Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Deutsche Evangelishe St Paulus Kirche - St. Paul's German Evangelical Church

Wahrheit, Tugend, Freiheit
Truth, Virtue, Freedom
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
These are the words inscribed on the church building at the corner of Race and 15th Streets in Over-the-Rhine. This building dates from 1850. Here is a brief history found on-line:
Now we must turn our attention back again to the North German Lutheran Church. Pastor Moelhnann, who had founded the congregation, and who had dedicated the church on Walnut Street early in 1840, died suddenly in May, 1840. Now came a sequence of successors of rather short duration. One of these was Heinrich Suhr, who was elected to the preacher's office in 1845 instead of his rival, Robert Clemen. This election led to another split, because the supporters of Clemen went their own way, and founded the German Evangelical St. Paul's congregation, the fifth German church in Cincinnati. However, on account of low salary, Mr. Clemen did not remain with the new congregation, and they also had a succession of short-duration preachers. After five years, during which the young congregation met in an old building on 2nd Street, they moved in 1851 into a new church on the corner of 15th and Race Streets in "Over-the-Rhine." Here they remained until the year 1948.
Finally, with the arrival of Gustav Eisenlohr (father of Hugo Eisenlohr who was later pastor of St. John's Church) in 1857, and Eduard Voss in 1879, lasting stability came to St. Paul's congregation. 
There was a drugstore built into the bottom right side of the church as a way to pay for the construction of the building. More about the store and the family that ran it for many year can be read in a previous blog post.
The rumor that the church never had a steeple is not true. As you can tell from the postcard above, the steeple did exist until 1890.
The Cincinnati Enquirer; Apr 12, 1890; pg. 8
By 1949, the congregation had merged with St. Peter's and became known as St. Peter and St. Paul United Church of Christ. They built a new building in Westwood and this one in Over-the-Rhine was sold to the Church of God of the Mountain Assembly, who retained ownership until 1974.
Centennial : St. Paul's Evangelical Protestant Church (congregational), Cincinnati, Ohio: February 6th to 11th, 1945. Cincinnati: s.n, 1945. Print.
After the sale in 1974, the church sat empty for many years and decay set in. The following pictures were taken by the Cincinnati Preservation Association (under their former name, the Miami Purchase Association), circa 1980's.

In 1999, efforts were made to fix the leaking roof and find another use for the building, but these plans never came to fruition. Further damage occurred to the steeple in 2008 from the hurricane force winds that affected much of our region. CityKin described much of the damage that occurred in Over-the-Rhine.
Source - CityKin
The steeple after the damaged part was removed. Photo by Digging Cincinnati History, December, 2011
Starting in 2010, 3CDC began stabilization work for the roof, which was collapsing. That work is now complete and the building waits for a new life. The following photos were taken by Photography for the People. Be sure you like them on Facebook to see more amazing pictures!

UPDATE - April 2, 2015
The building has indeed found new life as Taft's Ale House. A sneak preview can be seen on 5chw4r7z Blog.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Before Sam Caldwell & Co - 118 East 9th

A Facebook follower shared the following photo of 118 East 9th Street, in downtown Cincinnati:
Credit: A. Hartman
This small two story building is the only older building left on the north side of this block.

It is often recognized by the painting on the side of building. The Hamilton County Auditor dates it to 1875, so I went off digging to find out more about Sam Caldwell & Company plus any more history that I could find. I took a look at the ownership card on the Auditor's website:

Sam Caldwell took ownership of the building in 1945. As can be seen in the photo above, Sam was a painter and decorator. He is most known for painting the outfield signs at Crosley Field. This sign was actually painted by his employee, Charles Keiger, who attended the Cincinnati Art Academy. Sam Caldwell passed away in 1965 and the building was sold in 1970 to a relative of the present owner.

But let's dig a little further back...
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Prior to 1895, the address of this property was 18 West 9th Street. You see, Main Street used to be the dividing line through the city, but since 1895, Vine Street is used to determine the east and west sides. The large X over the building identifies it as a stable. Ah, so that is why the garage door is there today!

I started searching through the city directories and census records to find more information.
1870 US Census - Ancestry.com
H. R. Evers is listed in the 1870 directory as a coachman, living at 18 West 9th. He is also listed in the 1875 directory under the same occupation and address. In 1877, his wife Mary passed away and soon after, the Evers family moved away.

1880 US Census - Ancestry.com
In 1880, the city directory lists Morris Venia as a coachman at this address and the census lists him as a "hostler" - which is defined as one who takes care of horses and/or mules. The curious thing about the Venia family is that their name was spelled a variety of ways. When Morris passed away in 1898, his name was listed as Maurice Venie and when his wife Mary passed away in 1900, the surname was Vinet. This can be explained checking the census records, which lists Morris and Mary as unable to read or write.

After the deaths of Morris and Mary, the building was used as an office for veterinarian Louis P. Cook, who was also an inspector for the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry.

