Cover Story - Weekend
Where Freedom Rings

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati has a rich African-American history. Situated on the border between slavery and freedom, it was a center of activity for the Underground Railroad. African-Americans fought here for equal rights, built schools, founded churches and made their mark in history. It is a history that is still being written. Here are some of the sites from Cincinnati's African-American heritage.

The Riverfront

  • Public Landing, foot of Broadway at the Ohio River. Called the Levee, it was where African-American steamboat workers gathered and many slaves started their escapes from Southern masters.


    The Allen Temple AME
    Church was at 536
    Broadway, downtown,
    from 1870 to 1979.

  • Sixth and Broadway. The site of many early African-American shops and inns and the first location of Allen Temple AME Church in 1824 and Scholey's Green, a private African-American school that opened in 1826. Blacks defended themselves against white mobs there in 1836 and 1841, and it was the Civil War assembly point for the Black Brigade, which built defensive fortifications in Northern Kentucky during the siege of Cincinnati, 1862.

  • 536 Broadway. Site of Allen Temple AME Church from 1870 to 1979.

  • 400 Pike St. Site of Achilles Pugh's shop that printed James G. Birney's abolitionist newspaper, The Philanthropist, until the shop was destroyed by anti-abolitionists in 1836.

  • 316 Pike St. Belmont, the home of Nicholas Longworth, now the Taft Museum, has the most important murals painted in 1843 by Robert Scott Duncanson, the first internationally recognized African-American painter.

  • Main and Third streets. The northeast corner was the site of the law office of attorney Salmon P. Chase, a leading abolitionist called ''the court of last resort'' for runaway slaves. Later, he became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Eighth and Broadway. The northwest corner was occupied by Boyd Manufacturing Co., where African-American businessman Henry F. Boyd, operated his factory and showroom in the 1850s.

  • Sixth and Culvert streets at Deer Creek, now Eggleston Avenue, the site of first African-American church, 1809, William Allen, pastor.

  • Fifth and Main streets. Site of barracks for African-American soldiers during the Civil War.

  • 412 McAlister St. Site of The Union, a newspaper devoted to civil rights issues, from 1907 to 1952. Wendell Dabney was editor.

  • 28 W. Fourth St. Site of the daguerreotype studio of James Presley Ball, an important early photographer.

  • Sixth and Elm streets. The northwest corner was the ''Dispatcher's Office'' of the Underground Railroad and the store and home of Levi Coffin.

  • Sixth and Main streets. Site of The Disenfranchised American, edited by Alphonso Sumner, the first Cincinnati African-American newspaper started in 1844.

  • 405 W. Seventh St. Site of Union Baptist Church, the second oldest African-American congregation in Cincinnati established in 1831. An early pastor was author George Washington Williams, who became Ohio's first African-American legislator and ambassador to Haiti in 1885.

    West End

  • 1030 Cutter St. Site of Jennie D. Porter Middle School, named for Jennie Davis Porter, 1875-1936, educator, founder and first principal of Harriet Beecher Stowe School. She was the first African-American woman to be a school principal in Cincinnati and receive a doctorate in education at the University of Cincinnati.

  • 1035 Mound St. Site of George W. Hayes Elementary School, named for the former slave who became a U.S. senator.

  • 636 W. Seventh St. Former Harriet Beecher Stowe School, was built at this site in 1923 as a junior high to replace old Hughes.

  • 929 Ezzard Charles Drive (formerly Lincoln Park Drive). The 1940s home of Ezzard Charles, world heavyweight boxing champion, 1949-51.

  • 823 W. Ninth St. Site of Cosmopolitan School of Music, operated by Artie Matthews, 1888-1958, author of the first published blues, Baby Seals Blues and of Weary Blues.

  • 1556 John St. Revelation Baptist Church moved to this site in 1931 after being founded in 1921 at another location. The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, civil rights activist and secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was pastor in 1960-68.

  • Court Street between John and Mound streets. Site of Gaines High School, the first African-American public school, opened in 1866.

  • Sixth Street at Mill Creek. Site of Elijah Kite's house, where fugitive slave Margaret Garner killed her child rather than send her back into slavery Jan. 28, 1856.

  • Sixth and Mound streets. Site of the Sterling Hotel, home of the Cotton Club, the premiere African-American night club from the 1930s to the 1950s.


  • 7181 Reading Road. Site of Allen Temple AME Church, oldest surviving African-American Church in Cincinnati.


  • 513 Hickory St. Home of composer Artie Matthews.

