Educating Myself – Gettin’ My 52 On in Evanston

This is the thirty-second in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.

I walked Evanston because I could easily drive to XU. XU had been the site of my son’s first love affair with college basketball. A young neighbor of ours in Loveland had volunteered as XU’s ball boy, and after Davis’ father died, lots of neighbors pitched in to take Davis to games I didn’t have the heart to go.

I started my walk in the southwest corner of Evanston along Victory Parkway. Passing by the Walnut Hills cemetery, I was alarmed by the number of of graveyards I had “frequented” in the past three neighborhoods. Luckily, I had been walking at dawn! I passed the former Hoffman school. Later, I would walk around its backside and learn more.

I tread along the long winding greenway of Victory Parkway, with a quick exit to Walnut Hills High School. I had honestly never been to Walnut hills, not for a day, until one of my new neighbors in OTR asked me to pick up her daughter. It was an impressive campus. I would have loved access to a school like that, but without the pressure.

Crossing Dana, I hit the boundaries of Xavier. There was nothing I hated more, hated, than a sidewalk that ended along university property, but alas, it did.

Then the walkway began again along the backside of the campus where the operations department operated.

However constrained Xavier was by their surroundings, the school was attempting to create more green, green space around the campus.

Despite the killer heat, I moved on. Walking Dana, I contemplated how long I really wanted to endure that day. I had, in my sight, a pedestrian bridge over I-71. I had always noticed the bridge from the highway, but never knew where it originated from or led.

So, I moseyed towards the Red Cross Center,  located near the site of a former pool. It was now a recreation area supported by the Bengals through their Hometown Huddle efforts. I would love to see more support by those athletes who make millions. Our recreation centers and pools needed sustainable funds. Every summer, the city always tried to play catch up.

After getting caught in the tangle of security gates around the Red Cross Center, I did find the origin of the pedestrian bridge and followed it like a rainbow.

Traffic that morning snarled. One of these days, I planned to stand near a city center highway exit with a sign that read, “If you lived here, you’d still be sleeping.”

On the other side of I-71, Evanston’s homes were charming. Smaller homes led towards the backside of East Walnut Hills. A mix of historic and well-maintained home ran along Fairfax Avenue as I marched back towards where I thought I left my car.

I soon realized I had cut off a portion of the neighborhood and circled back around Hackberry near several cemeteries. Calvary Cemetery and the Jewish Cemetery. Again, the cemeteries.

One observation I made as of late. Many neighborhoods did not have “for sale” signs in yards. So, I assumed homes were either under auction, in a land bank or moving fast in some of the inner-ring neighborhoods.

An older couple sat on their front porch as I slowly ended my walk. I loved front porches, and had they asked me to sit, I would have jumped at the chance to plop down and join in.

“Hey girl,” the woman called out.

“Hey, good morning.”

“You gonna beat that heat today?”

“Trying.”  I was nearing the end of my walk, so I was clipped on my conversation.

“You gotta take me with you next time?”

Her question made me pause and laugh. Sometimes, the walks had felt like a chore. In particular as I trudged through searing heat or blinding rain.

I wish I had accumulated names of the many faces I had met or chatted with. But on another level, I loved the aspect of possibly meeting again, of me possibly treading on these same walks.

I turned down Woodward and came upon a baseball field where I experienced a not so deja vu. When Davis played baseball, he had coach who had developed a relationship with other coaches with teams nearer to the city center. I knew that field. Hoffman Field. There is no way for me to explain its familiarity other than the orientation of the field and the street conspired to bring back fond memories. As it happened, the field was undergoing repair, in preparation for a big weekend in Evanston.

In two days time, I would read more about the good work in Evanston, around Hoffman park and playground, including a zip line at the Evanston Recreation Center.  It’s a good thing I hadn’t known more then. I might have stayed there to play all day.

Evanston called themselves The Educating Community. They too were getting on the bandwagon of mottos for who they wanted to be, how they wanted outsiders to experience their community. With XU, Walnut Hills, Academy of World Languages, Alliance Academy and Evanston Academy, the moniker was hard to argue.

In 1893, Evanston was incorporated and named after the suburb in Chicago. As an eventual bedroom community, their tax base was faltering and therefore annexation by the city was attractive. In the 1950’s the neighborhood was divided into the black side and white side. According to the community council website, when a black preacher moved to the white side, the community turned as whole and become 95% African American.

And when the interstate cut through the business center, that action effectively removed all remaining aspects of Evanston’s business district.

Currently, the community was implementing a ten-year plan (2013-2023), which I applaud and they probably got some support from a few education neighbors who were very good at urban planning.

In the past, I had considered Evanston one of those nondescript neighborhoods. But the surrounds came to life via my footsteps, my interactions and news of the playground. It was no longer comprised of just sidewalks that ended in the shadows of the university. It was community that shone on it own.

Cultivating Friends & Flowers – Gettin’ My 52 On in Avondale


This is the thirty-first in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.

FullSizeRenderThe rains the past week were messing with my non-schedule of 52 walks. I stayed closer to home for the sake of time and tempests and drove to Avondale, beginning in the southeast corner of the neighborhood at Burnett Ave. and Taft.

FullSizeRender_2IMG_1982Walking along Burnett, a pedestrian is aware of the medical complexes, hospitals and social services that accompanied one along the sidewalk. A business district that once existed had been eradicated after the riots in the 60’s. (Cincinnati has a long history of rioting). I was also becoming mindful of the sprawl created by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, named number three in the country, and their planned expansion. A larger Ronald McDonald House. More research. More buildings. More parking. More cars. Less neighborhood.

FullSizeRenderThe Cincinnati Herald was housed inside a secondary Children’s Hospital building. Founded in 1955, the African-American newspaper was published every Wednesday and partly owned by Eric Kearney, a former Ohio state senator.IMG_1984

As I approached Rockdale, I saw signs of new townhomes and renovated historic buildings, as well as the Rockdale Academy. I would learn later that this FullSizeRender_1area too was in the sights of the Children’s expansion.

Turning along Erckenbrecher Street, many historic homes had already lost the battle to the hospital giant. As an average bystander, I felt overwhelmed by the takeover and sense of vacancy and depravation.FullSizeRender_2

You can read more about this contentious, yet oddly supported by city council, issue. According to the Avondale community council president, Children’s has purchased over 100 homes in the past years to create their, well, footprint.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 11.37.53 AMWhat does the cost benefit analysis say about the long-term health of a community versus the long-term health of patients coming in from out of town, state, country?

FullSizeRender_1As I approached the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, a distinct odor filled the air. That of animal stink, emanating from the zoo. The zoo’s growth too had happened at the cost of the neighborhood.

FullSizeRenderI walked down Vine, to Erhman and circled around Forest, and back up Vine. I didn’t often get turned around, but in Avondale I did.

