Victorian Building Facade Uncovered in OH


During a renovation project on the 600 block of Race in the Central Business District, in Cincinnati, crews from non-profit real estate development company 3CDC discovered a second building while removing a structure’s brick exterior.

Likely constructed in the 1950s, the 70-year-old original facade reveals a much older, 19th-century masterpiece.

On the building’s history, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at 3CDC, Joe Rudemiller said, “One of the buildings was actually designed by the renowned architect Samuel Hannaford. And over the years it was a series of department stores, it was a Kroger in the '60s.”

The company went as far as to provide a rough timeline of the structure’s history to Cincinnati WLWT News 5 and Weather. The history is as follows:

  • 1887-91: The six-story, brick building was constructed during this time;
  • 1900: Mitchell Furniture Store;
  • 1936-49: Newberry Co.;
  • 1951: Building was renovated for Butler Brothers Department Store;
  • 1955: Shott’s Department Store;
  • 1957: Friedman Furniture;
  • 1960: Kroger store opens; and
  • 1969: Kroger store closes.

However, in a deeper dive by The Enquirer, the publication notes that A.E. Burkhardt & Co. was occupying the storefront starting in 1895.

In 1951, the Butler Brothers issued a major remodel on the structure which involved removing the top two floors and constructing a mid-century modern red-brick front, similar to what had been ushered in with the acclaimed Terrace Plaza Hotel on the next block in 1948.

At the time, the renovated building was quoted to be “a streamlined edition of its former self,” that now boasted escalators and air conditioning.

After Kroger closed, reports noted that the building hosted Singer sewing machines and Wurlitzer organs. Most recently, the building was reportedly utilized by The Chong Inc. The store closed last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cincinnati Center City Development Corp.’s OTR Holdings Inc. purchased the building last year as part of redevelopment efforts.

“The proprietor decided in early 2020 that he wanted to retire and reached out to us. So we agreed to buy the building from him last June,” Rudemiller said.

While plans are unknown at this time as to what the building will be used for, renovation efforts to remove the exterior brickwork is expected to take four to six weeks.

“For now, we are just focused on removing the brick facade that is covering the original,” Rudemiller told reporters. “It’s worth noting that we aren’t sure what we will find, or what condition it will be in, but we are really excited about the prospect of restoring the building back to some of its original detail, and we hope this will help attract an exciting tenant or end-user.”

Rudemiller continued, “We actually don't have any firm plans for the building. It could be... likely to be some street-level retail space. It could be residential or an office space above.

“This area of town we feel like has been a little sleepy, but is really prime to come back and have a lot of vibrancy and so we're really excited to see where this building fits into all of that and we think that it's going to add some positive energy to that area.”

At this point in the renovation process, the original facade appears to be in good shape.


Tagged categories: Building facades; Building operations; Design - Commercial; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Project Management; Renovation

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