Throwback Thursday: Frederick Douglass School

When Walnut Hills was annexed to the City in 1870, a private school for Black students was brought into the segregated Cincinnati Public School system. A new building was constructed and the school was soon named the Frederick Douglass School after the well-known ex-slave abolitionist spokesman. Starting in 1887, segregated schools in the Cincinnati Public School system began to be phased out in favor of an integrated school system. The last of these schools was Douglass, at the corner of Chapel and Alms, but it did not close. The school district faced pressure from the Cincinnati African American community concerned with high dropout rates in integrated schools and the rapid loss of teaching positions for African-American educators at all of the closing schools. So instead of shutting down, Douglass was rebuilt.

The second Douglass School, built in 1911, a beautiful building with Rookwood decoration (source: Cincinnati Historical Society)

While the new Douglass was open to all students throughout the city, it remained almost completely African American, and provided a prejudice-free learning environment.  The school became nationally renowned, and a center for Walnut Hills community activities. Because it remained a largely segregated school, Douglass certainly had its critics in the first half of the twentieth century. Yet it existed in a time when integrated schools were not providing truly equal opportunities for Black students to learn, or for Black educators to teach. It stands as an important piece of African American history in Walnut Hills. Not only that, Frederick Douglass School (rebuilt in 2007 at 2627 Park Ave.) is still a vital neighborhood school and community gathering place.

Douglass School faculty in 1914. Principal Francis M. Russell in center of front row. (source: Cincinnati Historical Society).

Data Sources: Douglass School was prominent in history of segregated Cincinnati schools, Cincinnati Herald, February 2010, (; Walnut Hills City Neighborhood, Cincinnati Historical Society.

Throwback Thursday: Fire Company 16

Fire Co. 16 today

For today’s Throwback Thursday, we’re taking a closer look at the historic Fire Company 16, located at 773 E. McMillan St. The building was stabilized in 2012 by Max Construction Group using City of Cincinnati TIF (Tax Increment Financing) dollars, ensuring that it will remain standing in good repair for decades to come. The next step is to move forward with a full renovation and reuse! 

The dapper firefighters of yore
Fire Co. 16 in the 1930s

Designed by famed architect Samuel Hannaford, Fire Company 16 was built during a time of City expansion. Cincinnati in the 1850s and 1860s was booming. Transportation improvements allowed people to move further out from the Downtown area, and a vibrant suburb named Walnut Hills was annexed. Part of the annexation deal included City fire protection, and so Fire Co. 16 was founded. The firehouse was built in 1870 and put into operation on July 1 of that year. In 1871 it became a steam engine company, as Cincinnati was at the forefront of the steam-powered fire engine improvements happening across the country. Motorized engines were introduced in 1918, and Fire Co. 16 remained in operation for more than a century. In 1977 a fire damaged the firehouse, and on July 8, 1978 the station was disbanded. Fire Co. 16 still stands as Cincinnati’s oldest remaining firehouse.

Fire Co. 16 in the 1970s

Fire Company 16 is among the finest examples in Cincinnati of the Italianate architectural style, built with red brick and carved-stone window lintels. The first floor has a cavernous 15 ft. floor-to-ceiling height, and a the second floor has a 10 ft. height. Adjacent to the firehouse is another historic structure, the Hamilton House (currently undergoing stabilization), as well as assembled vacant parcels on both sides of McMillan ready for development.









Sources: ‘Cincinnati Fire History’, by Christine Mersch and Lisa Mueller (2009); ‘A Guide to Cincinnati’s Historic Firehouses’, by The Cincinnati Fire Museum and Charles E. Brooks (2003); (2013)

Throwback Thursday: Trevarren Flats

For today’s “Throwback Thursday”, we are highlighting the Trevarren Flats building (961 E. McMillan St.). This building is part of our successful historic tax credit application, and structural stabilization work on this structure will be completed in the Spring in anticipation of full renovation and reuse afterwards.

The seven-story tall Trevarren Flats was built in 1895, in the Victorian Eclectic style. It has a beautifully detailed front entry and semi-circular front window lintels. The interior has sustained a lot of wear and tear and some water damage over the years, but much of the beautiful historic woodworking  and finishing remain intact. We’ll keep you updated on stabilization as it progresses. For now, scroll through the pictures below and envision this building fully restored and filled with residents! We certainly are.


Photos by Andrew Stahlke (

Firehouse Stabilization Complete

The structural stabilization of the historic Fire Company 16 building at 773 E. McMillan Street (map) is complete! Matt Max of Max Construction Group turned the building back over to the City of Cincinnati on Friday, Nov. 16th, and it now sits as a structurally sound blank canvas, waiting for further development. Built in 1870, this firehouse is the oldest still standing in Cincinnati, and stabilization was funded through a City TIF allocation. Stabilization work included a new roof, new flooring and floor joists on the south side of the 2nd floor, interior and exterior masonry repairs, clean-out and gutting of the first floor space, removal of debris from the basement, and clearing of brush and trash from the adjacent vacant lot. The floor-to-ceiling height of the 1st floor is 15′, and the second floor is 10′. Total usable square footage is roughly 3,100 sf.

The building next to the Firehouse, a historic brownstone, is also slated for structural stabilization, with work expected to begin in early 2013. We are now in the process of soliciting qualified developers with creative ideas for the reuse and redevelopment of the Firehouse, Brownstone, and adjacent vacant parcels on both the north and south sides of E. McMillan St. If you are a developer and would like more information about the assembled site, please email us at