Mount Adams


  This area was pretty well ignored during the city's earlier days ,even though it lay within the city limits, because of its rough features and inaccessibility. This all changed when Nicholas Longworth (1782-1863) acquired a large portion of this property in 1830. One of Longworth's main business interests was the making of wine. He started many vineyards around the Cincinnati area during the 1830s and 1840s, one of which was in this area which he called the Garden of Eden. His Catawba grapes produced a sparkling wine known as Golden Wedding Champagne. Many people attribute the name "Queen City" to a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about this champagne.

The richest and the best                      
Is the wine of the west                        
That grows by the beautiful river        
And this song of the wine                    
This greeting of mine                           
The winds and the birds shall deliver  
 To the Queen of the West                    
In her garlands dressed                      
By the banks of the beautiful river.    

  Disease destroyed this areas wine industry in the 1850s. It was in the mid 1860s that the city negotiated with Longworth's son Joseph (1813-1883) to use the Garden of Eden for a park. Eden Park was officially opened as a park in 1870-1871.
  In 1874 the construction of the Mt. Adams Incline finally opened up the hill to development by making the area much more accessible. In almost any view of Mt. Adams you will see four distinct buildings. The powerhouse for the incline, the Holy Cross Monastery, the Immaculata Church ,and the world famous Rookwood Pottery factory. The incline cards are found on the Streetcar page, while the other three are discussed below.

Aerial Mt. Adams.jpg (186079 bytes)*              B E V Mt Adams-Immaculata Church.jpg (98181 bytes)
Great Aerial Views


Mt Adams west view-1.jpg (117358 bytes)                Mt Adams west view-2.jpg (96052 bytes)
 Mt. Adams as seen from the west in two different eras.


Mt Adams east view-1.jpg (121291 bytes)                Mt Adams east view-2.jpg (97820 bytes)                Mt. Adams Soutwest Slope.jpg (1013148 bytes)
  Mt. Adams from the east. 

   The 3rd image above is a photograph.


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 Mt. Adams from river.             River from Mt. Adams.


Mt Adams-Bellevue.jpg (161917 bytes)
View from Bellevue Ky.


  When Longworth bought this land it was unofficially called Mt. Ida. He had donated four acres on the southern section of the hilltop to the Cincinnati Astronomical Society for an observatory site. In 1843 the cornerstone was laid for the Cincinnati Observatory which would house the 16-foot-long, 2000 pound telescope with an 11" lens that would become the largest telescope in the United States and second largest telescope in the world at that time. The credit for all this goes to a very remarkable man, Ormsby MacKnight Mitchel (1809-1862).  At the age of 15, the son of a Revolutionary War soldier, walked all the way from Cincinnati to West Point. After he returned to Cincinnati he began giving charismatic lectures on astronomy which fired up Cincinnatians so much that they donated $10,000 and two months wages and sent him to Munich for the telescope. The main speaker at the dedication ceremonies was former President John Quincy Adams who gave a 2 hour speech. He wrote in his diary that he would rather be known for that cornerstone than for being president. Afterwards the city council officially named the hill Mt. Adams in his honor.
   Mitchel became a professor at Cincinnati College and when the Civil War broke out became a general in the Union Army. His troops nicknamed him "Old Stars" because of his dedication to astronomy. Fort Mitchell in Northern Kentucky was named for the General because he was responsible for the defensive earthworks built here against the possible invasion of Cincinnati by Confederate forces in 1862. When the city was named an extra "L" was inadvertently added to his name. The general died of yellow fever that year.
   To find out what became of the observatory go to the U.C. section on the Education Page.

Not a postcard
Mt Adams Observatory.jpg (709999 bytes)
Original observatory



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Real  Photo


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Immaculate-aa.jpg (123778 bytes)            Immaculate Conception Mt Adams 9 interior.jpg (111398 bytes)            Immaculate-ab.jpg (139876 bytes)


not a postcard
Church of the Steps-tablet.jpg (239884 bytes)
Tablet found on site

