Civilian Conservation Corps: Mt. Airy Forest

Route 32 Relocation Threatens Mariemont, Native Sites 

A highway plan that would cut through Mariemont’s National Historic Landmark District (NHL) and important archaeological sites is now on hold.

The proposed relocation of State Route 32 is one component of the multimodal Eastern Corridor project, which aims to improve connectivity and reduce traffic between western ClermontCounty and downtown Cincinnati. Opposition to the project from Mariemont residents, officials and preservationists grew louder last year after the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) revealed a new route crossing the Little Miami River and the historic village. The alignment would cut through woods, farmland, trails and community gardens in the village’s south 80 acres. The open land includes Native American village sites of the ? cultures.

Early studies did not reflect Mariemont’s status as an NHL or the archaeological sites. Last year ODOT officials amended a feasibility study to include this information. This new study added a southern option that would cross the Little Miami River farther south and bypass Mariemont. Because the road would receive federal funding, review of the project under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is required. CPA has applied to join the process as a Consulting Party and will be working with Mariemont and preservation advocates to advocate for rerouting the highway away from the village and archaeological sites.

In late February, CPA learned that the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered planning stopped on the project. As of this writing, no funding has been sought or allocated, and no preferred plan has been identified. Look for updates on CPA’s Facebook page.

Shaker Buildings Need New Use, Better Future

When Hamilton County Park District created Miami Whitewater Forest in 1991, they inherited a bonus: over twenty buildings once part of the White Water Shaker settlement. While a historical treasure, the meeting house, dwellings and outbuildings posed a dilemma for the District, because historic preservation is not considered to be part of their mission.

The Friends of Whitewater Shaker Village then worked with the District to save the structures. Buildings in the North Family section were stabilized by the District and leased to the group. The Friends, in turn, raise funds to complete the restoration so the ten buildings can be opened to the public. The South Family dwelling was leased to the University of Cincinnati for a biological station.

The Center Family buildings, on the other hand, remain vacant and need attention. These include the Trustee’s Office, a brethren’s shop, a broom shop and several barns. An imposing three-story frame building with later brick porch, the brethren’s shop has a newer roof but is in need of total rehabilitation. The broom shop, a two-story vernacular structure, is leaning and may need major repairs. The Trustees’ Office may be able to be repurposed as a dormitory for the field school.

CPA is working with the Friends and the District on preservation options for the Center Family buildings. This continues our long involvement with the White Water Shaker site, including nominating the buildings to the National Register in 1974 and advocating for their preservation. Contact CPA for more information or to get involved.

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 Nine Union Terminals Need to be Moved—Again

Union Terminal’s famous Cincinnati industry murals, built for the concourse at the rear of the station, depict the people who built Cincinnati. The massive, 20 x 20’, eight-ton mosaics were created by Art Deco artist Winold Reiss from photos of actual people at work. They honor the workers who made Ivory Soap, slaughtered hogs, poured printing ink into barrels.

When the concourse was torn down in 1972 to make way for double-stack trains, CPA helped relocate the artworks to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Now nine of the iconic murals are endangered again because the terminals in which they are located are being demolished. And CPA is helping to save them.

The airport owns the murals but the City has right of first refusal when they become available. To make this happen, the City needs money, support, and the right indoor site, where they can be displayed as an ensemble and will be highly visible. Mayor Mark Mallory has already assembled a team of architects, engineers, historians and community leaders, including CPA, to raise money and make this happen. Look for updates on this site and CPA’s Facebook page.

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