Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mount Adams' Reformation

As a continuation of the recent trek through Mt. Adams (reporting on the Incline), I drove by this retaining wall at the northern end of Kilgour Street - one which I've seen a thousand times but failed to research, until now...

Retaining wall, Kilgour Street [3/3/8].
Facing the intersection of Kilgour and Monastery.

I find the wall alone interesting enough (as with any of the historical foundations in the city) because of the building materials, craftmanship, and age - the handmade nature of these remnants really gives a tactile reference to the past. I would associate them with old paintings, where you can see the unique brushstrokes of the artist - the form, motion, and intent; the complete process is apparent in any handbuilding construction.

Anyway, the notable characteristic of the wall lies directly in the center - an old entrance to the long-since demolished Convent of the Good Shepherd.

Retaining wall, Kilgour Street [3/3/8].
Click on the picture for a larger view of the old entrance.

With limited research (via the internet - due to the snowstorm today), I found that this Convent was actually located on Baum Street, with the Kilgour entrance just being an additional stairway leading up to it [map here].

Convent of the Good Shepherd, Baum Street [1896].
These buildings are no longer standing.
Source: Cincinnati Memory.

Further research indicates that this Catholic holding was legally named "School of Reform of the Good Shepherd," and housed women and children faced with unfortunate circumstances. Quoted from GCMP:

"Organized March 31, 1873. This institution is purely charitable as to charges and non-sectarian as to reception of inmates. There are 100 preservation and 50 reformatory children at present in the institution. Mother M. Gertrude is the Superioress."

Also, an article from the New York Times [archives 1851-1980] hints at its past notoriety:

 © The New York Times (Published: July 27,1874)

It's not unusual to find historical markers of a religious nature in the city, but especially in Mount Adams - its history is ripe with these foundations. Referencing Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors (1943) by Federal Writer's Project, "it is believed that the first road to Mount Adams was built by the Reverend James Kemper, pioneer Presbyterian preacher, in 1793." In addition [from pages 254 & 253]:

 How times change.


Kevin LeMaster said...

Interesting stuff.

Now the nabe's full of housing it costs a fortune to own and YPs getting loaded. This, of course, after the "evil" gentrification.

Man, there's enough material about Mount Adams that you could post daily about it for the rest of your life and never cover it all.

Matt said...

I hear that. Not sure I wanted to go that route, but I'm just trying to tie together all the extraneous photos I took when doing the leg work for the initial Incline posting...

djc said...

My grandmother and her sister were sent there at ages 9 and 11 by their mother and step father back in 1900. As art of a genealogical project, I found them in the census report listing them as "inmates" along with about 50 or more girls of the same age. I also have a letter one of them wrote from there on October 1 to their mother outlining their daily activities. While I was growing up, my grandmother told me stories about their time in that place that weren't flattering to the institution.

djc said...

I had heard from my grandmother that this building burned down but I can't confirm that. Does anyone know?

sarahswan24 said...

I found out through the 1930 census that two of my aunts were there as "inmates" at ages 16 and 15. There were five siblings in my mom's family. My grandmother was not in good health, she died of TB at age 40.I don't think my grandfather was around much. My mom and another aunt were sent to live with other relatives when my other two aunts were at the convent.

Matt said...

djc and/or sarahswan24:

Very interesting! I'd like to hear more about the personal stories relating to these old structures. If you have corresponding letters, photos, etc. scanned, please send them to me with your story and I'll do a post about it.

You can reach me at:


Unknown said...

I lived in the big monstrous brick building in the background. It had about 50 apts. The kids in the hood played a lot on the incline remains on the hill above there.

Robert Simmons said...

to Unknown, I also lived in that ugly building in the background.we lived there in the mid 60's. it was rat infested. I have a lot of good memories tho.