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.