CPA Statement on the Demolition of the Mount Auburn Cable Railway’s Powerhouse and Carbarn

For Immediate Release – February 27, 2021

We are sad to note that an important piece of Cincinnati history is being lost today. The historic Mt. Auburn Cable Car Building at the corner of Dorchester St. and Highland Ave. will be demolished over the weekend. This emergency demolition is a result of a partial and severe collapse of the structure after heavy snow and ice.

Cincinnati Preservation Association had hoped that the vacant Cable Car Building could find a new use, but we recognize that the Hamilton County Landbank had to make a tough decision to protect surrounding buildings.  The Landbank acquired the building last summer and had recently begun stabilization work.

While an effort to stabilize the building was not in time, Cincinnati Preservation Association appreciates the work the Landbank does to retain historic structures. Their Historic Building Stabilization program is unique in the nation and has helped save many at-risk historic buildings. The Regal Theater, townhouses in the West End, and the Flat Iron Building on Mt. Auburn Avenue are just a few of buildings that would have been lost without the Landbank’s intervention.   

“It is especially painful when a building of such historic significance is lost. The buildings and systems connected to transportation tell us a great deal about how people lived and about how our communities developed. We should use this loss to find ways to avoid future losses,” said Paul Muller, Executive Director of Cincinnati Preservation Association.  Many historic buildings have viable reuse potential right now while others will be viable in the future. In those cases, it makes sense to secure and care for them until new uses can be found. When we adapt and reuse historic buildings, they benefit the community, the economy and the environment. 

Evidence of the benefits of reuse are seen throughout Cincinnati. It’s time to increase our commitment to retaining our exceptional historic building stock. We look forward to working with communities and the Landbank to create a systematic, proactive method to prevent future losses,” said Muller. 

About the Cable Car Building: The building was originally constructed in the early 1870’s as a powerhouse for the cable cars transporting passengers from downtown up to suburban Mt. Auburn. In 1892, the original stone cable car building was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt with a mixture of brick and the original stone. For over 125 years, the cable car building has been a unique landmark in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood.