Still Educating Myself – Gettin’ My 52 On in College Hill

This is my forty-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.

The day dawned with a crispness in the air and I was free. My number of walks remaining had dwindled to four. I had plans to walk three other communities, to occur with the right amount of time, coupled with the right temperature. College Hill was the lone standout on my list.

From Northside, I followed Hamilton Avenue until the street intersected with Belmont. I parked my car at Belmont and Hamilton Ave. After walking Northside, Hamilton now stood out as a main thoroughfare, one I had never considered before.

As I started my stroll, I crossed the College Hill Presbyterian Church, which has a colorful history, once built with bricks from the kiln of Pleasant Hill (the former name of College Hill) and then demolished by a storm, only to rise again. I continued along Belmont and came across Aiken High School, home to CPS’s New Tech program, where I once subbed as a writing program instructor.

In the middle of Llanfair, the former town hall now anchored a park.

The homes along this stretch varied in their architecture. I finally opened my eyes a little more at the sight of Laurel Court, home of Peter Thompson, founder of The Champion Coated Paper Company.

Later I would circle about its backside and around its stunning European gardens. Each mansion seemed to surpass the one before it.

I turned down Glenview hoping to make it to the bottom of the hill and Fox Preserve, home to a two-mile loop through a forested area. But alas, I ran out of sidewalks, decided the curves were too treacherous to continue, and realized the entrance on Kirby would not take me where I needed to go.

I marched back up Glenview to Belmont and reconnected with North Bend Road, finding stretches of homes along Collegevu Street.

I wandered for a long time in and out of Savannah to Harbeson to Hamilton.

Having overshot my next destination, I backtracked along North Bend Road, crossed onto Cary, and stumbled across McAuley High School, where a writer friend of mine taught.

Then, I caught sight of the backside of Laurel Court. Thankfully, the rear gate had been left open and I could stroll (trespass?) through the green rounds and lush gardens that made me ache for Italy.

I circled around Cedar to find College Hill Fundamental Academy of our CPS system. CHFA was designated an EL school, as if one might instantly know what that means.

EL – experiential learning, a magnet school that combines academics with project-based and service learning. I’m still searching for the flow chart to keep those designations straight, and to better understand the decision criteria in establishing each so different from the rest.

The history of Dow’s Corner was related to Cora Dow, who, yes, as a woman, owned a chain of drugstores and also developed a penchant for good ice cream. Her father had handed her the business when he died of TB. She eventually pursued her pharmacy degree and grew the chain.

Along here, I discovered the business district, more importantly the beer district. Brink Brewery, Marty’s Hops and Vines, Bacall’s, operating since 1982. Fern and the College Hill Coffee Co. also held promise for a less sultry day.

Episcopal Retirement Homes and Model Housing were developing a senior housing complex nearby. And an Artworks mural, depicts “A Perfect Day in College Hill.”

I was enticed by the prospect of stopping for coffee, lolling about in the early fall warmth, but the better part of me knew I wanted to finish.

Instead, I continued snapping photos, drawn to the many “blurple’ – blue and purple – homes I had witnessed on these walks.  I completed a stroll through Hollywood Estates, walked down Daly, and traversed North Bend once more all the way to Tahiti.

Back on the main road, I turned down Argus Drive, aware of which direction I needed to turn, but not the streets. I left it up to my intuition, found Grosbeck, and eventually Hamilton.

However, I was still in search of the colleges for which College Hill had been named. I headed south on Hamilton and came across the Children’s Hospital expansion, which was located in the former Ohio Female College, also known as the Cincinnati Sanitarium and the Emerson.

Directly across the street sat the former Pleasant Hill Academy, also formerly known as the Ohio Military Institute, which was now for sale. I checked the Zillow listing and found the interior to be completely lacking in any original decor. Also, along Pasadena, the former post office had been converted to a home.

I popped down Hilcrest to get a look at the entrance to LaBoiteaux Woods. My final two destinations were Twin Towers Senior Living Community (Do you ever hear their commercials on WVXU? Now you know what it looks like). The Twin Towers community offered an active lifestyle and a continuum of care.

Another condo tower, Hammond North, located just south of the twin towers, boasted of 29 acres of park and was the home of a long-time writing mother of mine.

College Hill had an active development corporation and community council. Controversy didn’t seem to travel too far in this community, other than it had to often distinguish itself between North College Hill (not in the city limits) and College Hill.

The walk had stretched my imagination. I would walk College Hill’s next-door neighbor and find that what College Hill could boast of, that neighboring community could not. The size of a community matters, even when it shouldn’t. So too, for the mix of housing. The attraction of wealth to wealth.

The longer I thought about College Hill, the number of my writing connection increased, perhaps tied to College Hill’s roots in education. A vibrant and progressive history defined, bolstered and propelled a neighborhood as much as anything else. Perhaps we had too many neighborhoods that had been created just for the sake of boundaries.





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