From the early 1940s to the mid-1960s, Pla-Mor Roller Rink at 10626 Cedar Avenue was the only skating rink in Cleveland that welcomed Black skaters. Pla-Mor had its start as the Coliseum, a large hall that opened in 1940 in a decommissioned bus garage and, in addition to featuring a large roller rink, hosted trade shows, sporting events, concerts, and large parties. In 1942, Elmer “Al” Collins became the manager, renovating the cavernous Coliseum as the Pla-Mor and hiring Walter Peabody as skating instructor and Sherdena Walker as organist. Collins went on to found the National Roller Rink Operators Association, based in Detroit. The organization held its Black freestyle and speed skating national championships in Pla-Mor and at a rink in Chicago. Even as African Americans tried to gain access to the nearby Skateland, a larger rink on Euclid Avenue where white management and skaters harassed Blacks attempting to skate, Pla-Mor provided a warm welcome. Beginning in 1950, Pla-Mor was owned and operated by Bill and Mary Tucker. In addition to roller skating, Pla-Mor hosted popular bands in its ballroom. After changing its name to the University Party Center in 1965, the venue burned down during the Hough Uprising of the following summer.
- “Count Basie’s Orchestra to Play for Coliseum Opening.” Call & Post. October 5, 1940.
- “New Owners Take Over at Pla-Mor.” Call & Post. March 11, 1950.
- Polk, Anita Lewis. “Destruction of Old Pla Mor Recalls Days When Building Was Focal Point.” Call & Post. September 3, 1966.
- Souther, J. Mark, and Timothy Klypchak. “Pla-Mor Roller Rink.” Cleveland Historical. clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/621.
- “Sues Coliseum for Injury on Skating Rink.” Call & Post. March 1, 1941.
- Toppin, Russell J., Sr. Interview by J. Mark Souther. 19 June 2013. Cleveland Voices. clevelandvoices.org/items/show/2398.
- Wilson, Sunnie, with John Cohassey. The Life and Times of Sunnie Wilson. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998. digital.library.wayne.edu/item/wayne:WayneStateUniversityPress4363/file/HTML_FULL.
- Wolcott, Victoria W. Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle over Segregated Recreation in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.
One thought on “Pla-Mor”
yes yes yes . l sat at my kitchen table and reminisced about those fun days at the Pla More.Going there was simply pure fun,showing off our skills and enoying the comaraderie.l remember jumping over puddles of water because the roof was leaking. those were puddles of fun. you had to have skiils to jump them . We would dress our skates with pom pom balls, lights and sometimes with just colored shoe strings.New York had the Savoy but Cleveland had thePla Mor. l grew up on e 106 cedar and still lives here today.l remember that July night when the rink caught fire.My dad and l stood and watched as the building burned. The lights on the fire trucks had melted from the intensed heat. l can still see the national gaurd standing atop of there jeeps embracing 50 cal mounted machine guns.The next morning those same national gaurdsmen who have since occupied space in my mind opened fire on a family living across from the burning Pla Mor who were simply trying to escape the heat,choas and the threat of the fire.While some things has changed .Sadly,some things remain the same.