Thursday, April 15, 2010

Latest Betts House exhibit focuses on local apartment development

The evolution of multi-family housing in Cincinnati is explored in the exhibit "From Tenements to Townhouses: Multi-Family Housing in Cincinnati", opening with a Friday reception at the Betts House, 416 Clark Street, from 5 P.M. to 8 P.M.

Curated by Margo Warminski, preservation director of the Cincinnati Preservation Administration, examines the physical structures and social constructs of the area's multi-family buildings, from the City's first tentative steps in apartment living in the late 1800s all the way through the 20th century.

Many architecturally distinctive multi-family buildings – some associated with architects of national reputation – can be found throughout the City and its suburbs.

Warminski's exhibit takes a look at the tenements, "over-the-store" flats, and elegant apartment buildings found in Clifton, Downtown, East Price Hill, Hyde Park, Mount Adams, Mount Auburn, North Avondale, Over-the-Rhine, South Fairmount, Walnut Hills, Covington, Glendale, Greenhills, Mariemont, and Norwood.

"Cincinnati's multi-family buildings were home to people from all walks of life," Warminski says. "Some were experiments in enlightened city planning and progressive responses to social problems and hard times. Many are architectural gems, now being rediscovered by a new generation of city dwellers."

These historic buildings, built within dense neighborhoods served by transit, are now looked at by planners as a template for repopulating urban centers and providing a more sustainable, less auto-centric way of life.

"During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cincinnati had the best electrified transit system of any city its size," Warminski says. "An intricate network of streetcars, cable railways and inclines carried people up and down the steep hills. Savvy developers took advantage of this great transit network to build multi-family housing – first rowhouses, then classic apartment buildings – along the rail lines so tenants could commute easily to work."

She compares that work to the work of today's developer.

"Many of today's back-to-the-city developments are the work of individual developers – not philanthropists or governmental entities – responding to housing demand and a revived interest in city living," Warminski says. "Some are also nudging that demand, pushing the envelope by, for example, pushing deeper into OTR to renovate buildings. To see real change, however, we'll need better planning, better transit and higher gas prices."

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Betts House will present lectures on Over-the-Rhine tenements and rowhouses and a walking tour of historic multi-family housing in Walnut Hills. The lectures will be held May 13 and June 3 and are co-presented by the host Mercantile Library and the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati (AFC); the walking tour will be held May 22 and is co-presented by AFC.

"From Tenements to Townhouses" will be on view from April 17 through September 30.

The Betts House is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. It will also be open from 12:30 P.M. to 5 P.M. on April 17; May 8 and 22; June 5 and 19; July 10 and 24; August 14 and 28; and September 11 and 25.

Warminski curated the 2006 Betts House exhibit "Endangered Cincinnati: Can These Buildings Be Saved", which won an Education Award from the Ohio Historical Society.

Previous reading on BC:
'Holidays at the Betts House' runs through January 6 (12/2/09)
Betts House receives state award for 'Great Cincinnati Families' exhibit (11/16/09)
Historic residence exhibit at Christ Church Cathedral (2/12/09)
Historic photo exhibit to hold opening reception at Betts House (1/22/09)
Langsam to present lecture series (6/11/08)


Recent Comments