    Orphan Asylum
    The Colored Orphan Asylum moved to Van Buren Street in Avondale in 1896.

  • 3132 Van Buren St. Site of Colored Orphan Asylum, founded in 1844, moved to this location in 1896.

    College Hill

  • 1210 Cedar St. Home of Jessie DeWitt Locker, 1891-1955, who served six terms on Cincinnati City Council. He was appointed ambassador to Liberia in 1953.

    Walnut Hills

    Lane Theological Seminary
    Lane Theological Seminary, in Walnut Hills, was operated by abolitionists Lyman Beecher and Henry Ward Beecher.

  • 2800 block, east side of Gilbert Ave. Site of Lane Theological Seminary, operated by Lyman Beecher and Henry Ward Beecher, and a center for the abolitionist movement in the 1850s.

  • 2950 Gilbert Ave. Site of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House Museum. The author lived here 1832-50, gathering material for Uncle Tom's Cabin and helping runaway slaves.

  • 1047 Chapel St. Site of The Manse, Cincinnati's most prominent African-American hotel in the mid-20th century.

  • 3131 Wehrman Ave. Home of future Underground Railroad leader Levi Coffin.

  • 825 Beecher St. Home of editor and composer Wendell Phillips Dabney.


  • 13th and Sycamore streets. Site of early home of abolitionist leader Levi Coffin called Otis Station. Now the site of School for Creative and Performing Arts.

    Price Hill

  • Union Baptist Cemetery, 4933 Cleves Warsaw Pike. The oldest African-American cemetery in Cincinnati.


  • Duck Creek Road near Strathmore Drive. 1844 African-American cemetery where many black leaders are buried.


  • Riverside Drive. Statue of Africa-born James Bradley, who purchased his freedom and became one of the first African-American students at Lane Theological Seminary and the only African-American to participate in the Lane Seminary debates.

  • 425-428 Madison Ave. Site of Price Lumber Co., Covington's first African-American-owned company.

  • 10th and Prospect streets, southwest corner. Home of Jacob Price, first black businessman and minister of the first African-American church in Northern Kentucky.

  • 504 Second St. Site of Carneal House, a jumping-off point for slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad. A tunnel under the house leads to the Licking River.

  • 25 E. Seventh St. Site of the first African-American public school in Covington.


  • Evergreen Cemetery, Civil War fortification. African-American soldiers from Cincinnati built forts of this kind during the 1862 siege of Cincinnati.

    Southwestern Ohio

  • Wilberforce, Ohio. Home of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center; Wilberforce University, founded in 1858 and the nation's oldest African-American college, and Central State University, founded in 1887, Ohio's only publicly supported historically

  • Ripley, Ohio. An important stop on the Under-ground Railroad, Ripley has Liberty Hill, the home of Underground Railroad leader the Rev. John Rankin and the home of John P. Parker, a former slave who helped hundreds of slaves reach freedom and wrote the book His Promised Land.

  • Dayton, Ohio. 219 P.L. Dunbar St., the home of poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, 1872-1906, and now operated by the Ohio Historical Society.
  • IF YOU GO:
  • National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, 1350 Brush Row Road, Wilberforce, Ohio.

    Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

    Current exhibition: The African-American Christmas Collection, folk art from the collection of Regenia Perry. Permanent exhibition, From Victory to Freedom, African-American Life, 1945-1965.

    Admission: $3.50, $1.50 students and children.

    Information: 1-513-376-4944.

  • Taft Museum, 316 Pike St., downtown, featuring the murals of Robert Scott Duncanson.

    Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

    Admission: $4, $2 seniors and students, free for children 18 and under. Free to all Wednesdays.

    Information: 241-0343.

  • Paul Laurence Dunbar House: 219 N. Dunbar St., Dayton, Ohio, off Third Street.

    Tours: By appointment, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

    Admission: $2.50, $2.50 children 6-12, $1 children 5 and under free.

    Programs: 3 p.m. Sunday, Woodland Cemetery. Visit Paul Laurence Dunbar grave site. Reception following. 3 p.m. Feb. 23, Edith Washington, granddaughter of Booker T. Washington, speaks at the Dunbar House.

    Information: 1-937-224-7061.

  • Arts Consortium African-American Museum, Museum Center at Union Terminal.

    Permanent exhibit: Been Round Natty Town, photos of African-American life in Cincinnati.

    Hours: 1-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

    Admission: Free. Parking, $3.

    Information: 345-3744.