As I pushed my legs up the Vine Street hill, I noticed an older gentleman sitting on his second-story porch. He lived in a home with the garage below street level.

“Morning.”

“Morning,” he said and waved me back. “You walking around here?

I was forced to explain my presence, on a near rainy morning.

“How many you done?”

“31.”

“Then you got 21 to go.” I didn’t need his help in the math department, but at least he knew how many neighborhoods were in Cincinnati. “I’m hoping for more for encouragement and less math,” I joked back.

We had a short exchange about his growing up in Georgia and me in northern Ohio.

“So why you doing this?”

“To keep my mind young. How old are you?”

“89,” he proudly shared.

“Wow. What’s your secret?”

“Staying away from stupidity and prejudice.”

The gentlemen spoke at great length on the two subjects. On the latter, he referenced a Christian upbringing several times. “You Christian?”

“Yes.”

“Then you know, the church where you go, that’s not really the church. You the church. You out here, walking these streets, talking to this old man. That’s the church.”

I felt blessed that morning, and, in the back of mind, also wondered how many more miles I still had to walk to get to my car before the rain.

“You live alone?” Oops, I didn’t want him to think I was some random stalker.

“No. got my wife whose 78.”

“Oh, so that’s you’re secret to staying young.”

He just smiled, his white teeth brightening the gray mouse morning. “You ever come back, you knock on my door and I’ll introduce you.”

“Deal.”

FullSizeRender_2I ventured back towards Reading Road and encountered what felt like entire blocks boarded up, waiting to be swallowed by the whale.

That seemed to be the theme, other than the portion of the neighborhood where Calvin lived. I wondered how many homes would be left once the zoo and Children’s ate up all the lots.

The new Martin Luther King intersection certainly will add to that process as well as to commerce along Reading, if it hasn’t already done so.

I continued my march down Reading, conscious of the skies while passing in and out of side streets, past the American Cancer Association Lodge, the former Vernon Manor, once considered “the” place to stay for musicians including Bob Dylan, and a few miscellaneous buildings now relegated to time served.

The Cincinnati Civic Garden Center was located at the intersection of Taft and Reading. To the hundreds of passengers in car that drive past each day, the center may only be a grove of trees.

But to a questing pedestrian, it was a wanderland of plants and flowers and secret paths and good work in the community. As I moseyed along the paths, I rapped at the window of a woman working in a nearby office.

It was Karen Kahle, the center’s marketing and development director, and Findlay Market friend.

I sat with Karen for a while, procrastinating from the now certain rain, and we chatted about broad range of personal and professional topics. While the civic garden was known to more of insiders, with Karen helping its transformation, I am certain more citizens will become enthusiastic guests of the lush gardens and trails.

Before I left, Karen wished me luck and pointed me in the direction of the elm couch. Every one needs an elm couch.

I ran through the garden and rain that day exuberant, re-energized from a walk that had emotionally worn me down. People had less and less of a voice regarding their communities and I wasn’t sure what the solution was.

Dancing in the rain amidst the flowers was certainly a start. Perhaps Calvin could join me next time. After all, this, every last inch of the sidewalk, every last breath, was my church.

Hangin’ with the Ancestors – Gettin’ My 52 on in Spring Grove Village

* This is the thirtieth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.

My father would have loved Spring Grove Village. He lived for driving around to seek out plant and flower nurseries. On Sundays, he was sent forth by Mom to find just the right shade salmon in geraniums. On my walk around Spring Grove Village, I discovered a stretch of three greenhouses, each a reminder of my father.

But before I reached that row, I had to pass through the cemetery. That one. The famous one. Spring Grove Cemetery. Where every goes to be buried. Or, at least, every one did.

Two years ago, I purchased a Segway tour through Spring Grove Cemetery for Mark on Father’s Day.  After many minutes of stops and starts and turns (I truly thought they would kick me off the tour), we were wheeling past the graves of Krogers and Schmidlapps and Corbetts. A veritable Who’s Who in last century. As we whizzed down a short hill, I suddenly pulled off to the side, despite being coached not to.

And there, in plain sight, were the headstones for the Mueller family. Our Mueller family. The one who had built our home at 1419 Race Street and occupied it in various forms over the next 40 years.

If a person was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, one can easily research the name to find the location. That evening, following our ride, I went home to do just that. I discovered Vater Mueller died of a “paralytic stroke”. Mutter Mueller, “fattening of the heart”. Of their six children, four were buried at Spring Grove. Oscar died of a “homicide-gunshot”. Charles, Jr., “suicide gun shot”, Alma, “suicide. William, “St. Vitus Dance” or “chorea” – a disorder characterized by jerky movements.

I had no need to read more about the Muellers. I had learned enough.

I cut through to the back or north gate of the cemetery which led onto Gray Road, and walked along a very sketchy sidewalk, more a worn-path, leading to three greenhouses, A.J. Rahn, Osterbrock and Funke’s.

Since the late 1800’s, the area had been known as Wooden Shoe Hollow and was home to 19 family-run operations which produced vegetables sold at local markets.

I turned back around and crossed over Winton Road. The Winton Place Public School building was now Winton Preparatory Academy, a public charter school. (Readers can learn more about the public schools in Hamilton County that were closed and sold).

IMG_1890I had read that churches of 15 denominations were located within Spring Grove Village. I found four, but I hadn’t tried too hard. The corner at Epworth also included Harmony Lodge, available for rent, which once operated as the town hall.

The actual village area was a quiet, residential quarter section of the neighborhood. There had been more traffic running through the cemetery than through the neighborhood. But the community sprouted a civic garden space, a recreation center and a pool.

Later, I found myself walking along a more industrial quarter as well, until I approached the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Mitchell. On the northwest corner, at the intersection of Superior Honda, a horse racing and amusement park, Chester Park, once existed.

Spring Grove Village was formerly known as Mill Creek Township and Spring Grove, as well as Winton Terrace. Several homes were designed by Samuel Hannaford though I hadn’t researched well enough in advance to find them.

Taft Ale House is developing a new tap room nearby, and Salway Park (part of the Cincinnati Recreation Center), across from the Spring Grove entrance, supports the Mill Creek Greenway bike trail which one can take all the way back to the river, while also stopping at the Old Timber Inn for “fish rolls and rubens”.

Spring Grove has benefitted from the greenway and its proximity to the burgeoning Northside neighborhood.

With access to a large Kroger’s and the highway (though there is the Brent Spence backup), its an easily approachable area where I can occasionally bike ride, find a muse for my morning finds or commune with the ancestors to see what kind of progress Cincinnati has actually made.IMG_1903

The week after I walked Spring Grove, I noticed the color in my potted plants had waned. Instead of following my usual path towards a garden center near my mother’s home, I went back to Spring Grove and bought plants from all three nurseries. I had my “52” walks and my father to credit, for opening my mind to color and logging the mileage to do so.

