The Early Years: 670-676 Race Street
Sanborn Insurance Maps from the late 1800s show 1818-1824 Race as four distinct buildings, each four stories tall. All three were stamped with “tenements,” indicating their use as apartments. 1818 Race was also listed as a saloon.
Sanborn Insurance Maps from the early 1900s (updated to the 1930s) show the same four structures, with minor changes: a new brick addition was added to the rear of 1824 Race and a cement-block sausage factory was tacked onto the rear of 1816 and 1818 Race.
The vast majority of Over-the-Rhine Italianate brick buildings were constructed in the 1870s and ‘80s on top of an earlier wave of wood-frame structures. City directories listed 1818-1824 Race as early as the 1860s, but most likely the brick structures we see today were erected in the mid-1870s. We know that around the turn of the 20th century, if not for many years before, Louis J. Hauck (1866-1942) of the Hauck Brewing Company owned all four structures.
Aside from the fact that they provided tenement apartments, earliest commercial uses of 1818-1824 Race include a coffee house at 1820 Race and a boots and shoes store at 1822 Race by the early 1860s. Within a few years, these spaces housed Jacob J. Hoffman & Company’s furniture store and by 1870, Frederick Fritz’ malt house.
In 1875, George Propheter—“manufacturer of hosiery, dealer in knitting yarns and agent for knitting machines,” sold knitting machines out of 1818 Race. In 1890, each storefront had a distinctive use: Anna Manegold’s saloon at 1818 Race; Anna Hoeferkamp’s butter and eggs store at 1820 Race and dry goods store at 1822 Race; and Anna Rothenhoefer’s German Kindergarten at 1824 Race.
The Turn of the 20th Century on Race Street
These woman-managed storefronts vanished by the mid-1890s. Thereafter, briefly, Joseph Klaus operated a saloon at 1818 Race, and then, through the early 1900s, 1818 (and later 1822) Race housed Albert C. Coffin’s wallpaper business. Prior to his time in Over-the-Rhine, Ohio-born Albert C. Coffin (1850-1926) was a farmer in Allen County, Ohio as a young man and later in Indiana with his wife Elizabeth (Rison) (1852-1922) and their children. He and his family moved to Cincinnati sometime in the late 1800s.
In the early 1900s, 1824 Race was used by Michael Goodling for his stove manufacturing business. Michael Goodling was born in 1867 in Ohio to Bavarian immigrants, Michael and Elizabeth. As an adolescent, Michael apprenticed with a blacksmith to make carriages, and picked up skills from his father—Civil War veteran Michael Sr. (1830-1910) was a brass molder and founder—Michael later worked as a tin roofer and then a stove manufacturer by the early 20th century. Married to Anna (Schehl) (1862-1936) in 1891, Michael and Anna never had any children.
Sadly, Michael died young—in 1907—and thereafter his stoves store at 1824 Race ended. Upon his death, he bequeathed everything he had to his wife.
In the early 1900s, Thomas Just operated his boots business from the storefront of 1820 Race (and by World War I, he had moved to 1818 Race). In these early-century years, Fred A. Croll had his daily market in 1822 Race.
Above the storefronts at 1818-1824, tenement apartments continued to provide housing—albeit tight housing—for numerous boarders and families. By 1910, John Breiner, a merchant tailor for men’s clothing, used 1818 Race for his operations. Kasper Witt ran a barbershop out of 1820 Race, and Thomas Just moved his boots business next door to 1822 Race. Barber Kasper Witt (1880-1933) established his “shaving time” business out of 1820 Race by the 1910s.
A smaller man in stature with grey eyes and brown hair, Kasper and his wife Mary were Germans born in Hungary, much like Thomas Just and John Breiner. They immigrated to the U.S. in the first years of the 20th century, neither of them knowing any English at their time of arrival in Cincinnati. But Kasper did well for himself. Despite the fact that there was a surplus of barbers at this time, Kasper accumulated enough capital that—when he and Mary left 1820 Race—he bought 1815 Race just across the street for his family and his business.
By World War I, Thomas Just’s boots shop had moved to 1818 Race, and Kasper was still cutting hair at 1820 Race. Yet there were two new faces. Frank Horvath—a Hungarian confectioner who came to the U.S. in 1899—utilized 1822 Race for his candy business, and John Koch started a grocery at 1824 Race.
During these years, 1818-1824 Race changed ownership. Manuel Gutman, a real estate broker, purchased 1816-1824 Race Street—“tenement properties,” as the Enquirer called them—in the summer of 1914 for $35,000. He purchased the set of buildings from Louis J. Hauck (1866-1942) of the Hauck Brewing Company who owned them “for quite a number of years,” the Enquirer went on to clarify. “This is the second sale of consequence in that section of Race street in the past six weeks and indicates that property there is coming into the market.”
Louis Hauck’s father John Hauck founded the John Hauck Brewing Company in Cincinnati in 1863. In the mid-1920s, 1818-1824 Race changed owners. In October of 1925, Clarence Stenger (1907-1965) purchased 1816-1824 Race from Manuel Gutman.
Over the next two decades, Clarence—who had already set up a meat store at Findlay Market—increasingly used these storefronts for his meats business distribution. In the mid-20s, 1818 Race housed a paint store—Henry Harmeyer & Co. Next door at 1820 Race, John L. Pobst ran his “wood and willow ware” business. One storefront beyond that, at 1822 Race, Robert F. Speaks’ wallpaper cleaning business could be found. Harry Cirkin, a furniture dealer, was in 1824 Race.
