 1934.
- “Erma Lee Beauty School, Barber College Destroyed.” Call and Post. January 11, 1975.
- “Erma Lee’s Beauty School Moves.” Call and Post. July 16, 1936.
- “Erma Lee Beauty School To Mark 40th Anniversary.” Call and Post. September 21, 1974.
- “Hats Take the Spotlight: At Erma Lee’s Bal de Chapeaux.” Call and Post. June 3, 1967.
4 thoughts on “Erma Lee’s Beauty School”
MY NAME IS DARIN H KING OF CLEVELAND, OHIO…AND I’M THE ELDEST GREAT GRAND CHILD OF ERMA UNETTA EDWARDS LEE..via HER OLDEST DAUGHTER ERNESTINE LEE-GRAHAM (MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER), and ERNESTINE’S OLDEST CHILD ERMAJEANNE LEE JONES…(ONLY GRAND DAUGHTER AND NAME SAKE..) MY MOTHER…EHO PASSED AWAY JANUARY 5TH, 2018…
Thank you so much for sharing your connection to Erma Lee. We hope to add much more of a story about her beauty school and always welcome ideas and information (and are happy to acknowledge them).
My name is Karlos Graham Middle Son of Kelly M. Graham. Don’t remember much about my Great Grandmother however my Dad speaks HIGHLY of her all of the time and I am always eager to listen! My Grandfather and Grandmother met at this school!!! I plan to add more soon!
Thank you! We’ve started to pull together some of the basic outline of a history of Erma Lee’s since your comment. Please feel welcome to share more.