 

 

 

 

Echoes of the Future – Gettin’ My 52 On in East Price Hill

* This is the twenty-ninth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.

Part One

The day after Fourth of July started as overcast. I drove across W. Eighth Street and parked my car at Mt. Echo Park. This was not my first visit to the 73-acre park, but certainly only my third or fourth. Early on, after our move to the city, I had driven our son, Davis, to the lookout, to show off my findings. Later, when I needed to think, I drove to this park.

I had been awestruck by the perspective from there. For so long, everyone raved about the view from Mt. Adams or Eden Park, or across the river, or on top of some new hotel bar. But Mt. Echo was in the category of “best kept secret”, or at perhaps one west-siders liked to keep themselves.

Late day, 2015.
Sunrise, 2016.

Lucky for me, I had experienced the inherent beauty of the park several times and was not disturbed by sidewalks strewn with red paper as cast offs from fireworks. In fact, the tattered papers littered the entire city, as I would witness later that day. But if that was how Americans exhibited gratitude for freedom, then maybe American’s needed a new definition of freedom.

A woman cleaning up the debris exited the woman’s bathroom.

“Sorry you have to do this.”

She looked at me and said nothing at first.

“But thank you.” An old manager’s adage hit me. “Never ask someone to do a job you wouldn’t want to do yourself.”

She nodded. “At least I got a job.”

I cringed. I hoped Cincinnati Parks ensured that effort was a minor, minor part of her job.

The park overlooked a less-inhabited part of the Ohio River, where there were less barges and gravel pits, and more green space across the water’s span.

From the park, I walked up Elberon and turned left on W. Eighth (the same one that ran into the side of Lower Price Hill, stopped temporarily and picked back up at the top of the hill).

I had once joined a writing circle with my Starfire mentee at Imago Nature Center. The street and a few surrounding ones now comprised of an entire district and had become Enright Eco-village. Many homes, complete with rooster crowing, lined several No Outlet streets prior to my approach to St. Joseph’s cemetery.

The Enright Ecovillage had 80 buildings with 90 households and acted as “an intentional community leading urban revitalization and sustainability.”

Imago boasted of 36 acres of protected urban forest, 16 as an open preserve. They prided themselves on their ability to help the land, as well as a few souls, heal.

St. Joseph Cemetery was founded in 1843 and was formerly known as the German Catholic Cemetery Society. In the 1940’s, 85,000 internments had already been made.

I turned up Rosemont to St. Lawrence and through to Glenway, waving at the occasional porch sitter, until I hit Warsaw. Again, I was fascinated by the view from the sidewalk. I had driven down Warsaw many times, but usually with sights set on a traffic light or a next turn, and not the actual streetscape itself.

There, I found a Kroger, a yet-to-be finished Artworks project, and the Elder and Seton High Schools. The Moeller alum at home will want to know that I walked to the Pit, well, as far as they would let an outsider venture.

I understood the mystique a little better. Also, they would never let slip that Elder began as a co-ed school and operated that way for its first five years. Seton High School, founded in 1857, was nearby, but I couldn’t get too close, as much of the area was under construction. That high school was begun in 1927 following the separation of genders from Elder.

Along Glenway to Warsaw, I passed by St. Lawrence Church and spotted the St. Lawrence Bakery.

As I entered, my eyes first landed on the cinnamon danish and traveled over to the crème horns.

“Do you know, I’ve worked here 11 years, and never had one,” the clerk confessed.

“Wow, you’re either lucky or smart.”

“Just don’t have a sweet tooth.” She grinned.

“Well, if I hadn’t just walked five miles, I would definitely order one. My step-grandmother made these all the time. It was one of the reasons I looked forward to her visits.”

I said my goodbyes and ambled around the bandstand of an armed forces park with waterfall, proceeded past the historical society and back down Elberon.

I was tired. The Danish and humidity had weighed me down more than I had expected. I would have to carve my walk into two parts. I trudged back to my car via a lower road leading back near the park. Yes, East Price Hill had a lower East Price Hill.

Part Two.

That afternoon, I told Shannon and Mark I needed to finish my walk around East Price Hill. The area wouldn’t take long to cover, so I suggested dinner or drinks afterwards.

That day might be the first time I ended a walk early because of a bakery and completed a walk with a beer or wine. We parked near the Incline Public House and marched along Maryland Ave., the site of a former “toll road” because many carriages stopped there. There was also once a tree, Dead Man’s Tree, where funeral corteges rested in the shade.

East Price Hill houses the surrounding neighborhoods’ recreation center, pool and playground, as well as a library.

Around the corner and across the street was an old firehouse turned music center for the renowned MyCincinnati,

MYCincinnati’s mission is to use ensemble-based instrumental music as a tool for youth development and community engagement by providing urban children with access to free, intense, high-quality music education.

We circled Warsaw to Elberon and turned back into the nearby streets, passing by
The Holy Family compound. The former pastor of Holy Family spent months traveling Europe for the Byzantine design ideas for Holy Family (convenient, right?) Holy Family had been an off-shoot of St. Lawrence Church and in 1884, had been the first Roman Catholic church to do so. The school was the once the site of Library Hall, which acted as an “opry” house and assembly for all of Price Hill.

A quick search on the county auditor’s website revealed that 31 properties in and around EPH were owned by Price Hill Will. The development corporation was assisting the neighborhood in its comeback. And the community, whose property values were beginning to rise, was quiet with a mix of newly renovated and maybe never going to be renovated, but displaying a lawn jockey on their front lawn, kind of mix.

We ended our walk at the Incline House, site of the origin of the old Price Hill Incline. The first one was completed in 1874. It is said there existed one day when 30,000 passengers took the incline up the hill, to enjoy the view and imbibe, though William Price, the founder of Price Hill, was anti-liquor and thus the hill was once called Buttermilk Mountain. Hmmm….

We had recently celebrated Mark’s birthday at Primavista and wanted them to work harder to match their menu to the view. But nowadays, Primavista was not the only restaurant in town. Patrons could also enjoy the Incline Public House, Somm Wine Bar, where we met our friends who had recently moved to EPH and noted all the efforts and challenges to bringing three Prices together, which was as hard as bringing three Januzzi’s together. The Veracruz Mexican Grill was expanding and a waffle place would soon join the ranks.

This was a neighborhood with actual squares, real centers of community engagement. According to friends, EPH is gathering with neighbors in LPH and WPH to focus on defining what makes the communities unique and how to stay that way.

