The Fate of 1329 Walnut and Mercer Commons

It has come to my attention that 1329 Walnut St. may soon be on the chopping block to make way for the Mercer Commons development by 3CDC. Mercer Commons is a $51 million development that will bring new commercial and residential units to a large area in the heart of OTR. Restoration of over a dozen buildings and new construction on 25 vacant parcels is planned. Since at least April 2010, 3CDC has been releasing renderings of Mercer Commons that do not include 1329 Walnut and 1314 Vine. Permission to demolish 1329 Walnut has not yet been granted and there must be a public hearing before any demolition can take place.

The following two renderings show the location of 1329 Walnut outlined in yellow:

Location of 1329 Walnut highlighted in yellow

Location of 1329 Walnut highlighted in yellow

It should be noted that 3CDC’s preservation and restoration efforts in Over-the-Rhine have been exemplary, and Mercer Commons is an exciting project that will dramatically improve Over-the-Rhine. This post deals with two buildings that may be demolished to make way for progress.

The following photos were contributed by Danny Klingler of OTR A.D.O.P.T. and the history and maps were contributed by Ann Senefeld of Digging Cincinnati History.

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The view of 1314 Vine from 1329 Walnut, photo credit: Danny Klingler:

A street view of the building:

The following maps and research were contributed by research historian Ann Senefeld of Digging Cincinnati History:

1887 map, credit: Ann Senefeld

1891 map, credit: Ann Senefeld

According to this source, 1329 Walnut was an early meeting place of the General Swiss Colonization Society which would prove influential in the colonization of the western lands of the United States by Swiss and German immigrants. Its central office was in Cincinnati and branch societies existed in Sandusky, Milwaukee, Lexington, Louisville, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Terre Haute, Davenport, Dubuque, Indianapolis, Newport, Monroe, Memphis, Xenia, and Chicago among others.

“For a period in the early history of the society, its [the Swiss Colonization Society of Cincinnati] officers met in the “Deutsche Republik,” a wine-house, located at the corner of Walnut and Mercer Streets.”

In Daniel J. Kenny’s 1879 book Cincinnati Illustrated: A Pictorial Guide to Cincinnati and the Suburbs, the hall on the southwest corner of Walnut and Mercer is mentioned three times:

GERMAN PRINTERS ASSOCIATION Meets once every at the southwest corner of Mercer and Walnut streets Its membership is about fifty It partakes of the nature of a protective union combined with a relief society

HARUGARI MAENNERCHOR A men’s Singing society of 40 members Meets every Monday night at Turner, Walnut and Mercer streets. Arthur Mees, Director.

GREUTI RELIEF ASSOCIATION The membership is composed of Swiss residents exclusively It is devoted to mutual and sociability as its name implies The society numbem about two hundred persons Weekly meetings are held at the hall on the southwest corner of Mercer and Walnut streets

I concluded my article on the fate of 1314 Vine in this way:

Determining the fate of 1314 Vine Street would be better addressed sooner rather than later.

Now is the time to start the conversation.

What will be the fate of 1329 Walnut? The clock is ticking.

3 Responses to “The Fate of 1329 Walnut and Mercer Commons”
  1. Schmiez says:

    It sometimes crosses my mind that in 70 years we could read “Jon/Joan Smith, current CEO of P&G, started their career as an intern, and lived in Mercer Commons in OTR”…

    I cannot give enough props to 3CDC for the work they’ve done thus far, and what we can refer to as Renaissance 1.0 for OTR on Vine and Main (this one is sticking not like the 90’s Ren).

    But Ren2.0 with Mercer will push the neighborhood to another level (for better or worse based on varying opinions). Id love to save it all. But they tore down buildings to build the SCPA, which improved Wash park area, which improved nearby neighborhood, which made sense to improve Wash park. Mercer could very well spell relief and refurbishing for many of the area buildings that may suffer similar fate in the near future.

  2. Justin says:

    The ’90s “renaissance” didn’t “stick” because there was a race riot in 2001. It had nothing to do with the work that was done. In fact, I would argue that our current situation would be much worse if earlier work on Main Street was not done.

    I think the most important thing is that work get started as soon as possible. The longer we sit on our hands the more likely we are to lose some momentum.

    Both buildings obviously have historic value. Currently, neither has much aesthetic value. The roof decoration of the Vine Street building has the most character, and therefore the building could add value to the street if restored. The facade could be used, and the rear demolished for the parking garage. A question I have is why the new Vine Street construction is so modern. Correct me if I’m wrong, but OTR’s lack of modern styling is what appealed to Arthur Frommer when he visited. Why can’t the new construction follow the look-and-feel of the street?

    The Walnut St building has little aesthetic value, even if it is restored. Looking at the renderings, I think new construction looks better than what’s there now. That corner building has no character, even for a historic building.

    Ultimately, the decision will be made by persons who have access to much more information about the buildings than we do.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Report. Read more about Mercer Commons, the two buildings that may be demolished (1314 Vine and 1329 Walnut), and older renderings here. See all the renderings in this flickr set. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; […]

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