In 1882, Lewis Kennedy, namesake of the Kennedy Heights neighborhood, purchased a large tract of land between what are now Woodford Road and Davenant Avenue. He planned to develop a suburban resort for Cincinnati businessmen and their families, taking advantage of the newly built Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railroad running in the vicinity.
In 1885, Anthony J. Bullock, a prominent investor in the railroad and the Kennedy Loan and Building Association, purchased land just south of that area. He commissioned Cincinnati architect A.O. Elzner to design a fifty-room Queen Anne style resort hotel. Kennedy’s construction firm built the hotel overlooking valleys to the south and west. The hotel was named the Yononte Inn, after a legendary Native American maiden who had been married at the site. The inn opened in 1887.
The hotel management described the inn as “an oasis in the caloric desert of Cincinnati” with “continuous breezes” and encouraged city residents to “retreat from the city’s sweltering homes in the summer to a cool and health giving atmosphere.” Advertisements also promoted cozy drawing rooms, a spacious dining room, and convenient access to railroad transportation.
Social columns of The Catholic Telegraph and the American Israelite listed names of guests at the hotel. It was also said that members of the Vanderbilt family and titled foreigners stayed at the inn.
In its second decade, the Yononte Inn experienced a decline in business. After serving for a time as an exclusive dance hall, the hotel closed its doors in 1907. Two years later, the Kennedy Heights village council blocked a plan by the heirs of the Bullock estate to turn the building and grounds into a sanitarium. On December 10, 1909, the hotel erupted in flames and burned to the ground. Newspaper reports attributed the cause of the fire to a defective flue.
A pair of stone gates, one of them with a “Y” stone formation, remain at the intersection of Davenant and Kinoll Avenues to commemorate the resort.