Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Hotel at 12th and Republic

I just love this sign on the side of this building at 12th and Republic in Over-the-Rhine:
24-30 W 12th Street; Source - Google Street View
So what is this hotel? The story starts around 1880, when this building was built and Republic Street was called by its original name, Bremen Street. In that year, there was a barber shop in the left storefront, a saloon on the right and upstairs was a boarding house ran by Mary Droppelman. Just five years later, a daily market and meat store replaced the barber shop, but the saloon continued in its space.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Finally, in 1893, a hotel is found. It is run by William Stross, an immigrant from, where else but Germany and he, along with his wife Antonia, ran this hotel. They had 12 children but only 10 were alive in 1900. William previously had a saloon on Vine Street and continued to run a saloon at the street level of his hotel.
STROSS WM., Proprietor Stross Hotel; also, Wine, Beer, Liquors and Cigars, n.w.c. 12th and Bremen - 1893 Williams' City Directory
In 1900, there was a mention of the Stross Hotel in this newspaper article:
During a fire which damaged the Stross hotel at Cincinnati, O, to the extent of $3,000, Miss Dolly Le Claire, a trapeze artist, descended from a high window on a rope made of bed clothes.
Unfortunately, William Stross died at 48 years old in 1906 and this very interesting memorial was written about him in The Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic:
Dr. William Stross, graduate of the Miami Medical College, class of 1903, died at his home at Twelfth and Bremen after a lingering illness, of Bright's disease. Dr. Stross has had a singular and interesting history. Born in Germany forty-eight years ago, he served as a musician in the German army for his term and then came to America in 1883. He was a master of several musical instruments and toured the country for several years as a member of Weber's Band. Fifteen years ago he established the Stross Hotel. Becoming interested in medicine, matriculated some years ago in the Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery, and finally graduated at the Miami Medical College when the two colleges merged. There was perhaps no work of his active life of which he was more proud than the securing of his medical degree, though he never had an idea of entering the active practice of his profession. The memory of William Stross will long be held in loving remembrance by those who knew him best. Of his many kindnesses to members of the theatrical profession, who constituted the principal patrons of his hotel, there are innumerable stories. Probably few will know of the helping financial hand that he gave to many struggling medical students, save the recipients themselves. It is safe to say, however, that he was the most popular man of his class. His classmates were often his guests, and at the time of his graduation they were no less delighted than himself. The world can ill afford to lose such men as William Stross. Honest, kind-hearted, God-fearing, a devoted husband and loving father, the deepest sympathy of all who knew him is extended to his bereaved family.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Antonia continued to run the Stross Hotel until 1913. At that time, the shops on the ground floor became a "clothing renovators" shop and a restaurant. In 1920, the Republic Hotel at 24-26 W 12th Street was run by Henry Howard but just five years later, furnished rooms are offered by Mary Whitaker, with Hygiene Corset Company at the corner and Kroger Grocery & Baking Company at 26 W 12th. This must have been a time of great change in the neighborhood, because in 1930, the Hygiene Corset Company is still in business but the other spaces are listed as vacant.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
But as you can see from the map above, the Republic Hotel makes a comeback and is once again listed in the city directories in 1935, run by Osmer Riggs.

In more recent history, the building was sold in 1988 to Tender Mercies, an organization that provides housing and services to homeless person with emotional and/or mental disabilities. Some renovations were made at that time and the building was called Harkavy Hall, in honor of Frank Harkavy, a former president of the Board of Directors of Tender Mercies.
2005 Hamilton County Auditor
In 2007, plans for renovations were made that involved remodeling the interior, saving historic details where possible. When it was finished in 2009, mechanical changes made included adding an elevator and central air conditioning. In addition, the facade was restored and the courtyard was updated. Luckily, the "HOTEL" sign was kept so we all could learn more about this building at the northwest corner of West 12th and Republic.
Hamilton County Auditor

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