   The Holy Cross-Immaculata Church construction began in 1859 and during its construction Archbishop John Purcell placed the Wayside Crucifix there. He then asked the Catholics in the Cincinnati basin to climb up Mt. Adams to the Crucifix and pray for the churches completion. So many Catholics complied to his request that a path was worn into the hill. To make the pilgrimage easier, Purcell had wooden steps built in 1860. The church was completed later that year. A person Praying the steps on Good Friday these days has three options: the longest consists of 470 steps and begins at Riverside Drive (across the street from the Montgomery Inn Boathouse) and can take up to 3 hours depending on how long you pray on each step, you can start at Columbia Parkway and climb 220 steps, or you can start on St. Gregory St. and climb the last 96 steps (this is where the large majority of Catholics, you do not have to be Catholic to participate, start. In 1911 the steps were replaced with reinforced concrete steps. These were replaced in 1958. In 2009 the entire flight of steps were again rebuilt (at a cost of $1, 900,000). On December 29, 1978 the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Immaculata Church.jpg (363262 bytes)
Overhead view

   This Good Friday tradition involved only the Immaculata until, in 1873, another Catholic church, Holy Cross, opened two blocks away. Priests at Immaculata gave their homilies in German due to the large numbers of Germans that lived in Mount Adams, plus only German was spoken at the Immaculata school. The growing Irish population in the area prompted the Passionist Order of Priests to buy the empty Cincinnati Observatory building and turn it into a Monastery, in addition, a English-speaking church and school were built. This early Holy Cross Church was torn down in 1895 and replaced with a larger one. From 1873 until its closing in 1970, the Good Friday Pilgrims would kiss the Wayside Crucifix outside Immaculata and then walk to Holy Cross and pray at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in the church basement. 
   When Holy Cross closed in 1970 the grotto was moved into Immaculata Church. The original Wayside Crucifix was moved inside Immaculata for its protection and a replica is now outside.

Monks Chapel.jpg (310563 bytes)                    Grotto-End of Pilgrimage.jpg (319468 bytes)    Holy Cross Our Lady of Lourdes.jpg (414885 bytes)
     Monks Chapel                                     Grotto.  End of Pilgrimage Procession



  By 1873 the coal smoke and exhaust steam from the increasing number of factories in the Cincinnati basin had made the accurate use of the telescope almost impossible, and so, the telescope and cornerstone were removed and installed on property in Mt. Lookout that had been donated by John Kilgour. This empty building was, in 1872, used by the Passionist Fathers as their first monastery. The Fathers leased the property for 99 years with an option to purchase. On June 22, 1873 6,000 people attended the dedication of the monastery and the adjacent frame holy Cross Church with Archbishop Purcell presiding. By the 1890s a larger church and monastery were needed. On August 25, 1895 the new church was dedicated, and in June of 1901 the Monastery you see below was completed.
  By 1970 population movement to the suburbs plus economic problems forced the church to close, and by 1977 the monastery was closed and sold to Towne Properties which turned it into an office building.

Mt. Adams BEV.jpg (338647 bytes)

   This bird's-eye-view of Mount Adams shows the monastery in the center.

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                                                                                                                                          Not a postcard


The Ida Street Bridge, seen in the first card above, was erected 1n 1882 by the Mt. Adams & Eden Park Inclined Plane Railway Company in order for the cars at the Mt. Adams Incline could get across to Eden Park and on to Gilbert Avenue and beyond. The bridge seen above was a combination of steel and wood  466' in length. In 1886 the city passed an ordinance, whereby the city was obligated to purchase the bridge for $15,000. In 1910 the Incline asked the city to carry out its contract plus they asked that the old bridge be removed and a new one erected. The cost of the new bridge was estimated at $50,000. Approval was given in December, 1930. Work started in February 1931 and full use began on August , 15th. Cost was closer to $100,000. The first image below is from the dedication ceremonies official program held on September 12, 1931. The 2nd item is an ad by the Philip Carey Company in Lockland. On November 28, 1980 The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The last image is a real photo postcard..

Not postcards                                                                                    
Bridge Dedication.jpg (1100747 bytes)        Eden Park Viaduct ad.jpg (608490 bytes)                                Mt. Adams Ida Street Bridge.jpg (316303 bytes)
Dedication poem         Philip Carey Ad.                                                            RPPC                



Not a postcard
Diehl's Pyrogarden-pyrotower-1853.jpg (698901 bytes)

   In 1849 Harrison Deihl moved his fireworks factory from the basin to the site of the future Rookwood Pottery. Next door, where the Mount Adams Incline and the Highland House would be in later years, he established a park called Pyrotechnic Gardens, called the Pyro. Here Deihl would set off fireworks displays seen for miles. Several times disastrous explosions would occur, and eventually the factory and park were closed and moved to Reading due to the increased congestion of the area. Believe it or not, a pony track took its place and then, of course, Rookwood Pottery. In the image above showing Cincinnati as it looked from the Pyrotechnic Gardens in 1853 you can clearly see the Miami Erie Canal going past, at what would later be Eggleston Avenue.



