With a population that is less than one percent African American today, Seven Hills seems an unlikely place to have found large leisure events for African Americans eighty years ago. Yet, Hillside Grove, a picnic ground near West Creek in Seven Hills, hosted several high-profile Black events in the late 1930s. At the time, Seven Hills was still a farming community with only about 500 residents. From 1937 to 1939, Hillside Grove hosted a number of Black organizations’ outings, including the Cleveland Branch NAACP’s Emancipation Day picnic in 1937 and the 17th Ward Republican Club picnic in 1939. The latter event brought some 3,000 people to Hillside Grove. The club furnished free transportation that enabled many poor residents of the 17th Ward (Kinsman area) to attend. Call & Post editor W. O. Walker campaigned for City Council at the event. In the same summer the park also hosted the United Labor Committee’s 16th Annual Three-Day Labor Picnic, which featured an “all-star boxing tournament,” along with a variety show, ballgame game, moonlight dancing, and even a “baby health and beauty contest” judged by a panel of doctors. It is not known who owned Hillside Grove or when it opened or closed.
- “All-Star Boxing Tournament Features 16th Annual Three-Day Labor Picnic.” Call & Post. June 29, 1939.
- “Celebrate Emancipation Day.” Cleveland Plain Dealer. July 30, 1937.
- “Everything is Free! Even Transportation to 17th Ward Picnic at Hillside Grove.” Call & Post. August 17, 1939.
- “NAACP to Picnic at Hillside Grove.” Call & Post. July 29, 1937.
- “3000 Enjoy 17th Ward Republican Outing.” Call & Post. August 24, 1939.
- “Ward Republicans to Picnic at Hillside Grove; Sure!-Public is Invited.” Call & Post. July 29, 1937.