1910 US Census - Ancestry.com
 In 1905 and 1910, Nelson Tribue worked as a butler and lived here. By 1912, the building once again has a commercial use, the Prest-O-Lite Company. This company originally was founded in Indianapolis and created acetylene gas powered lights for automobiles before the invention of electric lights. As you can imagine, dealing with compressed gas in 1912 was a danergous business and in 1912, there was an explosion at 118 East 9th Street:
The Cincinnati Enquirer; May 9, 1912; p. 16
Click to read full article
Despite this catastrophe, Prest-O-Lite remained in business at the location until at least 1917, changing their business to include batteries for autos. However, in the directories, they were also listed as having welding supplies.
The Cincinnati Enquirer; Sep 9, 1917; pg. 21

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Going from horse stable to autos seems like a natural progression. After Prest-O-Lite came Foster's Garage in 1918 and Grosse Auto Repair in 1920.
The Cincinnati Enquirer; Apr 28, 1918; p. A14
The Cincinnati Enquirer; Dec 4, 1921; p. A12
By 1925, welding returned to 118 East 9th Street with Benz-Welsh Welding Company. Also listed in the directory was Fred Gage, storage batteries, and Vass Electric Company. Few changes occurred over the next 15 years, with 1940 bringing a live bait shop to the building in addition to welding and electric.

We have come full circle, with Sam Caldwell who purchased the building in 1945 for his painting business. Presently, it has been owned by the same family since 1970, however, I am unsure of its current use. But Sam Caldwell's paint sign remains on the front of the building.

Friday, April 5, 2013

OTR Ghost Sign Reveals Shadows of the Past

The inspiration for the post came from a picture of a "ghost" sign that was uncovered when renovations began at 1504 Race Street in Over-the-Rhine.
Source - Urban Expansion
I could make out just enough of this sign to start digging. I see the name "Burton" and "Furniture"...
1504 Race Street before the ghost sign unveiling.
Source - Urban Expansion
According to the Hamilton County Auditor's website, this building was constructed in 1895 but it appears by checking the Sanborn Insurance Maps that it existed by 1887. At that time, the address was 534 Race Street.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
It is interesting to me that the building is labeled as a tenement, since tenement buildings are usually three or more stories tall. The city directories helped me date the building to around 1875 when the address first shows up. At that time, H. Meyer, who was a merchant tailor, lived here and along with Henry Baer, who was working as a clerk.

1880 US Census - click to enlarge
Source - ancestry.com
From the above census record, you can see by 1880 the Gentert/Guentert family lived here. The father, Edward, from Baden (now a part of Germany), is listed as a notions & candy storekeeper, although in the same year, the city directory lists his occupation as a "cutter". His daughter, Josephine, is also working as a saleslady in a notions store and the city directory lists her job as a confectioner - a candy maker. The Gentert family has a total of eight persons, with six children between the ages of 3 and 18 years old.

Also living in the building was George Maurer, born in Ohio of parents of German descent,  and his wife, Catherine Barbara, born in Wurtemberg. George worked as a presser for a tailor, but they are not listed in the city directory for this address.

1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Well, no "Burton" in the 1880's, so I kept on digging...

Meyer Fred, driver, h. 534 Race

Parker John, janitor, h. 534 Race

Koll Emil, piano tuner, n.e.c. 4th and Elm, h. 534 Race nr 15th

Bolz Fred, piano tuner, h, 1504 Race
Cattau August, merchant tailor, 1504 Race
" Henry, tailor, h. 1504 Race

Cattau August mer tailor 1504 Race
—Henry tailor h 1504 Race
Smith Robt C (Ryan & S) 234 W 3d h 1504 Race

1900 US Census - click to enlarge
Source - ancestry.com
Starting around 1910, Carl Heger began selling sewing machines from this location but he did not live here until he shows up in the 1920 census. The living spaces continued to be rented to various families through the years.

Heger Carl sewing machines 1504 Race
Smith Robt C plumber 1504 Race

Adams Maria wid Robt h 1504 Race
Heger Carl sewing machines 1504 Race res Norwood
Smith Robt C plumber h 1504 Race

1920 US Census - click to enlarge
Source - ancestry.com
 Heger Carl sewing machines 1504 Race
" Chas, U S N h 1504 Race
Smith Robt C clk rm 303, 528 Walnut h 1504 Race

1504 Heger Carl sewing machine
1504 Smith Harriet

Cincinnati Enquirer; Dec 28, 1913;

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
1504 Richter Robt S plumbing supplies
1504 Volz Walter J plumber
1504 Metz Edward A

1504 Strohmaier Edward (Hertel & Strohmaier) 1500 Race h 1504 Race (Hertel & Strohmaier was a  restaurant)

Finally, in 1940, "Burton" finally reveals his identity: Oscar Burton is listed in the city directory as running a used furniture store at 1504 Race Street. Taking a look at the other "ghost sign" on the left side of the building, it appears he also did some moving and hauling for his clients.
Source - Urban Expansion
The third "ghost sign" in the middle reveals that 1504 Race Street had also once been a thrift shop, but I am unable to pin down the exact dates for it.

Meanwhile, this building is being rehabbed by Chris Reckman of Urban Expansion and by the looks of the pictures, it has been one heck of a job! (Thanks for the use of your photos, too.)

Thanks, Chris, for saving and renovating another treasure of Over-the-Rhine. I can't wait to see the finished product!