Beginning in the early 1920s, Robert F. Speaks (1878-1938) provided wallpaper and wallpaper cleaning services for the residents and businesses of Over-the-Rhine. Considering how much wallpaper plastered the walls of nearby buildings—and how bad coal smoke was, even into the 1920s and ‘30s—Robert’s business most likely did well. He was born in 1879 and for most of his life had nothing to do with wallpaper. In fact, well into his middle age, he instead worked as a day laborer and as a machinist, including at Coney Island around World War I.
By the Great Depression, John Pobst continued his “reed novelties” business in 1820 Race. In the 1930s, 1822 Race Street was used by the Findlay Market Association as its Findlay Market Hall. Elections for Association officers were held in this space.
World War II and Thereafter at 1818-1824 Race
During World War II, Stenger Food Products and other associated companies utilized 1816- 1824 Race Street. Clarence Stegner had purchased these buildings in 1925 and would own them until 1945. Throughout World War II and the postwar era—up to the recent past, in fact—1818-1824 Race Street continued to house various individuals—far fewer than they used to, as tenement-style living slowly faded in Over-the-Rhine, but nonetheless the buildings never sat vacant. In 1920, Clarence Stenger (1907-1965) established Stenger Meats at 102 W. Elder at Findlay Market.
By the late 1920s, Stegner Meats grew into Stegner Products Company. To compensate for the company’s growth, Clarence moved his business to 1816 Race Street. By this time, his mock turtle soup and chili con carne were becoming particularly famous. He soon grew that business into Stegner Food Distributing Company and moved over to encompass 1818-1824 Race. From there, Stegner’s products—some of them canned at that point—were put onto a fleet of delivery trucks to distribute to local restaurants. Aside from Stegner’s use of the buildings, the Concordia Lutheran Church held services inside 1822 Race in the ‘40s (they had used 1824 Race in the ‘20s).
In the ‘50s, Hobert C. Bailey (1906-1973) had a billiards pool room at 1818 Race. Hobert and his wife Verna (Caywood) (1910-1989) were from Fleming County, Kentucky where until World War II they had been farmers. At this time, there was also another store next door at 1820 Race—F & M Sales Co which sold medical equipment and other hardware—and Weber Equipment at 1824 Race.
In 1954, F & M made the local news when Cincinnati received accolades for having one of the lowest tuberculosis death rates for its population size. The city health commissioner specifically thanked F &M for contributing 12,000 bandages to the fight. Next door, Weber Equipment was a power tool company headed by Lee R. Weber (1886-1952).
In this early postwar era, 1816-1824 Race went through a quick succession of different owners, including John and Grace Wittmeyer, Maurice Stoller and Arthur and Tillie Moranz in the late ‘40s, and then Paul and Pola Flax who bought them in 1950.
In 1961, Thomas A. (1930-2011) and his brother Norbert Denhart (1926-2010) were the new owners. They managed the building for the rest of the 20th century. Beginning in the early 1960s, Free Pentecostal Church of God used the first floor of 1818 Race and Southland Baptist was at 1822 Race. C. J. Pirman Co., a bookbinding company, operated out of 1820 Race.
The Salvation Army also used 1820 and 1824 Race as a thrift shop. Good Housekeeping Shop, an appliance store and appliance repairs business, boasted of its deals from its location at 1824 Race. Individuals—usually less than half a dozen at this point in time—lived upstairs at 1818-1824 Race.
In the mid-60s, Apostle Church of God was at 1818 Race and would remain there through the early 1970s. Its neighbor at 1820 Race was Whole & Retail Produce. Southland Baptist Church continued to use 1822 Race and Greg’s Antiques operated out of 1824 Race. Antique chair rockers, trunks, milk bottles, desks, clocks—Greg’s had it all.
By the 1970s, G & T Fruit and Vegetable Co. was at 1820 Race. Alongside the Apostle Church of God, Babe’s Bargain House also used 1818 Race. From the mid-70s through the early ‘80s, Bob’s Meat Market took over at 1818 Race. Winn Watch Repair operated from 1820 Race and Walker Grocery from 1822 Race. In the summer of 1980, much to the delight of Over-the-Rhine residents, Self Service Laundry opened its doors at 1822 Race. The idea was spurred by residents’ organizing at 1534 Race. The result was a laundromat being installed at 1822 Race.
Until the early ‘90s, Bob’s Meat Market continued at 1818 Race, as did Winn Watch Repair at 1820 Race through the ‘80s. The early 1990s also witnessed A & K Mini Market and then Cornell’s Grocery at 1820 Race.
The New Decade
Unlike other buildings in Over-the-Rhine, 1818-1824 Race never lost tenants. These buildings consistently housed individuals in their upper floors through the late 1900s and into the early 2000s. Grocery stores and convenience shops came and went.
In 2000, for instance, Lewis Mini Mart was in 1820 Race and Safia Food Market in 1818 Race in the mid- to late 2000s. After a series of owners in the early 2000s, in 2015 the Corporation for Findlay Market with Model Group Construction renovated the buildings.
In the spring of 2017, utilizing all four storefronts, Meredith Trombly and Louis Snowden opened the Epicurean Mercantile Company (EMC), a specialty grocery store meant to compliment Findlay Market. The store also had a small restaurant, the Counter. EMC closed down in the spring of 2018.