When I completed my walk, I went back to my map full of markings and divisions. East Price Hill appeared as a large quilt with squares comprised of distinct districts, sewn together by history and tradition, soaring views and, lucky for the neighbors, crème horns.FullSizeRender (28)

Growing the Soul – Gettin’ My 52 On in Madisonville

* This is the twenty-eighth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.

Logistics determined my walk the day I trekked around Madisonville. I was cramming in tasks before leaving for the weekend. One task included a visit to see Mom, who lived in Kenwood. There were only a few communities I hadn’t walked nearby, so I chose Madisonville. Madisonville had been featured recently as a city neighborhood in the process of branding itself Soul of the City. In a metropolis branded by branding companies, that, of course, made sense.

I parked my car at the intersection of Oaklawn and Madison, an intersection I had known well for over six years. Madisonville was the neighborhood I first called “home” as a writer. The building formerly belonged to the Ironworkers Union, and in the late 90’s, Mary Pierce Brosmer had located Women Writing for (a) Change upstairs from the “Men Working” sign where someone had added the “Wo”.

women_working
Not the original, but close enough.

Every Monday night, I drove Madison Road, to sit in a circle of women who loved words and the world, and found a way to cherish both in the cramped confines of the upstairs space.

I turned north on Madison Road, passing the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, which had a long history or serving Cincinnati’s children and their families. I stared out across the street. The newly-developed site held so many memories for me. Devin and I used to come to the Oakley Drive-in all the time. My mother’s first Cincinnati gerontologist, before we switched to the house doctor, was located in the Christ Hospital Center. I immediately fell in love with a doctor who took away half her medications and gave me back a bit of my mom. And finally, the Red Dog training center was Enzo’s first puppy camp for four weeks. He failed camp, but never me. 

I marched up Madison past the Medpace complex that will eventually hold a new hotel and 200 plus apartments. I am reluctant to say, but fair warning to all who live or pass through, this area is beginning to resemble Fields Ertel, and I hope the onslaught can be slowed or tempered.

As I continued on, I discovered a lovely group of senior housing options and then found myself in the heart of Madisonville, with a variety of homes and businesses strung along my route, some looking like they had just come online, including Mazunte’s MercadoLala’s Bites and Mad Llama coffee. As I ventured up and down various side streets, I noted how many of the homes were well-maintained. I had the distinct notion that residents were determined to live out loud and safely here.

I circled near Camargo, which became Plainville, and the homes began to resemble those of Mariemont. I had viewed a map prior to setting out, but when I sighted the Mariemont tower, I was shocked by the proximity and walkability of this hidden gem of a community.

At the next intersection’s bus stop, I noticed a woman drawing and journaling while she sat on a bench. I nodded towards her paper pad. “Are you a writer?” I could spot them a mile away.

She smirked. “Sort of.”

“Well, don’t say ‘sort of’. I’m a writer too and you need to declare it.”

She and I had a good laugh as I turned the corner to ramble down Bramble.

At this point, I had no idea where I was, but knew I was heading in the general direction towards Red Bank Road. So, I trudged up the hill and back down and around, until I came upon an intersection I had passed millions a times in my twenties, but didn’t recognize it from the sidewalk view. I only knew the perspective if I had been in my car. A clear lesson in how viewpoints change when our feet are firmly on the ground and not on the accelerator.

I turned down the quick cut of Brotherton and sent out text. Soon, I was inside Bella Forza Fitness, taking a break to see my sister, Beth Januzzi Underhill, owner and butt-kicker extraordinaire. Until that day, I had never considered her studio to be located in Madisonville.

I still had miles to go, so I left Beth to kick a few more butts and walked up the rest of Red Bank, past the driver’s license office, a Christ Hospital surgery center where Mark never works out of, but his partners do. The new Tap and Screw brewery was located behind this stretch and planned to open soon. I crossed Red Bank to travel north on Madison again and returned to the block that houses Starfire.

Five years ago, I facilitated a writing group at WWfaC, for participants from WWfaC and Starfire. As a mentor to Michelle, one of the participants, I came to witness firsthand the challenges faced by young adults with developmental disabilities and how their families and those young adults desire to live an ordinary life. An outgrowth of that circle was the free writing group that still met at Roh’s Café every other Tuesday, under the moniker Write Me, I’m Yours, and the friendship that continued to blossom and encompass other writers because of our time at Starfire. And our fearless leaders, Eva and Michelle, still are the heart of our group.

Madisonville was originally named after James Madison when it was founded in 1809. Its first settler was Joseph Ward who had two sons named Israel and Usual. Nothing unusual about that! They settled in nearby Columbia until realizing the area’s potential for flooding and they moved. Though my walks and blogs are about Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, one should read a Wikipedia entry for Columbia Township, to understand of how ridiculous our borders are at times. Columbia Township was really a mash up of islands of land surrounded by the city or other neighboring entities.

Madisonville was also once home to one of Cincinnati’s first all-black neighborhoods called Dunbar, a neighborhood paved over for the sake of the Red Bank Expressway. The community was so tight that former neighbors still gathered and chatted about roosters and horses in the neighbor’s corral.

The neighborhood was also a first in branding itself Soul of the City, a moniker that resonated with me that day. The soul was where callings originated from and wantings were born. As I had once done as a writer, this community was desiring of more.

I researched Madisonville’s community council and development corporation, and discovered a document constructed in 2012, calling for a Quality of Life Plan in six areas: economic development, health and wellness, the built environment, community engagement, arts and culture, and education and youth.

I applauded the community for their forward-looking nature, and recognized the difficulty in comparing to my own neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. Madisonville had a separate set of complexities, each community does. This neighborhood will flourish without the scrutiny given to OTR because of its encompassing the nearby city center, places of activism, large-scale arts centers and tourism. It’s a neighborhood worth relishing and one that will certainly be of interest to future residents for years to come.

Here I Come – Gettin’ My 52 on in California

* This is the twenty-seventh in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

Mark was off for the week, prior to a wedding invite. I prodded him to join me in California.

While California was the largest U.S. state by population. California was also Cincinnati’s smallest neighborhood, located along the Ohio River, with residents numbering around 500. Some months, the neighborhood also had no reported crime.

“I’m warning you, this one won’t be much fun. There’s interstates, waste treatment sites and a complete lack of sidewalks.”

He accompanied me regardless.

We parked near the Champions Baseball Academy, where I thanked my lucky stars Davis no longer played the game. While baseball was a beautiful game, it was also a painfully long game, and our son’s impatience he obviously inherited from me.

We started with the worst of walk. That is, walking along a narrow path beneath I-275, to circle around a triangle of California that existed on the other side of the highway. That piece consisted primarily of Coney Island. Of course, Coney Island HAD to be in California, to imply fun. Ironically, I had just observed my first Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making, where the focus had been on Coney Island and amusement parks. The park was closed, and it was doubtful the attendant would let me pass through just because “I’m walking all 52 neighborhoods.”

