On Honoring Local Notables

DSC03343Thanks to blogger friend Resa in Toronto, Canada, I’ve taken notice of the wonderful murals on display in Cincinnati. ArtWorks, a non-profit organization founded in 1996, is leading the way with its creative vision, energy and focus on employing and training youth.

This post is about the murals that feature prominent Cincinnatians – some who you may know, and others you may not. By the end of summer, ArtWorks hope to have completed the mural of another local treasure – Rosemary Clooney. Meanwhile, enjoy this with the brief story that goes with each that I listed in a timeline. Let me know what you think of this collection.



Cincinnati is named after Cincinnatus, a Roman leader and a model of Roman virtue. George Washington (America’s first president) is often compared to Cincinnatus. Whereas Washington quietly retired after serving his country, Cincinnatus retired to his farm after saving Rome.

Commissioned in 1983 and completed by Cincinnati artist Richard Hass, ArtWorks will be renovating Cincinnatus soon.

Cincinnatus is located at the corner of Central Parkway and Vine Street (downtown Cincinnati)

Elizabeth Nourse

This mural is a rendition of the self-portrait by Elizabeth Nourse (1859-1938), a Cincinnati native who went on to a successful art career in Paris. Known for her social realism style, Nourse became one of the few women in her time period to receive international recognition and she became the first American woman voted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Self Portrait, Elizabeth Nourse is located at 8th Street & Walnut Street (downtown Cincinnati)

Samuel Hannaford

Image from ArtWorks Cincinnati

Samuel Hannaford )(1835-1911) was a Cincinnati architect. He designed over 300 buildings locally – including business buildings, theaters, churches, apartments, houses, and more. His most prominent landmarks include Music Hall, City Hall, Elsinore Tower (all in the mural), and Cincinnati Observatory.

The mural is a view from the window of his mind looking toward the visions of his creations.

Visit The Vision of Samuel Hannaford at 1308 Race St (Downtown in Over the Rhine)

Henry the Strongman

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Henry Holtgrewe (1862-1917) was a German-born immigrant who settled in Cincinnati. Although he ran a saloon, much of his spare time were performing various feats of strength, many regarded the Cincinnati Strongman as the Strongest Man in the World. This mural salutes him and his feats, including lifting an entire baseball team with his back. The mural is located Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine neighborhood (just north of city center), which is where Henry Holtgrewe lived and worked.

The Cincinnati Strong Man: Henry Holtgrewe is at 1215 Vine Street (Downtown in Over The Rhine)

Ezzard Charles

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Look at those eyes – the eyes of a boxing champion. Ezzard Charles (1921-1975) (the Cincinnati Cobra) was the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World (1949-1951). Besides naming a street for Charles (noted by an exit on I-75), this mural was the 100th completed by ArtWorks.

Ezzard Charles: The Cincinnati Cobra is at 1537 Republic Street, Cincinnati (Downtown in Over the Rhine)

Two Jims in One

That’s my name for this mural because it features two true Cininnatians. The face is Jim Tarbell, a local businessman, a former member of city council, a popular Cincinnati personality, and a proud Cincinnatian. In this salute, Jim Tarbell is dressed as Peanut Jim Shelton (1889-1982) a peanut salesman who dressed in his tux to sell peanuts before Reds games for 50 years. Peanut Jim once said, “They expect me there. People know me from all over the country. It’s strange how a black guy selling a bag of peanuts can get that much notoriety.”

Mr Tarbell Tips His Hat is at 1109 Vine Street (just south of Over the Rhine)

Golden Muse

The Golden Muse is not a real life Cincinnati, but actually a figurine from an 18th century clock at the local Taft Museum. In this mural, the muse is linked to the notes of famed American composer Aaron Copeland, who wrote Fanfare for the Common Man for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which debuted this well-known composition at Music Hall in 1942.

The Golden Muse is at 28 West 13th Street (Downtown in Over The Rhine)

Do you have a favorite? To see other murals in my series, click here.

On Two Bookends

Ezzard Charles was the heavyweight boxing champion 1946-1951 as he won the crown from Joe Louis then lost it to Jersey Joe Walcot. He came to Cincinnati at age 9, and for his accomplishment, the city named a street in his honor. Interesting, Ezzard Charles Drive is only a mile long, but connects two of Cincinnati’s treasures that are in this image … and this post is about the bookends of Ezzard Charles Drive. The most prominent structures in the image above.

At one end – Music Hall. Built in 1878, Music Hall is one of the grand music venues in the country and home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and other professional performing organizations. Actually three buildings in one, Cincinnati’s German heritage and their love for music brought this grand building into reality. Being that my wife and I have engaged in ballroom dancing in recent years, we love Music Hall’s ballroom. Nonetheless, Music Hall is a local treasure with a rich history. To learn more about this gem, click here or scroll through these Google images.

At the other end- Union Terminal. From its Grand Rotunda, art deco design throughout, and beautiful, colorful murals, Union Terminal served as Cincinnati’s railroad station from 1933 to 1972. In 1977 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark, while in 2007, the American Institute of Architects noted the building to be #44 on their list of favorite American architecture.

Although the wrecking ball loomed large at one time, today’s Union Terminal is the home to the Cincinnati Museum Center, which houses the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati Historical Society, the Robert D. Linder OMNIMAX Theater, and site for temporary exhibits. My favorite display is Cincinnati in Motion: a room-size model of the city. (Pictured, and here’s a short tour through it on a model train). I adore the building and its offerings, so to learn more about this treasure click here or scroll through these Google images.

Music Hall and Union Terminal are Cincinnati treasures from two different eras. Yet, each serves as a bookend on a street named for a Cincinnatian that many people may not know.