Lorain’s International Legacy

Italian and Swiss Origin


In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the first group of Italian immigrants came to Lorain. It was a small group that came from Sicily and southern Italy. Larger numbers of Italian immigrants , primarily from Northern and Central Italy, came around 1900. Many became employed by the Cleveland, Lorain, Baltimore, and Wheeling railroad companies. However, after 1910 the proportion of Italians immigrants from Naples and Sicily to Lorain rose greatly.

The Italians of Lorain found the Church of St. Peter in 1909 and built their first church in 1914 on W 17th Street. In 1946, the community found the Italian American Veterans Post No. 1 with the goals of, “aiding and assisting veterans and their families and fostering social, civic, historical, athletic, patriotic, musical and scientific activities, and more.”


Many of the Swiss immigrants did not come directly to Lorain. They first immigrated to the Pennsylvania Dutch region, in southeastern part of Pennsylvania, and then migrated to Ohio. Many were contract laborers for the quarries. Once their contracts were over, they came to Lorain to live in a town with a growing community. The Catholic Swiss settled at St. Joseph’s Church in 1896 and the Protestants Swiss help found the United Brethren Church in 1894.