  Maria Longworth Nichols (1849-1932), granddaughter of Nicholas Longworth wanted to start a pottery shop so her father Joseph Longworth gave her a converted schoolhouse at 207 Eastern Avenue for her Rookwood Pottery. The name came from the name of the Longworth estate, plus it sounded much like the important pottery firm called Wedgewood. The first pieces came out of the kiln on thanksgiving day in 1880. The following year a full time decorator was hired to join a staff that included Henry Farny who later became a famous painter of the American Indian. Chemists were hired to develop unique glazes. The Eastern Avenue location was noisy and dirty and it flooded in 1883 and 1884. In 1891 the cornerstone was laid for the Mt. Adams factory. By this time more than 50 artists were employed , some of which were sent abroad to study. 

Not postcards
Maria Longworth Nichols.jpg (110539 bytes)        Maria Longworth Nichols.jpg (33190 bytes)                First Rookwood Pottery-1883.jpg (72929 bytes)
              Maria Longworth Nichols                                        1st Rookwood Pottery

  By the 1920s 200 men and women were working and were the company's most prosperous years. Then the depression hit and Rookwood was badly hurt. In 1934 the company lost $47,000 and on April 17, 1941, Rookwood went into receivership. Bought  by one time  Red's partial owner Marge Schott's husband Walter Schott, the inventory was liquidated. The manufacture of pottery continued on a 
very limited scale during the war and then, in 1949, the decorating staff was let go and the main buildings were rented out for offices. In the 1950s two new owners tried to start up the company again, but both failed.
  In 1960 Rookwood moved to Starkville, Mississippi taking over 1,200 original molds. Foreign competition and inflation finally forced the company out of business in 1967. As you can see in the last card other tenants tried to use the building for other purposes, but it was not until 1976 when the Rookwood Pottery restaurant opened that the building found a viable tenant. You can see some of the original pottery displayed in cases, with the dining tables set in and around the remaining beehive kilns.

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Rookwood-7.jpg (91577 bytes)    Rookwood-nn1.jpg (226964 bytes)    Rookwood-9.jpg (96341 bytes)    Rookwood-10.jpg (102251 bytes)    Rookwood-11.jpg (116347 bytes)


Mt Adams-rookwood double-2.jpg (195927 bytes)            Mt Adams-rookwood double-1.jpg (142131 bytes)

These double cards are the same except the telephone pole is gone in the right hand view.


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Same Image


rookwood-nm.jpg (168560 bytes)    Rookwood 7.jpg (229338 bytes)                                Rookwood Fritz Raymond.jpg (184369 bytes)

   The last real photo postcard above was taken by Fritz Van Houten Raymond (1878-1979) and is signed. Mr. Raymond was Rookwood Pottery's photographer, starting in 1900, and was also a photography teacher at the Art Academy for almost 70 years.  Some of this information was kindly provided by Amy Hartman who is the Great-Granddaughter of Mr. Raymond.


Rookwood.jpg (248042 bytes)
Not a postcard

   The last image above shows Rookwood as it looks today.


Rookwood.jpg (254969 bytes)                Rookwood Kiln.jpg (433932 bytes)

   The 2 non-postcard images above shows the Rookwood artists at work and a recent look at one of the kilns that were used.


Rookwood 1890 Article.jpg (598743 bytes)            Rookwood (2).jpg (96943 bytes)            Rookwood-1906.jpg (341548 bytes)
1890  Article                                                                            1906 Ad.          


   After a group of businessmen led by Walter Schott bought the pottery, they gave it to the Institutium Divi Thomae a scientific, educational and research foundation under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. For more on this Foundation go to The Religious Institutions Page 2.

Rookwood-Divi Thomae.jpg (143519 bytes)
Institutium Divi Thomae


   The Sterling Glass Company was located at 1069 Celestial St. next to the Mount Adams Inclines powerhouse. The famous Highland house once was located at this spot (see Incline Page). The firm was started in 1902.

Sterling Glass Co.jpg (223961 bytes)
Sterling Glass Co.



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