Friday, May 16, 2014

Seventh and Elm - 200 Years of History

This photograph inspired this post because it has such great detail from a moment in Cincinnati's past.
Elm Street, looking north from George, 1905 - Source
Here is the same view today.
2012 Google Streetview
I decided to focus on the tallest building in the 1905 photo, with the tower and the great detail. This stood at the northwest corner of Elm and Seventh Streets. However, it wasn't the first building to occupy this location.
Residence of Jacob Burnet - Source
The lot was first owned by Jacob Burnet (1770-1853), one of the leading members of early Cincinnati. He arrived here in 1796 and practiced law. He is known as "the father of the Ohio Constitution" and was an Ohio Supreme Court Justice and also served as a United States Senator. He died in this home in 1853 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Jun 14, 1885; pg. 12

In 1885, this home was demolished and in its place was built a circular building, called the Panorama on the 1887 Sanborn Map, which housed scenes from the Battle of Sedan, which occurred in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War.
1886 Illustrated business directory and picturesque Cincinnati - Source
Cincinnati Enquirer; Aug 30, 1885; pg. 8
Cincinnati Enquirer; Sep 10, 1885; pg. 4
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The Battle of Sedan closed on May 1, 1887 and it appears the building was soon demolished, since it was built was a temporary structure. In 1891, the lot was vacant, although a newspaper article mentioned a carousel being operated here.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
In 1890, the lot was purchased for the construction of the Odd Fellows Hall. Samuel Hanaford and Sons were selected as the architects after a design competition and construction was completed in 1894. It is the tall building in the 1905 photo above.
Cincinnati Enquirer; May 14, 1894; pg. 8
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The Odd Fellows Hall was purchased in 1941 by the Western and Southern Life Insurance Company and it was soon announced that the building would be demolished. The company believed the equipment of the building had become obsolete. 
Cincinnati Times-Star; Nov. 20, 1941; p. 24
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
In 1946, a parking garage was built which still stands today. This corner has gone from the home of a leading citizen to a place to park in approximately 200 years. Suburban life, rise of the automobile and the push toward modernizing were the reasons for demolition. The tide is beginning to turn in this city, back towards city living and an appreciation for the fine construction of Cincinnati's remaining old buildings.

2012 Google Streetview