Fenn College had its origins in 1870, when the Cleveland, Ohio, Young Men's Christian Association began to offer classes to local residents. The YMCA's offerings evolved into Fenn College in 1929. Fenn College was a private institution of higher education. It held classes in numerous buildings in downtown Cleveland, including in former car dealerships. At its peak, Fenn College enrolled just 2,500 students at any one time. In 1965, the State of Ohio purchased Fenn College's buildings and established a commuter college that targeted area residents. This new institution became known as Cleveland State University.