Yet, I have fond memories of Moonlight Gardens. More important, they were memories of my parents, who visited my older sister and I, and then my younger sister, so often, they really did consider the notion of moving to Cincinnati. But there was always something holding Dad back from making the move happen.

Copyright WeddingWire.com

But my parents danced beneath the stars to the sounds of the Big Band era at Moonlight Gardens on occasion, compliments of whenever we bought them tickets.

We crossed over Kellogg and started up Sutton. Only one-half of Sutton was located in California, and that half, as well as the other, had no sidewalks. I did fear for my life because of traffic, more so than I had while walking neighborhoods others might not step foot in.

When it became clear our lives were clearly in danger, we turned back around to Kellogg, proceeded beneath I-275 again and paced ourselves along the road where a few historic homes overlooked the road and river. We caught a heavy whiff of the treatment plant and I hoped the residents who lived in California were not subjected to that odor on a daily basis.

A former schoolhouse had once hosted a Cincinnati Rec Center. Now, the building was home to the California Heritage Foundation

Past the Cincinnati Water Works, we marched through grass. (Aside: Cincinnati water has been study as an option to bottle our own.)

The lack of sidewalks along Kellogg made it difficult to “feel” a neighborhood feel here, when I could not even easily access the Nature Preserve or Golf Course on foot. 

Convinced there was another way to circle around, we ducked down the driveway of the Nature Preserve, occupying 113 acres of forest. Near the center, a parking lot created by pavers sat over top of a former pool, and the center had been the pool house. Though the bridge was closed that day, we managed to hit all the stepping stones to cross the creek. There were several well-maintained trails, but here was a hiking suggestion discovered online, written by a CityBeat writer several years ago.

The park also hosts plenty of summer camps, in case one is still looking to get the kids out of the house.

We found comfort in the woods that day, dissecting a contentious OTR Community Council held the night before, where several community organizers had questioned the process used in the voting procedures to elect new board members. It’s a given OTRCC will always be contentious, there were so many factions competing with other for the louder, stronger narrative.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. – John Muir

Immersed in the forest, I slowed my mind and soul, to take in what nature intended. I had practiced yoga before our walk, and thus, my heart now took in its full complement of oxygen and life, returning me to a restorative state.

We circled around the backside of the golf course where Davis on occasion had played. Mark commented how there would be a little less golf in the household with Davis now gone for the summer. We headed down Apple Hill, crossed over Kellogg and walked through the actual neighborhood portion of California. There were approximately 12 streets along this area that abutted the river. One of those streets included the private yacht Satisfaction Cruise Line.

But the number of homes was insignificant and much of the land sat empty, most likely due to flood plains.

During our walk of the last portion, Califorinia felt more like country than city.

California had been named Grove City, after Coney Island’s original name. According to some old timers where my mother lives, boats once to transported passengers from the landing in downtown out to Coney Island for the day. I would do that, even at night, to miss the traffic generated during Riverbend Concerts. For the record, Riverbend had a Coney Island address, but that too had been unreachable due to the hours of the park.

California had a small business district, and an active council and development corporation, which helped advocate for development around the area.

Further beyond along Kellogg Ave, which we had eschewed on our walk, was Rivertowne Marina. There began more bike/walk access. Reading through the newsletter archives, California was in line for that access to continue.

For someone who spent many summers at Riverbend, and a few summers at Sunlite Pool, I was refreshed to see the “more” to the neighborhood. To position myself in a time and place when rivers flooded land and tears flooded lives.

The cross-section of the Little Miami and Ohio River was a dangerous place to create a settlement. A few of the homes appeared historic, and some had upgraded to a pool. The views back to Bellevue were stunning, which is why I suspect many generations who lived here had grown accustomed to living on the second or third floor when required, and probably liked it that way. And every once in a while, as John Muir says, their spirit and home were washed clean.

 

 

Resurrecting Lost Italians – Gettin’ My 52 On in the CBD

FullSizeRender (24)* This is the twenty-sixth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

“You would make a lousy politician,” my husband said to me once. “Because you don’t like to share the streets and parks with others.”

“That’s not true,” I moaned. “I just like the quiet, so I can experience the city through my own eyes and not while bumping into others.”

So, I rose before dawn on the longest day of the year to walk the Central Business District, the city, downtown. However one referred to it.

I have walked every street and alley in the downtown region, as well as the backways and shortcuts, some out of necessity, others out of curiosity. It would be a challenge to find a way to connect to the city for the purpose of these walks and not diverge into other areas of history, alleys, murals, etc.

But, I would diverge, regardless.

My first effort began with heading towards the east end of downtown and the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. I love the park’s version of the “Bean” which offered a flattering look back at oneself and not the overly distorted one. I also discovered this quote by Mr. Berry and its relevance to what I am personally, if not professionally and certainly not financially, accomplishing through these treks.

Then next challenge arose when I turned back towards Sawyer Point and downtown. Which way would I choose? I wanted the park to be its own neighborhood, for it often felt such in early morning, and because I had too much ground to cover.

The cherry red awning of Montgomery Inn shone brightly that morning and when the restaurant first opened in 1989, my sister, Laura and I took every parent, sibling and guest there over many years’ time.

Moseying along Sawyer Point, the volleyball courts were once the site of an AVP tournament I used to attend, and there were bricks along the point, when the park was renovated, which my sister and I donated to its fundraiser, but I had yet to determine our brick’s exact location. 

I bypassed the rest of Yeatman’s Cove (named for a well-patronized tavern on the river back in 1793) and Serpentine Wall because both spaces were iconic and ubiquitous. I turned up through parking lots to pass by the Anne Louise Inn, now owned by Western-Southern after a nasty ownership battle. Renovations were coming along on the proposed economic development, but I was there for another reason.

Behind the Inn, at Third and Lytle, in the late 1800’s, two Italian nuns had formed the Santa Maria Institute to support the assimilation of Italian immigrants in Cincinnati. At the end of the 19th century, there had been 8,000 Italians living in Cincinnati. (Italians of Greater Cincinnati). Now, that number of descendants was closer to 44,000.

And what I was learning and witnessing was that an entire subculture or ethnic group had been easily erased from Cincinnati’s history. For instance, one can read this brochure, which was handed out during the last Woman’s City Club meeting when Maria Hinojosa spoke, and see there were no reference to Italians, who contributed greatly to this city.

Further up Pike Street is the American Book Company Building, which is where William McGuffey (of the famed McGuffey readers) got his start through Winthrop Smith who tapped him to create “eclectic” readers, textbooks that espoused the values of honesty and hard work. The books were used often in Cincinnati Public Schools. According to legend, no McGuffey ever made money off those readers, but a few publishers did. I can totally relate. (Literary Cincinnati is worth a read for those wanting to know more).

