Tolzmann breaks from historical analysis in latest Over-the-Rhine book

Don Heinrich Tolzmann with his latest book. Photograph by Emily Schneider for UrbanCincy.

Few native-born Cincinnatians know as much about the history of this city as Don Heinrich Tolzmann, originally of Minnesota. The former University of Cincinnati professor, and president of the German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati, has written numerous tomes on Cincinnati history. His most recent book is for tourists and locals alike: Over-the-Rhine Tour Guide.

In contrast with most of his other work, this book is focused on the OTR of today, not decades past. Tolzmann says the reason for the change of style is due to the many requests he received to give tours of the historic neighborhood.

“Understanding Over-the-Rhine is the key to understanding the city,” Tolzmann told UrbanCincy.

In Over-the-Rhine Tour Guide, Tolzmann carefully describes nearly every block of the neighborhood, from its southern border of Central Parkway up to the Brewery District, and everything in between. Using buildings and streets as a framework, the guide carefully describes the architecture of the neighborhood.

Historical details are provided for each place, and changes that have occurred over the years are noted as well. Several historic poems, in German and English, connect the text to the old country.

The book delineates outlying areas where German immigrants lived, including Clifton and the West End. The book also serves as a literal guidebook, with directions for walking or driving throughout the neighborhood, and traveling between each of the landmarks described.

While considerable demolition has damaged parts of Over-the-Rhine’s historic urban fabric over the past several decades, the area remains dense and beautiful.

“Over-the-Rhine still contains one of the most comprehensive collections of buildings built by Germans for Germans, especially in the popular Queen Anne and Italianate styles,” said local historian Betty Ann Smiddy. “To walk the streets now you can feel yourself drifting back in time and can envision all that the neighborhood once was.”

Over-the-Rhine Tour Guide, can be purchased at local bookstores and through online through Little Miami Publishing. With its photographs and clear descriptions, the book serves as a useful companion for a neighborhood stroll. But for those visitors wanting a quick survey of the neighborhood, here are Tolzmann’s top three attractions:

Findlay Market: “Get a feeling for the neighborhood. The sausage, cheese, bread, fruit and vegetables are sold in an open-air market like you’d find in Germany.”

Germania Building (12th and Walnut): “Symbolizes German heritage in Over-the-Rhine, devotion to culture and history of Germany.”

Washington Park Area: “Surrounded by institutions like Music and Memorial Halls and six German churches, this area shows the musical impact, military service in wars, and religious influence in Over-the-Rhine.”

11.11.11 event to help reclaim Cincinnati’s acoustically renowned Emery Theatre

It started as a youthfully idealistic dream: reopening a local theatre that had fallen into disrepair. While viewing a nearby apartment, two young women spotted the Emery Theatre space and asked their rental agent about it. When told it would never reopen, they rose to the challenge and determined to bring the famed music venue back to life.

Mary Emery bequeathed the Samuel Hannaford-designed Emery Building to the city in 1911. For more than 20 years, its theatre housed the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Theatrical shows of all kinds took place there through the first half of the 20th century, and later it was used for film nights. For more than a decade, however, the theatre has been largely empty. Now two young leaders hope to engage the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and provide entertainment and educational opportunities at the Emery once again.

Inside Cincinnati’s famed Emery Theatre – photograph by 5chw4r7z.

The contemporary part of the story dates back to the fall of 2008 when Cincinnati-born Tina Manchise and Tara Lindsey Gordon, friends and collaborators in New York City, came to Cincinnati in the wake of the sudden death of Manchise’s mother. Gordon, a Boston native, loved Cincinnati and considered moving here after Manchise decided to stay back with family instead of returning to New York.

They decided to form a nonprofit called The Requiem Project to stabilize and restore the theatre. Early supporters included photographer Michael Wilson and downtown advertising firm Strata-G, which helped Gordon and Manchise secure grant funds. With the close partnership of the Emery Center Corporation, this acoustically-pure arts venue is now planned to be reopen by summer 2012.

“This project is about community investment,” Gordon said. They envision a broad range of uses for the many rooms included in the theatre area of the Emery Center building. “We aim to use every square inch of the space,” Manchise mentioned as she discussed the vision of a broad range of uses for the space that could include dance, music, drama, visual arts and more.

There have been 36 organizations to-date that have stepped up to support The Requiem Project. This Friday, a preview event dubbed 11.11.11 is planned to raise funds and allow Cincinnatians to explore the Emery’s artistic potential up close. Organizers also say that The Requiem Project will unveil its capital plan and renovation details at the event.

Tickets start at $75 and can be purchased online or by calling (513) 300-5669. The event will include performances by Madcap Puppet Theatre, Exhale Dance Tribe, and Over-the-Rhine.

