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Much Older than Garfield Place, Piatt Park is Cincinnati’s First Open Public Space

Much Older than Garfield Place, Piatt Park is Cincinnati’s First Open Public Space

Extending to the west of Vine Street in what is now known as downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, Eighth Street looses its identity in its first two westward blocks where a slight jog occurs and the thoroughfare is bisected by a park.  Today we know this as Garfield Place and its associated median as Piatt Park.

Garfield Place Piatt Park Cincinnati Ohio James Garfield President

In 1882, after the assignation of James A. Garfield (1831-1881), the short-lived Ohio President, the two block “park avenue” was memorialized as Garfield Place in 1882.  Yet the reserve existed longer before…

Garfield Place Piatt Park Cincinnati Ohio James Garfield President

In fact, the history of this place dates to 1817 when early prominent citizens of Cincinnati, John and Benjamin Piatt, donated a long narrow lot, roughly 1 acre, as a public reserve to be used for the construction of a public market.  When the market never came to fruition, a cultivated lot was dedicated in 1868 as the Eighth Street Park.  And would eventually become Garfield Place. As previously stated, this occurred in 1882 and in just a few short years, a great bronze statue was erected to memorialize the Ohio president. It was executed by Charles Henry Nichaus (1855-1935), a Cincinnati born sculptor, who was to no surprise of German parents.  The statue was dedicated in 1887 where it stood on a larger more architectural stone pedestal in the center of a widened portion of Race Street at the western end of Garfield Place.   As changed provoked by traffic patterns  in 1915, the statue was moved to teh head of the park facing its former location in Race Street.  Not only in a new location and on a new pedestal, the statue is in a new park or at least a newly named park, as it was officially named by the city Piatt park in 1940.

Garfield Place Piatt Park Cincinnati Ohio James Garfield President

Other integral features in Garfield Place include the statue of William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), the former Doctors Building, the former Cuvier Press Club Building,  the Cincinnati Club Building, and the Covenant-First Presbyterian Church.  The statue of Harrison is of the former President on horseback and the bronze creation, completed in the early 1890s by Louis Rebisso, lingered in storage for the first few years of its life as it wasn’t dedicated until 1895-96 when it was taken from the basement of the National Guard Armory, installed, and finally dedicated.  At No. 19 Garfield Place is an 8-story Tudor Gothic pile, formerly the Doctor’s Building, which was constructed following WWI.

Garfield Place Piatt Park Cincinnati Ohio James Garfield President

At No. 22 Garfield Place the former Cuvier Press Club Building (formed in 1871) occupied what was originally built as a large, ornate stone mansion by the Fechheimer family.  Formerly at Opera Place, the Cuvier Club moved to the Fechheimer Mansion in 1938.  Most noticeable, as the tallest older building in Garfield Place, the Cincinnati Club Building, at the NE corner of Garfield Place and Race Street, was completed as a 10-story limestone building in 1924.  One of the finest club houses of its time, the building had a turkish bath, dining rooms, billiard rooms, bowling alleys, a library, reading rooms, and residential quarters.  Facing the park, the Gothic Revival wonderment is home to Covenant-First Presbyterian Church at the SW corner of Elm and Eight Streets, representing the union of several congregations and was dedicated in 1875 as the Second Presbyterian Church.

While things have changed, old Piatt Park certainly remains central to Garfield Place…

Old Image Located at…

9 Responses to “Much Older than Garfield Place, Piatt Park is Cincinnati’s First Open Public Space”
  1. pell grants says:

    Beneficial info and excellent design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your ideas and putting the time into the stuff you publish! Great work!

  2. Emilie says:

    I work for the company which now owns the fechheimer mansion. I want to get more details as I along with a number of other co-workers here have experienced “hauntings” while inside 22 Garfield place. Please let me know where I can find more history of this building.

    Thank you

  3. admin says:

    Dear Madam,

    As we like to please our readers, we are entirely at your disposal, this for you and your fellows in occupation in Garfield Place. Let us make some inquiries with certain authorities on the subject of Cincinnati and Garfield Place. At our earliest convenience, we will employ costly methods that are not accessible to the public free of charge. This will allow us to point you in the right direction if we have not produced an answer ourselves.

    We think you will find a dossier of historical information to be helpful in establishing whether or not the history of occupancy is linked to the hauntings at No. 22 Garfield Place. We understand how disturbing a haunting can be when one is not sure of why such things are happening upon them or their edifice. Establishing an understanding of perhaps ‘why?’ may be meaningful to all of those employed at your place of business.

    We hope to provide some meaningful information and perhaps direction in the next few days in response to your inquiry.

    Yours obediently,
    An Agent of the Curator of Shit

  4. Anna says:

    I have an old photo I’m trying to find out who it is and the photographer or studio where it was taken. It shows in the bottom right hand corner, Studio Grand Garfield Place N.E. Corn 8th and Race, Cincinnati, Ohio. It has a seal on it also. I was wondering if you might have any information on the studio?
    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  5. admin says:

    Email us a copy of the picture and we will publish a report in due time…

  6. Timothy says:

    I am the archivist for a well known Cincinnati artist who submitted an illustration of the new ( 1955) public library to The Lincoln-Mercury Times. The view of the library is from the Vine Street side of Piatt Park. The equestrian statue of Harrison is positioned there………. why were the statues swapped?
    Thanks so much for a reply.

  7. Chris Nunner says:

    Thanks for providing answers to many questions I had about Garfield Park. My mother said that her father, John A Schroer Sr (born 1874 in Cincinnati, Oh) served as a model for President William Henry Harrison on the equestrian statue by Louis Rebisso. That would be our family’s claim to fame!

  8. Anne says:

    “Assignation” is a sexual encounter. I think the word you wanted was “assassination.”

  9. judith says:

    Timothy, is your artist Caroline Williams? I have some of her original drawings and galley proofs,found ,in the St. Vincent Dr Paul thrift store. I plan to frame and display some of these as they are truly beautiful. Just wondering if anyone else is familiar with Me. Williams work.

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