Glimpses of Jazz in Walnut Hills: Kemper Lane Hotel

The Kemper Lane Hotel, at the corner of McMillan, provided a somewhat fewer and less expensive accommodations compared to the Hotel Alms a few block east on McMillan, but still very nice and socially acceptable accommodations. It tried to compete with the Alms in the private party, restaurant and dance businesses as well. During the[…]

Washington Terrace

Model Home by Schmidlapp Jacob Schmidlapp talked some of his friends into joining him in financing a half-million-dollar joint stock company called the Cincinnati Model Homes Company. Like his earlier housing ventures, the company sought to provide decent affordable housing for low-wage workers. The largest projects built by Model Homes went on previously vacant land[…]

Donald Spencer, Douglass School teacher

Donald Spencer was born in Cincinnati in 1915. He went to public schools and graduated from Walnut Hills High School in 1932. At Walnut Hills, Donald worked to ensure that African-American students could attend the Junior-Senior Prom. He then went to the University of Cincinnati where he first graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1936,[…]

The Great Migration

In the nineteenth century, both before and after the Civil War, most African Americans lived in the rural South. Cincinnati had a relatively high African American population for a Northern city at about 5% in the early twentieth century, and the population grew by nearly a third in the first decade of that century to[…]

Frederick Douglass School Library 1911

Since the nineteenth century, the Cincinnati Public Library provided service in the district’s school buildings. Douglass was no different; it housed a small library for the use of its students. Through the end of the nineteenth century, most adult library services required a trip to the main library building downtown. Andrew Carnegie, the iron baron[…]

Lawrence C. Hawkins, Ph. D.

Lawrence Hawkins was born in South Carolina in 1919, the son of a sharecropper. His family moved to Cincinnati in 1926, and he enrolled in Frederick Douglass School, the African American school in Walnut Hills. One biographical sketch notes “It was there he received a strong foundation which carried him through Walnut Hills High School[…]

Joseph B. Foraker, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights

Joseph B. Foraker lived on Cross Lane in Walnut Hills, in the block between Frederick Alms and Henry Pogue, across the street from the lot that would later be the Verona apartments. Like Frederick Alms he served in the Civil War, enlisting in 1862 – on his sixteenth birthday. He showed great leadership abilities, rising[…]

Low Cost Housing History – Washington Terrace Community

The Washington Terrace Apartment Complex built by Jacob Schmidlapp’s Model Homes Company west of Gilbert and south of Blair was built on vacant land that was until that time a usually dry creek, without much in the way of city services. Model Homes sought to provide the community with park and playground space in the[…]

Frederick Douglass School Building 1911

The Elm Street School for Colored Children had been built in 1872, when Cincinnati annexed Walnut Hills north of McMillan Street. The Arnett law of the late 1880’s had allowed African American children to attend the previously white-only public schools. The Black faculty and relatively affluent Black parents in Walnut Hills argued that their students[…]

Low Cost Housing: Gordon Hotel

Jacob Schmidlapp (see a recent low-cost housing post post) continued his mission to produce affordable, decent housing in Walnut Hills from 1911 until his death in 1919. Another project called the Gordon Hotel, provided an alternative to the rooming houses in the neighborhood. Schmidlapp himself provided an excellent summary of the building in his short[…]