Monday, December 26, 2011

Police Station to Bath House to Kolping House

While taking the Spirit of Christmas Tour with American Legacy Tours, our guides mentioned there had been a police station and bath house on Republic Street. I just had to know more...

Republic Street had been originally called Bremen Street. It was changed as a result of the anti-German hysteria that spread throughout the country following United States declaration of war in Germany in 1917. The Cincinnati City Council changed many street names on April 9, 1918. (1)

At 1523 Republic stands this building:
Before the street renaming and renumbering, the address was 141 Bremen. I found the first mention of a police station in 1861 in the Annual Reports of the City Departments:

One lot, being 30 feet front on the west side of Bremen street, about 230 ft. 8 inches north of Fifteenth street, extending back at right angles to an alley, about. 70 feet, conveyed by N. Longworth and wife, used for Bremen street Station House. Value per front foot, $100 3,000 00 Improvements 5,000 00 (2)

The building was constructed in 1870 and can be seen on these maps:
1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map - Source

1891 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map - Source
 By 1902, the city had decided to close the Bremen Street Station and looked to find a way to sell it. (3) But in 1903, a bond issue was passed to convert the station into a public bath house:

Bremen-street Public Bath-house Bond, issued under Ordinance of the Council of the City of Cincinnati passed June 1, 1903. Dated July 1, 1903; payable July 1, 1928; bearing 3.5 per cent per annum interest, payable semi-annually, January 1st and July 1st each year. Principal and interest payable at the office of the Treasurer of the city of Cincinnati. Signed by Julius Fleischmann, Mayor; attested by W.T. Perkins, City Auditor. One manuscript bond - $22,000.00 (4)

 The old Bremen-street station house was by resolution of the Board transferred to the Board of Public Service, for the purpose of converting it into a public bath-house. This action was taken upon the request of many citizens residing in that portion of the city, and the Board of Public Service, heartily in sympathy with the movement inaugurated by this Board, cheerfully took up the work, and the necessary legislation was passed in order to carry out the project. When completed it will greatly benefit the residents of that portion of the city. (5)

Hannaford & Sons have submitted plans for a public bath house to be operated by the city on the site of the old Bremen street police station. The estimated cost of the improvements amount to about $21,000. (6)
The bath house was an immediate success, with 12,000 baths taken in the first three months. (7) A little over one thousand of these baths were women and about one thousand were boys. It cost 5 cents for a bath. By 1911, more bath houses were opened and there were less people using the Bremen Street location.

Cincinnati Municipal Bath Houses
Cincinnati, O.—The new Freeman avenue municipal bath house, which is intended for the exclusive use of men, is now in service. The building, which has been erected and equipped at a cost of $25,627, is handsomely equipped with the most modern and sanitary plumbing. Cornelius Weis has been appointed manager by Director Sundmaker at a salary of $90 a month, and a janitor at $60. The new Cutter street bath house for women is slowly-gaining in patronage. Superintendent Hauser's report for one week shows there were 330 tub and two shower baths and twenty-three washtub tickets sold. The week's receipts amounted to $17.75. The Bremen street bath house furnished 1821 showers and 316 tub baths to men. The receipts were $130.65. (8)

1904-1930 Map - Source
The bath house remained open until 1926. There is no listing for 1523 Republic Street in the City Directories from 1926 until 1930. The Kolping Society purchased the building in 1930 to become a Kolping House, a place where members of the society could provide educational and recreational programs and also offer a place for members who were unmarried or traveling could stay. While owned by the Kolping Society, the following inscription was added over the door (9):

Gott Segne das Ehrbare Handwerk
 which translates to:
God Blesses Respectable Handwork
The Kolping Society sold the building in 1958 and it has been an apartment building since then. It is currently owned by OTR Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of 3CDC. I wonder what their plans are for this building with a interesting history!

(2) Source 
(3) Source
(4) Source
(5) Source
(6) Source
(7) Source
(8) Source
(9) Source