Czechs in the City: The Czech-American Experience in Cleveland

Thomas Sidlo, esq., one of the great Bohemians of Cleveland and a true friend of great music… | February 15, 2009


This is very exciting. Yesterday I learned from this “We Who Built America” ( pg. 418 ) book that I’m writing up for Wednesday that one of the Presidents of the Musical Arts Association (MAA) was a Czech-American! This MAA group founded and has always operated our legendary Cleveland Orchestra.

According to my Cleveland Orchestra program from last weekend, Sidlo was the MAA President from 1939-1953. That basically puts him in charge during the critical WWII era, as well as during the early Cold War years. That ALSO means that he hired the legendary George Szell, who was Maestro from 1946-1970!

I want to learn more about Mr. Sidlo…

Wittke, Carl. We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant. Rev. Ed.. Cleveland: The Press of Western Reserve University, 1964.


Here is Sidlo’s citation from the invaluable online edition of the “Encylopedia of Cleveland History”:


SIDLO, THOMAS L. (10 Mar. 1888-27 May 1955), lawyer and founding partner of the law firm of Baker, Hostetler, Sidlo & Patterson (see BAKER & HOSTETLER), was born in Cleveland to Thomas and Anna Sidlo, started as a freshman at Western Reserve University but transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison for 2 years, returning to WRU in 1908 and graduating in 1909, receiving his M.A. (1910) and LL.B. (1912) from WRU. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1912. Sidlo supported NEWTON D. BAKER† for Cleveland mayor, and when Baker took office, Sidlo was made chief deputy under PETER WITT†, the street railway commissioner. In 1913, Sidlo became commissioner of franchises, shortly thereafter commissioner of information and publicity, and in 1914 director of public service. When Baker left office in 1916, Sidlo joined him in forming Baker, Hostetler, Sidlo & Patterson. Sidlo was the financial director, controller, and general counsel for Scripps-Howard Newspapers, United Press Assoc., and the Newspaper Enterprise Assoc. from 1924-36. After Sidlo resigned, he devoted his time to his numerous outside interests, which encompassed more than 200 organizations, chiefly in music, theater, foreign affairs, and science. He was chairman of the NORTHERN OHIO OPERA ASSN.; president of the MUSICAL ARTS ASSN., CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, and the Foreign Affairs Council in Cleveland; chairman of the Cleveland Committee for Relief in Czechoslovakia; and a trustee of Science Service, Inc. Sidlo married Winifred Morgan in 1914. She died in 1932. He later married Elizabeth Avery in 1935. Sidlo was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.


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About author

I live in Cleveland Heights and work at teh Louis Stokes V.A. Medical Center. Kind of like my hero Harvey Pekar. I'm not a Czech myself but I enjoy learning about this living community which is so tied to my hometown. Let's see, what else? I went to Cleveland Heights High School, I ran into Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger during one of his morning walks back in 1999, I volunteer with the Cleveland Orchestra every week (so I enjoy all the honeymoon with none of the headache), I prefer cats, I eat whole grain toast w/peanut butter or almond butter every morning, some of my favorite movies are (Au Hasard Balthasar, Bladerunner's 1982 version, Ugetsu, Pickpocket...







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