Monday, October 21, 2013

Gobrecht Building, 12th and Walnut, Over-the-Rhine

On a recent trip to Over-the-Rhine, a friend took me to the corner of 12th and Walnut Streets to check out this building. He had heard stories of the building and wanted to see if these were true. So of course, I just had to know more...
1126 Walnut Street by Digging Cincinnati History
The building was constructed in 1884 and designed by Emil G. Rueckert to be used as a store with apartments above. The cost of construction was $18,000. The store was operated by C.A. Gobrecht.

Christian August Gobrecht was born in 1832 in Germany and arrived in the United States in 1857. Shortly after coming to Cincinnati, he married Johanna Schmack and in the 1860 Census, he is listed as a musician. In April, 1861, he enlisted in the 6th Regular Ohio Foot Volunteers, Company E as a musician and mustered out in August of the same year. Again in September, 1862 he enlisted in the military, this time with the Regular Ohio Reserve Military Infantry but mustered out just one month later. In July, 1863 he registered for the Civil War draft but there is no record that he served.

August and Johanna with daughters Minnie and Ida, circa 1862
Source - user ewlevin
In the 1870 Census, August was listed as a musician and he lived with his wife and children, Wihelmine, Ida and Emil. Their fourth child, Alma, was born in 1871 and all of them lived until adulthood. In 1874, August began a store along with his brother George on Court Street selling liquor while remaining a musician as well. By 1880, August continued the store, which had moved to Walnut Street, north of Fourteenth Street. In the same year, he was listed as a musician in the May Festival Orchestra.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Note the Gobrecht Building in the top left.
In 1885, the new building at the corner of Twelfth and Walnut Streets was completed and the business enjoyed success here as a liquor and grocery store. Tragedy almost struck on July 4, 1887, when the malt house of the George Weber Brewing Company to the east caught fire when a "sky-rocket" from the Independence Day celebration entered a ventilator. The fire destroyed the malt house. The ventilator stacks fell upon the stable next to Gobrecht's building, which August was using for a warehouse. The fire licked at the window frames and one man who was on the roof, scared for his life, jumped to the street below and later died at the City Hospital. The Gobrecht Building survived the fire with a bit of scorching and some damage done to the personal items of the tenants.
Above the windows, the detail looks like piano keys. Perhaps C.A. Gobrecht added these because of his love of music.
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
As Emil grew up in the business, he took over after August's death in 1889 at the age of 57. The following is the listing from the city directory in 1895:
GOBBECHT A CO.. Wholesalers and Jobbers of Luncheon Delicacies, Table Luxuries, Cheese, Fish, Wines and Liquors, 404, 406 and 408 Walnut, s.e.c. 12th; Telephone 810
Note the "G" above the door for Gobrecht
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
In  1896, Gobrecht & Co. consolidated with the Highland Candy Company and became known as Gobrecht, McDonald & Co. However by 1900, the business was bought out by the Joseph R. Peebles' Son Company and Emil worked as a manager in the delicatessen department. In 1901, The Solar Art and Decorating Company occupied the retail space for a short time and by 1905, it was the Boltz and Berberich, an importer and jobber of woolens and tailor trimming. This business remained until the mid-1920's.

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
In 1925 the store space is listed as vacant but in 1927, the Model Lunch began it's operations here. The name most likely comes from the close proximity to the Model Laundry Company, which had a location on Jackson Street near Twelfth, just one block away. The lunch room was run by Charles Zitzas and Tom Zaferes until the late 1930's, when Tom ran the business with his family. After his death in 1958, his children continued operate the Model Lunch.
This is engraved in the sidewalk just in front of the door.
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
Source - user ewlevin
Most recently, Lucy Blue Pizza Window was here from 2001 until the spring of 2013, when they moved to their present Main Street location. The upper floors of the building were converted into condominiums in 2008. Now the first floor will become the home of HalfCut, specializing in local and rare craft beers.

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