7 Fun Facts About Walnut Hills

June 12, 2020

Walnut Hills Branch Library Cincinnati

It’s a vibrant and diverse community with a rich and fascinating history. Here are seven fun facts about Walnut Hills.

1. It’s one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods

Cincinnati was incorporated as a town in 1802. Eight years earlier, in 1794, the Reverend James Kemper established a farm, which he dubbed Walnut Farm, on one of the hills above the town. He built a two-story log cabin near what is today the corner of Kemper Lane and East McMillan, roughly where the old Kroger is located. 

His family lived there until 1912 when the house was moved to the Cincinnati Zoo. In 1983, it was relocated again, winding up at Heritage Village in Sharon Woods, where it remains to this day.

2. It has the first Carnegie library in Cincinnati

The Walnut Hills branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County opened in 1906. It was the first branch built in Cincinnati as part of the Carnegie library initiative. Between 1883 and 1929, Pittsburgh-based industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated millions to the construction of libraries across the country, as well as Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Serbia, Belgium, France, the Caribbean, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Fiji. Nine were built in Cincinnati.

3. It’s where you’ll find the Harriet Beecher Stowe House

A native of Connecticut, Harriet Beecher Stowe was a key part of the Underground Railroad movement. She moved to Cincinnati, where her father had relocated, in 1832, when she was 21. She married fellow abolitionist Reverend Calvin Ellis Stowe in 1836. The couple regularly hid fugitive slaves in their home on Gilbert Avenue. In the 1850s, the couple moved to Maine, where they continued to advocate strongly for abolition. 

4. Peeble’s Corners was once a bustling business district

The corner of East McMillan and Gilbert was once so busy, the area surrounding it was referred to as Cincinnati’s second downtown. Originally known as Kemper’s Corner, it was where six streetcar lines intersected starting in the late 1800s. It gradually became known as Peeble’s Corner after Joseph R. Pebble built a grocery store there in 1883.

In 1985, the area became a registered historic district. In recent years, a lot of redevelopment has taken place, both residential and commercial.

5. It has one of the nation’s top high schools

Walnut Hills High School opened in September of 1895 at the corner Ashland and Burdette Avenues. It moved to its current location on Victory Parkway in 1931. The original building is now a condominium called School Lofts and still bears the name Walnut Hills High School over the main entrance.

Today, Walnut Hills High School is one of the top 100 high schools in the United States.

6. Dr. Lucy Oxley opened her family practice there

In 1935, Lucy Oxley became the first African American woman to earn a medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. A few years later, she opened a practice in Walnut Hills, where she pioneered the idea of family medicine. She also worked on cancer research and served as the medical director for student health at two historically black colleges: Wilberforce College in Wilberforce, Ohio as well as Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina.

7. The neighborhood was home to the city’s first African American-owned drugstore. 

William Manggrum and his wife Loretta opened their drugstore at the corner of Park and Chapel in the late 1920s. Loretta was the first African American to receive a degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. 

Their store was an important gathering place for the local community, trained young pharmacists, and sponsored a local Negro league baseball team called the Manggrums. 

Leave a comment