Sites of Black History and Underrepresented Communities
The CPA Sites of Black History project increases awareness and the preservation of sites and structures that tell the story of the Black experience in Greater Cincinnati.
The historic preservation movement has made substantial progress in preserving and commemorating the places that reflect the history of white America. Less focus has been placed on the sites associated with the history of African American communities.
Only 2% of the 95,000 entries on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) focus on the experience of Black Americans. Cincinnati has a similar deficit. While there is increasing recognition of places such as Greystone Ballroom at Music Hall, the Manse Hotel in Walnut Hills and King Records studios in Evanston, these important sites are only a small part of a much, much larger untold history.
How to Get Involved
Want to help CPA Identify Black Historic Sites? Email CPA at email@example.com.
Examples of Significant Themes in Black History
Green Book Sites
The historical significance of Green Book sites is unparalleled and provides us with a meaningful glimpse of what autonomy meant to Black families during Jim Crow segregation. The Green Book was first published in 1936 by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green and ran until the mid 1960s.
In Cincinnati many of the Green Book sites were in Walnut Hills which had a vibrant black community. The Manse Hotel was established in 1937 and was the largest hotel that served primarily black guests. The hotel had major cultural significance for Cincinnati’s black community and hosted events including weddings and social and professional group meetings.
From anti-literacy laws to segregation the black community has faced many obstacles in their pursuit of education, yet they have persevered. While Cincinnati did not have the strict Jim Crow Laws that were seen throughout the South, through redlining and segregation blacks were not provided the same opportunities as their white counterparts. Starting in the 1850’s there were schools at all levels dedicated to teaching the black community in Cincinnati.
The Eckstein School was a school that was established specifically for black students due to a lack of a facility to serve them within Glendale. This former segregated school possesses significant historical information that can teach us a lot about how African American students received education during Jim Crow segregation.
For centuries, spirituality and faith have largely influenced multiple aspects of the African American and black culture in the US. Across cultures, religion and spirituality has been clearly identified as a protective or support factor in navigating a plethora of challenging life circumstances including death, trauma, violence, illness, or other hardships.
Although Evanston was not a majority African American community when St. Mark was constructed in 1916, over time, the neighborhood’s social, physical, and economic landscape transformed. By the mid-20th century, urban renewal practices in the city led Evanston and surrounding neighborhoods to become predominantly Black. In turn, St. Mark’s Black parish grew. As a result, St. Mark is now as much a cultural resource as it is religious.
Learn more about Black Sites in Greater Cincinnati:
CPA’s Black History Speaker Series
Preservation at Home: “Gina Ruffin Moore on Black History in Cincinnati” – Watch the recorded speaker series with Ms. Ruffin Moore in March 2021.
CPA Articles on Local Black History
Owl’s Nest Park Pavilion in Evanston – A park property and a community staple that has been located in a community of color. This site is important to the black experience as it is where the Marian Spencer and Johnnie May Berry integrated the pool 2 years before they began their efforts at Coney Islands Sunlight pool.
Dr. Lucy Orintha Oxley: Family Medicine Trailblazer – This incredibly resilient African American female doctor overcame unfathomable odds to become a medical practitioner in Cincinnati.