Farmers markets growing in popularity throughout Cincinnati region

Over the past decade, America has seen the gradual blossoming of a broad natural food movement. This movement is due, in part, to books from writers like Michael Pollen and documentary films such as Super Size Me. These works have shown the unhealthiness of processed foods, which (driven by booming urban populations and the decline of traditional rural life) had grown in popularity since the end of World War II.

Americans today, particularly in cities, have demonstrated an interest in getting back to their roots – literally. The surge of attention to what we eat has led to an unprecedented interest in cooking and eating locally-produced food. Many people have left corporate jobs to become farmers or chefs. Beyond the ever-widening availability of organic foods, we have seen “farm-to-table” dining and a rise in gardening, even in urban areas like Over-the-Rhine.

Luckily, all the demand for natural food means an increase in the availability of healthy, freshly-prepared meals, even when we may be too stressed or time constrained to cook them ourselves. Another benefit, from a larger societal standpoint, is a recent flattening of the adult obesity rate in the United States.

Locally, one of the best aspects of this movement is a wider array of seasonal farmer’s markets. Now it’s easy to get fresh, local food throughout the Queen City with dozens of seasonal and year-round farmers markets.

Findlay Market is the crown jewel of Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Operating since 1855, it offers Cincinnatians everything they could want in a market and more, year-round. It houses restaurants, numerous delis and produce shops, fishmongers, spice sellers, florists, bakers, textile vendors, Asian grocers and even a biergarten.

New shops include a bakery-café, pet supply store and a Vietnamese restaurant. Recent efforts to “Green the Market” have included the installation of solar panels on the market roof, plus waste reduction and new energy-efficient lighting. And as efforts stir to expand Findlay Market and improve its surroundings, it appears that Ohio’s oldest market is poised for a bright future.

We have put together a comprehensive listing of Cincinnati-area farmers markets. We have certainly missed a few, so please feel free to provide some added content to us by commenting on this story. Share the map with your friends and family so that they may take advantage of a farmers market near them. And if there isn’t one, check to see how to get one started in your neighborhood.

German Day Weekend reminds Cincinnatians of German roots

Cincinnati’s German heritage will be evident this Saturday and Sunday at the 116th German Day Weekend.  The event will begin at 11am Saturday June 4 at Findlay Market with a parade and opening ceremony.  German dance and singing groups will perform, and representatives from numerous area German-American societies will be on hand.

Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, president of the German-American Citizen’s League and author of several books including German Cincinnati, says that “Germans influenced just about everything in the area: even the symbol of the city, the Tyler Davidson fountain which was brought from Munich, and the suspension bridge, which was built by Roebling, a German immigrant.”

2010 German Day Parade.

Along with St. Louis and Milwaukee, Cincinnati forms a part of the German Triangle, consisting of the three major centers of German heritage in the United States.  The first Germans came to this area in the late 18th century, and many followed in the 19th and 20th century.  “Germans were involved in all different industries in addition to brewing, like baking, banking, and music,” said Tolzmann, a retired UC professor.

On Sunday, June 5, join the fun at Hofbräuhaus Newport, where German music can be enjoyed throughout the day along with German food and plenty of beer.  Hourly raffle prizes will culminate in a grand raffle at 5:30pm: a dinner party for 20 at Hofbräuhaus.  Raffles will support the GACL and Cincinnati’s German Heritage Museum

The museum, which showcases memorabilia, artifacts and pictures relating to Cincinnati’s German history, located at 4764 West Fork Road, is open 1pm to 5pm on Sundays and by appointment.

43rd Annual Duveneck Art Show displays local artist works

This Mother’s Day, over 50 local artists will be represented at the 43rd Duveneck Memorial Art Show in Covington. The free show will take place from 12pm to 5pm, Sunday at the George Rogers Clark Park on Riverside Drive, near the foot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Live banjo music will be played throughout the afternoon, and food will be available through the Twin Bistro of Covington. Attendees can browse, listen to music, purchase art, and vote for their favorite artists.

2010 Duveneck Award winner Joe Stewart, with event chairs Jon Moeller and Lisa Sauer. Photo provided.

Original artists in the fields of painting, sculpture, graphics and fine crafts will display and sell their work, and compete for awards totaling $3,000. Judges include gallery owners, teachers and other art professionals. This year’s winner is Joe Stewart

The art show is the largest annual project of the Northern Kentucky Heritage League, which reconstructed and beautified the park in 1969. “It’s a beautiful little setting,” said NKHL’s president Dick Murgatroyd.

The annual event honors Frank Duveneck (1848-1919), a Covington-born painter who studied and worked in Europe before returning to the area, where he taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. His work can be seen in museums worldwide, and at the Cincinnati Art Museum.