Thursday, February 27, 2003

Violence comes to North End


Roots go deep where 3 slain

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - The neighborhood where three people were slain earlier this week could pass for any worn, older neighborhood.

Deep in history and heritage, it is called the North End and is filled with houses built at the turn of the last century, and a few small businesses that cater to local people.

Signs are prominent: "Neighborhood Watch Area."

Reminders of the city's industrial past are everywhere, including the former Mosler and Diebold safe company buildings, which now operate as smaller businesses, brick monoliths from another era.

At Allen's Market at Shuler and Irma avenues, owner Ed Allen wondered aloud Tuesday if the killings were the work of one person.

"It's a shame about the old man who was killed," he said. "He kept his house looking nice. Best one in the neighborhood. It's not a neighborhood that I'd expect to see this king of thing."

Nearby stands the historic Crawford House in Crawford Woods park, the Betsy Newton Arboretum and an ice-cream shop called The Big Dipper.

The area has a couple of neighborhood taverns, Rocko's Pub and Sindy's Pub, and a mixture of larger and smaller wooden homes.

The neighborhood is a page from local history.

Buchanan Elementary, a rambling brick school built in 1928, greets motorists with this sign: "Teacher of the Year teacher here. You rock Mrs. Hughes!" A sign in a classroom window proclaims: "We love America."

A patriotic theme echoes across the community, with American flags flying from many houses. On Howell Avenue, three houses in a row fly the Stars and Stripes.

Ed Allen has operated his market with its unfinished wooden floors for 40 years. He said roots go deep in the community.

"The building was built for a saloon in 1909, and later Kroger bought it," he said. "It has been a store ever since. We're known for our ham salad. Regulars come from as far as Middletown to buy it."

A Catholic school, St. Julie Billiart, operates on Shuler Avenue, near a firehouse built in 1910 that is known for its architecture.

Firefighter Richard Gadd said the neighborhood is a good one to work in because the people are friendly.

"The station itself is great to work in," he said. "We even have the old fire pole."

Capt. Troy Pugh said visitors come in just to see the brick building. "It has a lot of character," he said.

"Neighborhood kids stop by to ask us to show them our fire equipment. Of course, we do. There's a lot of heritage and history in these walls."

E-mail rmcnutt@enquirer.com




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