Slovenska Pristava is a private club for Slovenian Catholics in the United States. It was founded by a group of refugees from Slovenia after the Communists took over their homeland. Escaping to the United States, these refugees combined their efforts to bring a taste of the beautiful landscapes of Slovenia to their new homeland. Tucked away in the countryside near Geneva, Ohio, Slovenska Pristava has become a place of relaxation and respite from the daily grind for many Slovenian-Americans and their families and friends.
After World War II a new wave of immigrants from Slovenia came to Cleveland. They settled in the city mostly around the two Slovenian parishes: St. Vitus in the St. Clair neighborhood and St. Mary of the Assumption in Collinwood. The newcomers were active in many organizations especially the Slovenian schools of both parishes
Because they frequented the farms of other Slovenian organizations, they wished to have one of their own. Msgr. Matija Skrbec approached both parish communities to look into obtaining a piece of land for a gathering place, but at the time there was not enough support for such an endeavor. However, in 1958, the idea for the newer immigrants to have a place of their own surfaced once again, this time the brainchild of a young chaplain Rev. Jost Martelanc. He and Hinko Lobe inspired people at both Slovenian schools to pursue the idea. A committee was formed to pave the way for a new Cleveland Slovenian entity “Slovenska Pristava”. A nonprofit corporation with bylaws was formed while Father Martelanc and Hinko Lobe aggressively searched for an appropriate site east of Cleveland. They settled on a piece of land know as Strojin’s farm in the village of Harpersfield. The corporation in the meantime was collecting initiation fees from new members to fund the purchase of the property. In the spring of 1961, the young organization had to borrow had to borrow $8,000 from KSKJ to pay the $21,000 purchase price for Strojin’s farm. The corporations first Shareholders’ meeting was held in February 1962. Jernej Slak became the first president of Slovenska Pristava. Other instrumental people at the infancy of Pristava were: Rev Joze Varga, Marko Sfiligoj, Vonko Vrhovnik, Franc Zorman, Frank Zalar, Jernej Zupan and Matej Roessmann,esq as Pristava’s lawyer. Over the next 40 years many things happened at Slovenska Pristava. The most significant building project undertaken on the newly established Slovenska Pristava involved religion and remembrance. Because one of the goals of the organization was to support the practice of the Catholic faith, a site was needed upon which to build a chapel for regular Masses and other religious services. Msgr. Skrbec chose a hilltop overlooking the picnic grounds as the perfect spot. It was decided that the chapel should also act as a memorial to all those who had been slaughtered during the Communist take-over of Slovenia as well as those who had suffered the horrors of World War II.
The Olympic style swimming pool was built. The kitchen, bar, and main hall were built with expansions of Lobe Hall, kitchen, bathrooms and bar facilities. In the late 1980′s, Andrej Kozjek and other Pristava tradesmen built the dance pavilion. In 1998 a new alpine style house replaced the original caretaker’s house at the entrance. A year later a water reservoir was built, a very important addition for Pristava’s future, since there is no city water. The camping area has been expanded and cute cottages are sprouting up already. The children’s playground has been improved every year. Most of this work for the last 10 years has been done or initiated by Frank Kogovsek and Stane Rus. In the past Slovenska Pristava has had a sports club and sporting events every season. It even had its own ski jump! Many soccer games were played, tennis and volleyball tournaments were held.
Within the corporation are also other clubs like the Pensioners, Campers group and Balinca players. They all have their own events and contribute to the life and fun on Slovenska Pristava. Slovenska Pristava exists for everyone with a Slovenian heart to enjoy friends, music, food, fresh air, and a Slovenian atmosphere.