This year for Christmas, I decided to write my mom’s family history for her. Most of her lineage is German and her immigrant ancestors settled in the Queen City— that great bastion of German heritage better known as Cincinnati, Ohio, in the predominantly German community known as “Over-the-Rhine.” Over-the-Rhine was once a vibrant, bustling, booming success story. German immigrants arrived in Cincinnati in droves starting about the 1840s, and worked hard to develop a thriving community of churches, schools, newspapers, banks and breweries. Unfortunately, like many once great communities, Over-the-Rhine fell victim to the conflagration of poverty, crime and interstate development, which began about 1950. Over-the-Rhine became a depressing case study in urban decline.
The community, overlooked for so long, is experiencing a long-awaited re-awakening. The inherent value of the Italianate architecture is recognized as one of the best “intact urban historic districts” in the country. If only the walls could talk!
While researching my mom’s Herold line, I came across an old city directory listing that indicated they were living at 57 Hamer Street, in Over-the-Rhine, in the early 1850s. A quick Google search brought me to this internet gem: http://tailorshopotr.com/apartments/history/. Imagine my surprise when I realized that there was an entire section of the website written about my mom’s second great-grandparents — the Herolds! That, my friends, is striking genealogical gold!
The Tailor Shop is the current location of the original 57 Hamer Street (the address is presently 1667 Hamer Street, but it’s the same building). The vast majority of the tenants (including several Herold ancestors) who lived in this building were tailors and seamstresses, hence the name, Tailor Shop. Some enterprising preservationists are now rehabbing the structure to its former glory and developing three, one-bedroom apartments. Breweries are back in the neighborhood, as are locally owned stores and restaurants.
John (the man who runs the Tailor Shop website and who is chronicling the renovations) and I chatted about getting together and sharing information on the first family of 57 Hamer Street, the Herolds (whom records indicate were not just tenants, but might have actually been the building owners). Luckily for me, John was going to be in my neck of the woods, and we were able to meet and share notes on the Herold family. John provided me with some fascinating information on the building and the hard work being done to renovate it. For me, it was another instance of genealogy making the world a smaller place and connections being made where none previously existed. I can’t wait to see 1667 Hamer Street when renovations are complete! I know my Herold ancestors are quite pleased their once neglected property is finally getting some much-needed TLC and attention.
For more information on the Tailor Shop, you can visit their website (see link above), or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TailorShopOTR.