Downtown Buildings 7




  The first year of operation for the Cincinnati Library was 1855. 1,500 books were purchased for the Ohio School and Family Library and was located, for a short time, at Central High School on Longworth St. Which no longer exists. It was located north of 5th Street between Vine and Race. In 1856 the library was moved to the second floor of  the Ohio Mechanics Institute on the corner of 6th and Vine. By 1868 the library moved to the building you see below. Located at 629 Vine Street the building was built originally to be used as the Truman B. Handy Opera House. That deal became bankrupt so the building was basically nothing but a four story auditorium. The center was nothing but a huge open well reaching from the floor to the roof. The books were kept on all 4 floors around the outside walls which, when built, had been the balcony and box seats  for the opera house. Children were not allowed to go up there, their books were on the second floor in front. Since this arrangement would only hold 200,000 volumes, the remaining 800,000 books had to be housed in a library annex behind this building known as the Main Hall which opened four years later in 1874. There was also a third building behind this one.

Lib-1.jpg (259488 bytes)                Library e.jpg (622032 bytes)

Six non-postcard views of the inside of this library.

    Lib-1b.jpg (104619 bytes)        Lib-1a.jpg (85223 bytes)        Lib-2b.jpg (519891 bytes)        Lib-3.jpg (260266 bytes)


Library  1 vert.jpg (80595 bytes)                Library  2 vert.jpg (113418 bytes)                Library-z1.jpg (224228 bytes)                Library  3 vert.jpg (126759 bytes)                Library  4 vert.jpg (122378 bytes)

Library  1 horz.jpg (100901 bytes)


   Because Hamilton County voters kept defeating bond issues to erect a new structure, it was not until 1955 before the library was able to move into the building seen below, 2 blocks north on the northeast corner of 8th and Vine Streets.

New Library 1.jpg (108819 bytes)    New Library 2.jpg (178478 bytes)    Cincinnati Library-4.jpg (288326 bytes)    New Library 3.jpg (144463 bytes)    Library at Night.jpg (326796 bytes)

Library book rm.jpg (684644 bytes)                Library's Weinberg Fountain.jpg (849027 bytes)
       John T. Noland, Jr.                    Amelia Valerio Weinberg
    Rare Book Room                           Memorial Fountain

Library-Tulip Tree.jpg (870597 bytes)        Library-Garden.jpg (702957 bytes)        Library-Statue.jpg (547282 bytes)        Library-Atrium.jpg (778551 bytes)        Library-Signature Wall.jpg (408835 bytes)        Library-Bell.jpg (308976 bytes)
Library's Tulip Tree       Library's Garden   Statue-Children's Dept.          Atrium                 Signature Wall                   Bell                

   The Signature Wall is where hundreds of people, groups, and organizations have been honored with individually purchased and fashioned tiles permanently affixed into an original terra cotta design. The Bell, Located in the Browsing Room, is from the 3rd USS Cincinnati, and honors Hamilton County men who have served in the United States Navy.

Slide Cabinet.jpg (183312 bytes)                                Library Birds of America.jpg (310058 bytes)                Guttenberg Bible Page-Library.jpg (882214 bytes)
A. Nielen's Lantern Slide Cabinet                         Birds of America          Page from Gutenberg Bible    
Donated to library Dec. 1936                                                                                                                     

   The rare James Audubon's 4-volumn work Bird's of America is on permanent display in the Tower Room at the Public Library.  The page from the original Gutenberg Bible printed by Johann Gutenberg (1400-1468) inventor of movable type printing is on permanent display in the Tower Room.

Cincinnati Public Library.jpg (254442 bytes)

   The present day aerial photograph above shows the library as it looks after its expansions over the years.



  These three cards are of the Mercantile Library Building at 414 Walnut Street. In 1845 (before the existence of the public library) 45 young businessmen founded the Young Men's Mercantile Library Association "for the purpose of establishing a library and reading room, to be appropriated for the use of young men engaged solely in mercantile pursuits." In 1840 they moved their 1,660 books to the second floor of the Cincinnati College building on this site. On January 19, 1845 the building burned down but the books were saved thanks to the men of four fire companies joining together to save the volumes. After the association raised $10,000 to rebuild the College the library's attorney, Judge Alphonso Taft (the father of President William Howard Taft), wrote an agreement that gave the association a 10,000 year lease on the second floor of the College, rent free. It cost $10,000 which equates to $1 per year. 
  By 1902 downtown land had increased in value so much that Thomas Emery's Sons bought the old College Building and struck a deal with the Mercantile Library Association. In exchange for its perpetual lease in the college, the library would receive new quarters on the 11th and 12th floors of the building you see in the cards below. There is a special elevator for the use of its members. The 10,000 year lease is still in effect and it is renewable forever. It is now (2014) 179 years old.
   The library is not a public or municipal library. It is a members library with annual dues starting at $55 per year. There are currently 2,000 members.

Mercantile Library 1.jpg (112995 bytes)                        Mercantile Library 2.jpg (114224 bytes)                        Mercantile Library 3.jpg (128341 bytes)

Mercantile Library Building 1907.jpg (1266676 bytes)                                    Mercantile Library Building.jpg (232524 bytes)

   The first image above is a very large photograph of the Mercantile Building taken in 1907. The orange building in the center of the aerial photograph above is the Mercantile Library building as seen from the rear.


Removing Building.jpg (140956 bytes)*

   The card above shows the demolition of a building on Main near Liberty in July of 1912 by the James L. Pence Co.  


Removing an Old Land Mark , Second & Hamilton Ave., Mt. Healthy.jpg (40556 bytes)*

   This card shows the demolition of a building in Mt. Healthy at 2nd and Hamilton.


P and G ser.jpg (372625 bytes)
P & G  Twin Towers








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