I have referenced this fact before, but the annex of Proctor and Gamble was built over a demolished Church of the Sacred Heart at 527 Broadway. Sacred Heart was THE church for the Italians and had been built in 1890. It was another nod to corporate interests in a move that is now all too familiar in cases such as the Dennison Hotel.

I traveled along Fourth Street to where Mark was a patron of the Salzano Brothers barbershop, carrying on the tradition of Italians in Cincinnati. Mark always comes home speaking in a Italian. Like that’s gonna make him one.

The apartments at Fourth and Plum used to advertise, If you lived here, you’d be home. My first husband, Devin, lived at Fourth & Plum in his twenties, and until now, I never thought of him as an urban dweller. Perhaps at the time, we didn’t have the many distinctive labels that separate us all now.

In the spot where the Duke Convention Center sprawls, Peter and Stella Cetrulo opened another barbershop. It was known Peter sang arias as he cut his customer’s hair. I wondered if the Salzano Brothers had brought back that tradition.

Barbershops had been all the rage in the Italian set. Villari’s was opened on Central Avenue, and Angelo Bruno opened a barbershop at 5 Garfield Place and owned it for 36 years before selling to Fausto Ferrari in 1967. I’m not sure if Fausto is still there, since that’s not my thing, but the latest Yelp reviews had not been kind.

Passing along City Hall, I was trying to locate an area on W. 8th Street. I had read that along the 600 block of W. 8th, many Italians had once made their home. There was also a nursery, a welfare center and St. Vincent Apts. That stretch too was gone, replaced by parking. Though I had found plenty of connections to Italians in Camp Washington and also South Fairmont, where I had yet to walk, from my vantage point, Italians disappeared from the collective memory of many historians of Cincinnati, other than reference guides such as this: http://globalcincinnati.org/resources-2/cultural-guides/italian/

Produce had also been a mainstay for Italians hoping to start a new life. The Sansone family hosted a market at Vine and Walnut on Court, after the Canal Market was torn down. The city once had Joe Lasita & Sons produce wholesalers, and today, still is home to the Castellini Company. Further north, a passerby might also notice Catanzaro trucks, started in Springfield, Ohio.

Finally, Italians were and are excellent tailors, and the DiPilla Family was well-known in town, during the early 1900’s for their work on W. 8th Street.

Several dining establishments in the business district, Scotti’s and Campanello’s, still carried the Italian traditions, and some, like Via Vite, upgraded the experience. But my husband knows I don’t patronize establishments that can’t compete with my mother’s cooking. That’s just a hallmark of good Italian, to disdain anything that Mamma didn’t make.

The book, Italians of Greater Cincinnati, kept me occupied for days. While Cincinnati was once comprised of 60% of Germans, I informed Mark, the rest had to come from somewhere and they did. There had been multitudes of participants at Columbus Day parades over the years. I know, Columbus is no longer P.C., but tradition is worth holding on to. And am thankful to be in a city where Italians have held on (we always have a hard time letting go), even if the city, in many ways, has let go of them.

I conceded to time, on my tour of Italians in the downtown region, but resolved to keep pushing to learn more, join one of the Italian societies, find the deli that made the sausage at the Cincinnati Italian Festival and push for a sister city in the future. Afterall, Italians were all about la famiglia.

Making My Own Major – Gettin’ My 52 On in The Heights

* This is the twenty-fifth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

Though nearly halfway through my 52, already I was formulating a new plan in my life. Or at least an imagined plan.

With summer heat hot on my heels , early morning walks were becoming imperative. I met up with Mark, who had been on call the night before and now sported long, hiking pants in the encroaching sizzle.

We trekked up Vine Street where the street meets Taft and began our walk of The Heights. The Heights was its own neighborhood and mostly encompassed the University of Cincinnati. While Mark attended UC for post-graduate work, he was the only one in the family who obtained a degree from UC. Still, we marveled at the impressive campus, while also knowing there was an arms race in dorm building that happened here too, leading to more expenses for students.

We passed the parking garage and The Bubble, where many of the sports teams practice in winter. According to UC, “from November through February, the 100-yard field becomes an indoor practice facility, covered by an air-supported bubble that maintains an interior temperature of 50-60 degrees. This gives the athletic department an additional 72,200 square-feet of space for athletics events and competitions.”

On a Sunday morning, walking Nippert Stadium, which everyone knew by now as the alt-arena for FC Cincinnati, there were countless runners punishing themselves by running the bleachers. Also noted, every sporting arena was named after a well-known somebody, Lindner, Schott, Sheakley, Gettler.

There was no music that day emanating from the Corbett Center for Performing Arts or the Dieterle Vocal Arts Center. (Yes, you would recognize that name as Louise Dieterle Nippert). I encourage readers to learn more about the Nipperts (who came from Gamble money) here.

We passed between the App Lab of the Student Center, the Student Life Center and Baldwin Hall, the site of the Engineering building built in 1908. Baldwin was a guy with no ties to Cincinnati other than “I made money in Cincinnati” and gave close to $700K to make that building happen.

We moseyed on through the Zimmer Roof Garden, who knew we were on the roof of the Zimmer Auditorium? As we proceeded down the steps of Library Square, we looked down over more construction and gave a backward glance at the Engineering research center.

From there, we crossed into Burnet Woods, thankful for the cover of shade. Burnet is a City of Cincinnati park and encompasses 90 acres, with a pond, nature center and bandstand. The bandstand was built in the same style of Washington Park and Eden Park. Burnett also boasts of a little-known outside of Cincinnati from a tourist standpoint Wolff Planetarium, the oldest west of the Allegheny Mountains.

When the parks levy was on the ballot, there had been a proposal to build a concession stand in Burnett Words, but this was place that did not need disturbing, especially for the birds’ sake. The area was named an “important birding site” by the Audubon Society.

We circled back out along Ludlow, to the fountain that greets all park visitors from the northern edge. The neighborhood also included the stretch along Clifton Avenue containing the fraternity and sorority houses and another enclave of homes that I had included in a previous walk, before learning that I had “overstepped” my bounds.

When not hot, when school’s in campus, the area was certainly a more lively walk and Mark and I had enjoyed many of them, just not on the day when the temperature was encroaching upon 90 by nine.

According to Google maps, The Heights included Fries Café (another old haunt) and Cactus Pear, which was the best place for margaritas before Bakersfield of course. But according to various neighborhood signs, some of these areas competed for naming rights.

The University traces it beginnings to a charter in 1918 and now boasts of over 44,000 students. The Bearcat nickname originated from a football player named Baehr and immortalized by the student newspaper cartoonist.

