Saturday, December 14th is Mount Adams’ Reindog Parade. This 24th annual event is sure to attract numbers of happy canines decked out for the holidays. As a prelude, my intrepid canine companion Kipling and I took an afternoon stroll through this beautiful neighborhood, following the walking tour outlined in John Clubbe’s Cincinnati Observed: Architecture and History (1992, Ohio State University Press). There is a lot to see in Mount Adams, so here are highlights from our outing:
Mount Adams is absolutely one of Cincinnati’s neighborhood gems. Clubbe states that the whole of Mount Adams is greater than the parts—interesting as the parts may be. And it is so true. This eclectic urban village, with its mix of old and new, and restaurants, bars, and cultural attractions, maintains a cohesiveness held in place by its geographic uniqueness. Mount Adams was originally known as Mount Ida after Ida Martin, a washerwoman who lived in the hollow of an old sycamore tree located on a steep hill. In 1831, Nicholas Longworth, a wealthy attorney of no small historical fame, purchased the mansion that is now the Taft Museum of Art as well as a large area of land behind it including Mount Adams. He transformed the hill into a vineyard and became the first commercially successful winemaker in the United States. Longworth eventually donated a portion of the hilltop to the Cincinnati Astronomical Society for an observatory.When the Cincinnati Observatory opened in 1843, the hill was renamed Mount Adams in honor of President John Quincy Adams, who delivered the observatory’s dedication address. Later, in 1871, the observatory was moved to its current location in Mount Lookout due to excessive smoke from downtown Cincinnati. The old observatory later became the Holy Cross Monastery and Chapel and is now used for commercial office space.
Clubbe’s walking tour starts us on Ida Street, showcasing renovated townhouses and rowhouses and a mixture of architectural styles (Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Queen Anne, and Italianate among others). Of note along Ida Street is the Pilgrim Chapel, once Mount Adams’ only Protestant Church, and the Ida Street Bridge (1931), one of Cincinnati’s first Art Deco bridges.
At the south end of Ida, along Celestial Street, is the Rookwood Pottery complex. Maria Longworth Nicholas Storer founded the infamous Rookwood Pottery in 1880–today’s pottery is located in historic Over-The-Rhine while the buildings in Mount Adams are now the home of The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant. Nonetheless, still a treat (no pun intended).
A hidden surprise as one continues along Celestial Street is Filson Place, named after Cincinnati’s original surveyor, John Filson.
This short side street features four interconnected Second Empire rowhouses (1885) originally occupied by Rookwood artists.
Clubbe’s tour turns left onto Hill Street, with wonderful views of downtown and the Ohio River, and then another quick left on to St. Gregory.
The tour then turns east on Pavillion, north on Carney, left on Hatch, and right onto Louden, eventually passing by Playhouse in the Park on its way to Eden Park. Dominating the crest of Mount Adams along the way is the Church of the Immaculate Conception (1859), or as it is more typcially referred to “Immaculata”.
This Gothic building is visible from up and down the river and is most striking for its simplicity of line. If you do not make it to Mount Adams for the Reindog Parade this year, the Immaculata is the focus for other, uniquely-Cincinnati events.
In particular, since 1860, there is a pilgrimage on Good Friday, when the faithful ascend the 85 steps to the church’s front door. And each year, in February, members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians “steal”the statue of St. Patrick from the church, to be used in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade–a tradition reflecting the historical rivalry between Mount Adams’ original Irish and German residents…
Happy Holidays and don’t forget to deck your dog out with antlers, bells, or a Santa cap tomorrow!