Legendary 1960s Jazz Club in East Walnut Hills
Much of East Walnut Hills, including the intersection of Hackberry St. and William Howard Taft Rd., was originally the village of Woodburn. This German Catholic community grew around St. Francis DeSales Church, which was originally built (dedicated in 1849) on the southwest corner of Hackberry and Taft, before the church moved to its current location at Woodburn Ave. and Madison Rd.
During the 1860s, the village of Woodburn was annexed into the City of Cincinnati and continued to grow north of the church on Hackberry St. and Cleinview St. This building was constructed on the northeast corner of Hackberry and Taft in 1880. Its Italianate style, very popular at the time, includes cornices over the doors and windows and a flat roof with projecting eaves supported by corbels.
In the 1960s, at the height of the jazz scene in Cincinnati, this building housed Herbie’s Lounge (referred to as the “The Home of Jazz”). Herb Engle presented live jazz Monday through Saturday. An ad from September 1965 called Herbie’s “The hippest little room on the hill.” The club continued showcasing jazz into the 1970s under a new name, Roberts Neoteric Lounge.
As interest in the genre waned, many jazz clubs closed. By the 1980s, few local venues featured live jazz. The Greenwich on Gilbert Ave. (formally known as the “Greenwich Tavern”) in Walnut Hills was a thriving part of the jazz scene in the 1960s and continues to host jazz performers now. Nearby Caffè Vivace also continues the tradition.
Today this building, now known as the Herbie, leads a quieter and less musical life as rehabbed residential condos.