UC has had many PR nightmares, from the University of Cincinnati police officer shooting of Sam DuBose to sexual harassment lawsuits. Recently, the baseball coach left abruptly and the school recruited its crosstown rival coach. And UC football is struggling to be invited to a larger conference.

But many of my friends have attended or worked there. Many children of friends have made their way through the hallowed halls. And the school itself boasts of the world-renowned engineering and co-op programs, business programs and the DAAP school, where once I upon a time, I fashioned myself an architect or planner. These walks have heightened my interest in urban architecture or planning, or just urban connecting through art. Many artists and community engagement individuals now call themselves social artists. I wonder if any of those designations would be considered a major for a degree?

After age 50, shouldn’t we all get to make our own majors?

 

An Origin Story – Gettin’ My 52 On in Oakley

* This is the twenty-fourth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

One life has many origin stories. This is one of my mine.

Two houses awaited my approach at the end of my walk in Oakley. Mark was on call that Saturday morning, and I parked in the lot of the Hitching Post, the furthest point from those homes and trekked south along Edwards Road, past the Malton Gallery.

Many of the roads into Oakley’s residential neighborhood had been blocked off over time, to eliminate traffic pass-throughs from the Rookwood retail developments into the once quiet streets of Oakley.

In my “youth”, I spend plenty of time running and walking these stretches and found the homes as charming as I recalled. Though I didn’t remember the multitudes of allegiances proudly demonstrated through the various flags hung outside each home along certain streets.

I followed along and turned onto Minot. Once I got my bearings, I realized this area was a potential space for the FC Cincinnati MLS stadium. Ironically, I would be in conversations later in the week with a young couple who lived in proximity, and absolutely did not want a stadium there because they felt it would upend the neighborhood. Anyone who has entered and exited off the Rookwood exchange knows the traffic backup nightmare that already exists. I tended to agree with them.

I passed through the more industrial section to Oakley. And I would learn more of the history later in my research. But, as I walked the curve, I delighted in coming up the Brazee Street Studios where my friend Sara Pearce has a studio. Sara’s Paper with a Past artwork hangs in my home, but she became a closer friend when she and her friends invited me to march with them in Washington.

The stretch of retail shops in front of Brazee along Madison Road is worth checking out and the merchants have their own retail walk. The establishment that was now Maribelle’s, once belonged to a Jean-Robert, French-Vietnemese restaurant. The location was also home to southern-inspired restaurant whose name escaped me.

Most people knew Oakley for one of two establishments. Crossroads and Madtree. Mark and I had recently visited Madtree and understood what the buzz was all about. Also, the parking, was a little harebrained. Being from “the city”, we also wondered how much one could really make this a walkable destination and from where. But it’s a great spot and addition of pizza was a brilliant move.

I rounded the corner down Ridge to Brotherton, past a new favorite, The Wheel, then retraced my steps back up Brotherton to Club View Drive. Another group of charming streets were within sight, many renovated hobbit-like homes that backed up to the Hyde Park Golf Course, which part of Oakley encircles, but did not belong.

I trekked up, down and around some of the hills  of Marburg. I had an agenda. Near Paxton, I landed at the playground.

I stood on the tennis courts, where I once took a few hits, literally, playing with my first husband, Devin, and friends. I stared out at a certain home across the street. My older sister’s friend, Nancy, lived there for a quite a while. She rented the space, and finally, after much contemplation, she bought a quaint home in Madeira. Nancy had a spirit that could lift the dead. She brightened up any room she entered, and was a dedicated social worker at Children’s. I also don’t think Nancy ever slept, worried as she was about all children, and committed as she was, to living a full life.

Shortly after Nancy’s move to Madiera, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, she did smoke, but she was waaayy too young to have developed a habit long enough for such an incidious cancer to take her so soon.

Nancy died the year Devin was scheduled to receive his bone marrow transplant. I had last seen her seated on the porch, with breathing machine nearby, and we waved goodbye before leaving for Seattle. Nancy and I had bonded as individuals do, over a disease that had and would alter the course of our lives.

Nancy’s death hit Devin and me hard, because, like so many others, we had held out hope for our own cause. Her death shocked and shook us in a way numbers and percentages could not.

FullSizeRender (20)Ironically, after Devin’s diagnosis and prior to Nancy’s, she had visited Churchill Downs as an avid, annual participant in Derby festivities. In a show of support and awareness of bone marrow donations, she had sported this sign. The photograph has proudly been displayed in my office ever since (1999).

In an odd twist of Fate, Nancy and Devin and I had also shared a street. Ballard. I turned north and walked up the hill, anxious to see what condition a certain home was still in. Devin owned 4007 Ballard at the time he and I met. I spent countless nights there, before telling my parents I was moving in with him. To save money, of course. We hosted several wild parties, including an oyster bake, when we really didn’t know what that meant, and a few hot tub parties to boot. We were working together at the time, and often drove to our jobs and drove home together, in a weird arrangement that one of us should have stopped long before we started. But, we were young.

We eventually moved from that home to Loveland, but that home stood the test of our early relationship and had stood the test of time. Any neighbors out that day I walked would have witnessed, not a 50-something, but a 20-something, mourning more of who I had been, who I had so wanted be, but was held up temporarily by life forces beyond my control.

I continued at a more brisk pace because I had guests at home. I walked past St. Cecilia, where our former pastor from St. Margaret of York, Fr. Jamie, presided. Also, my father in law, Mark Sr., worked at St. Cecilia’s a few days a week. St. Cecilia’s was built in 1908 in the Gothic style and was a tough booking for weddings, for which my niece will be married there in two years.

The entrance to the public library branch boasts of an arbor and impeccable landscaping, but stood in contrast to some libraries I had seen in other neighborhoods. Another example of the lack of parity, and what might appear to be a more friendly-looking safe space than others I had encountered.

The rest of my time trekking back along Madison Road was spent hopping back and forth across the Madison to shoot fun photos. Oakley has charming square near the Oakley Theatre, site of many great concerts and events, and then back towards my car.

Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors refers to Oakley as the “nerve center of Cincinnati’s contribution to the war production.” The area was purchased in 1846 and named Oakley supposedly because of the plethora of oak trees, though most residents at the time called this area “Shusterville” after one of its founders.

In 1907, long after the racing track closed, Oakley was known for the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company (most recently known as Milacron or once known as the Cincinnati Tap and Screw) on a 125-acre site called the Oakley Factory Colony.

Oakley has an active community council, hosting a Final Fridays through the summer. And Habits had finally undergone a renovation, from my days at Star Bank, when our boss “took us to lunch” there, meaning we still paid.

When we lived in Oakley, we always wanted to be somewhere else. Someone else. The curse of being young. We also lived in Cincinnati at a time when the riverfront was flourishing, as it is now. And our jobs took us to many far flung locations, including the west side. But always, at the end of night, we had each other.

