In 1794 the Reverend James Kemper founded a farm on a hill outside of Cincinnati, calling it Walnut Farm. This farm was located in what would later become the neighborhood of Walnut Hills, and after which the neighborhood was named. In 1829 Lane Seminary was founded along what is now Gilbert Avenue, attracting new residents to the area, including the new seminary president Lyman Beecher. Beecher’s daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe would later write the seminal work Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Harriet Beecher Stowe house still sits along Gilbert Avenue and has been preserved as a museum.
The Walnut Hills area was annexed into Cincinnati in pieces between 1850 and 1873, becoming one of Cincinnati’s oldest hilltop neighborhoods. In the 1870s and 1880s, streetcars began to run up to the area and the population grew, along with commercial enterprises and manufacturing facilities. Walnut Hills in the early 20th century was booming, with a diverse job market, a variety of housing, and the busiest commercial center outside of downtown at Peebles Corner (named after the grocer Joseph Peebles).
While the streetcars no longer run, and the neighborhood landscape and demographic characteristics have changed since the 1940s and 50s, Walnut Hills endures as a strong and diverse community of residents and business owners. A relatively strong housing market and new residential and mixed-used development plans are creating a buzz, and the future of the neighborhood looks strong.