I had never driven my son, Davis, past the home where his father lived. I’m certain he follows his mother’s blogs devoutly, so now he’ll know. But Oakley, always called Hyde Park near in real estate ads during my years, was our own incubator for a young relationship and lasting friendships.

I wasn’t crazy of the new paint color. If I drove Davis to that home now, surely the first thing he would notice is the paint combination, sporting University of Oregon colors where he now attends.

That home had been backdrop for the first of many origin stories. Twenty-five years later, I would stand in front of the home, envisioning Devin driving his black Nissan Maxima up the driveway, me, trailing behind in my Toyota Cellica, entering a life we couldn’t imagine.

What’s The Point – Gettin’ My 52 On in Pendleton

* This is the twenty-third in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. What will I learn? Where I will I go next?

In my reference book, A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, (1943), places now called Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton were once simply referred to as areas in the city.

Before spending much time in the city of Cincinnati proper, Pendleton to me had always been considered a part of Over-the-Rhine. If I was near the casino, long before the casino, I was either in downtown, as delineated along Central Parkway, or I was in Over-the-Rhine. Even as we considered move to Over-The-Rhine, it was my husband who once informed me that Pendleton was a neighborhood and the city actually did too.

FullSizeRender (1)The boundaries of Pendleton can be drawn by connecting three points. Central/Reading to Sycamore, Sycamore to Liberty and Liberty back to Central/Reading.

From my home on 14th on Race, I walked each north and south street of Pendleton, a few alleys in between, and walked back home in 45 minutes. Some of the speed factor may have come from the fact that I know the neighborhood well, but some of is attributed to the fact Pendleton is one of Cincinnati’ smallest neighborhood, yet still remains part of Over-the-Rhine Historic district.

FullSizeRender (2)Pendleton was named after George Pendleton, a U.S. Senator, who had a home located in Prospect Hill, now a part of Mt. Auburn, where he drafted the first Federal civil service law. His wife was the daughter of Francis Scott Key of the Star-Spangled Banner fame. However, his family’s first home was in the former rectory location at St. Paul Church, at the SE corner of E. 12th and Spring, a church built in 1850. The church has withstood fire and all the stained glass windows were made in Germany. Its worth a look inside. It should be noted the rectory was torn down brick by brick and reassembled at the rear. The church was eventually deconsecrated and purchased by the Verdin Bell Company. (More photos here)

FullSizeRender (15)The Verdin Bell Company is of course, now a cornerstone of the neighborhood, as is The Bell Event Centre. The furniture at Findlay Market was produced by Verdin Bell. And Mark and I are proud owners of a similar set that I secured via one of the owners, met years ago at Findlay Fundraiser when I asked, how do I get that set in purple? Today, I own that set in purple.

Along the 1100 block of Broadway is a stretch of buildings once used for training the troops for the Civil War. There was also a practice rifle range, many brawls and a few Confederate executions which took place nearby.

FullSizeRender (8)Pendleton is home to a thriving artist enclave, Pendleton Art Center and Annex, which hosts its monthly Final Fridays. Some of my favorite artists have spaces there. CityScapes Tiles, Susie Brand Jewelry and Donna Talerico, to name a few. New, small restaurants and bars have or are sprouting up in was what mostly abandoned buildings. Urbana Café, Boomtown Biscuit (not yet open), Lucius Q with Aaron Sharpe, Nation Burger Bar. And course, Nicola’s and my favorite Italian courtyard. A few others will come online, as well as the new pool associated with Ziegler Park, scheduled to open June 10th.

There are new infill developments and land is becoming more valuable. This neighborhood too will see its share of what everyone has an opinion about – gentrification.  If one is in downtown or OTR, it’s worth a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.

We’ve met long time Pendleton residents and also have met a number of residents who have moved into some lovingly restored homes, as well as few in the process of being restored. Over the Rhine Community Housing owns several properties here, under Cutter, Morgan and Carrie properties. Also, the Model Group, known for their development of affordable housing and retail solutions, has large presence here.

Woodward was one of the first public schools in the country. The school opened in 1826 and offered free education for poor children. The remains of Abigail Cutter and William Woodward, founders, are supposedly buried beneath the school grounds and Abigail’s ghost haunts the building.  In 1910, a third iteration of the building opened and was dedicated by William Howard Taft. The building once housed the School for Performing Arts and now is home to apartment dwellers.

The site is also has ties to the Underground Railroad. Levi Coffin was known as the President of the Underground Railroad, sheltering fugitive slaves each year on their way to Canada. He and his wife lived on this site from 1856 to 1863. This site was also the home to hospitals and principals long before it became a school and now apartments. The building was known for its swimming pools (two) and its Rookwood Pottery drinking fountains.

Across the street in OTR though directly impacting Pendleton, Ziegler Park was once a great community asset and then became a known for prevalence of drugs. And many summer days, I walked past the pool and there were zero, zero patrons there.

When the announcement came that the park and pool would be renovated, there was a lot of angst in the community. How would 3cdc be responsive to all the neighborhood needs? The swim pool membership has been structured like Cincinnati Recreation Center memberships. There is an effort to maintain Ziegler as low programming site, unlike Washington Park which is constantly programmed. The goal is also that it be family oriented and community oriented. In essence, a neighborhood pool. As a member in some community conversations, I look forward to hanging at a pool with my neighbors, listening to the kids squeal and of course, a few cannonballs off the diving board. And I cannot stress the importance of every child learning to swim. Read my previous post here.

I love Pendleton, but its neighborhood designation falls into the category of “why do we need to be duplicating neighborhood efforts, for a small number of blocks?” I attempted to track down the history of how, when or why it become a recognized city neighborhood. One email was acknowledged but not returned. Several requests were made to folks who lived in the area. Through the efforts of my friend, Jon, I was directed to Ohio’s Secretary of State website which lists a St. Paul Community Center, established in 1968, then renamed Pendleton Neighborhood Council in 1971. Throughout the course of time, the group allowed for the relapse and reinstatement of incorporation several times. There is speculation that the area wanted to break away from Over-the-Rhine in its previous rougher state. However, the OTR comprehensive plan, as well as the OTR Community Council still include the area as part of Over-the-Rhine.

Which leads me to ask, not just about Pendleton, but other smaller neighborhoods I have walked, to what end is the city duplicating efforts? There are developments in Loveland and Mason three times the size of Pendleton and Millvale. Are these neighborhoods better or less served in that state as separate? And I wonder if some of the segmentation of our city has led to less cooperation between neighborhoods and the city over the years?

One of my first “morning finds” after we moved, was my discovery of an alley that so closely resembled Europe that I went back to that alley time and again to just absorb in its charm. I look forward to many more morning finds to be discovered in this enclave, and hope to someday discover the real reason Pendleton decided to stand on its own.