Monday, September 22, 2008


Part VI: German Inscriptions of Over the Rhine

‘Bau’ is the German word for building. So in honor of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (September 20 – 21), Queen City Survey is looking at some Germanic influences on Cincinnati, its history, and its built environment in a week-long series we are calling Okto‘BAU’fest!

A walk around Over the Rhine reveals a lot of German inscriptions. You just have to look for them.
Nast Trinity Church (1880)
1310 Race Street
Architect: Samuel Hannaford

Inscription over the front door:
Erste Deutsche Bischofl Meth. Kirche, Gegrundet 1835
First German Bishopric Methodist Church, Founded 1835
Inscription over side doors:
Erste Bauerrichtet 1842 & Neu Erbaut 1880
First Built 1842 & Rebuilt 1880

German Mutual Insurance Company of Cincinnati (1870)
SWC Walnut and 13th Streets
Deutsche Gegenseitige Versicherungs-Gesellschaft von Cincinnati
German Mutual Insurance Company of Cincinnati

Old St. Mary’s Church (1842)
123 13th Street
Architect: Franz Ignatz Erd
Inscription, first two lines:
St. Marien-Kirche
Erbaut von der deutschen Katholiken von Cincinnati
St. Mary's Church
Erected by the German Catholics of Cincinnati
The next three lines all say the same thing but in German, Latin, and finally English.

Old St. Paul’s Church (1849)
SEC Spring and 12th Streets
Architect: Seneca Palmer
The first two lines are Latin then two lines of German . . .

Die Gnade unfers Herrn Jesu Christi sei mit euch!
Meine Liebe ist mit euch Allen in Christi Jesu, Amen
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
My Love is with all in Christ Jesus, Amen

Then the Latin phrase meaning the Year of Our Lord, 1849. And finally, more German . . .

Restauriert Nach den Brande vom 19, August 1899
Restored after the fire of August 19th, 1899

John Becker Wine Garden (c. 1874)
1816 Vine Street
Really just the German surname but it is the best German surname ever! John Becker operated his Wine Garden from 1874 to 1903.

Kolping Society House (1870)
1523 Republic Street
Architect: Sigmund Kutznitzky
Gott Segne das Ehrbare Handwerk
God Blesses Respectable Handwork
The inscription was added after the Kolping Society purchased the property in 1930.

St. Paul’s Evangelical Church (1850)
SWC Race and 15th Streets
Deutsche Evangelische
St. Paulus Kirche
Wahrheit, Tugend, Freiheit
German Evangelical
St. Paul's Church
Truth, Virtue, Freedom

Frederick Hecker Statue (1883)
Washington Park
Sculpter: Leopold Fettweis
Mit Wort und That fuer Volksfreiheit im alten und neuen Vaterlande
With Word and Deed for the Freedom of the People in the Old and New Fatherlands
A number of churches proudly display their original German names.
St. John’s Unitarian Church (1867)
"Deutsche Protestantische St Johannes Kirche"
NWC Elm and 12th Streets
Architect: Sigmund Kutznitzky

German Baptist Church (1866)
"Baptisten Kirche"
SEC Walnut and Corwine Streets
Salem Church of Christ (1867)
"Deutsche Evangelisch Reformirte Salem's Kirche"
NWC Sycamore and Orchard Streets
German Evangelical Zions Church (1853)
"Deutsche Evangelische Zions Kirche"
NEC 15th and Republic Streets
(Republic Street was Bremen Street prior to 1919 and is also still visible on the Church.)
Editor’s Note: I’ve been preparing this post for a few weeks so all my photos are from before the wind storm of September 14, 2008, and the subsequent damage to a number of the buildings shown.

Dr. Robert DiDonato, Chair of the Miami University Department of German, Russian, and East Asian Languages.
Wimberg, Robert J. Cincinnati: Over the Rhine. Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati, OH. 1987
University of Cincinnati, Department of German Studies Website
Next – Part VII: Oktoberfest Zinzinnati


Kelly said...

I love these posts! It's amazing how much history is right in front of our eyes in this city - thanks for pointing some of it out.

John said...

i thought about writing an article for a class on the presence of german language on cini buildings... if i had seen this then it would have been VERY useful. kudos.

5chw4r7z said...

Did you notice last Saturday the condition of the steeple on St. Paul’s?

VisuaLingual said...

Wow, I wish I knew some German. Thanks so much for posting all these signs and their translations!

Dan said...

5CHW4R7Z- Yeah, I saw that. I added that note on the post that I had been working on this post long before the wind storm so a couple of teh buildings I posted not have damage. Sad we are going to lose more of the steeple.

alberta said...

I have a beer stein from Germany with the inscription
"gott segne das ehrbare Handwerk".
Google brought me here. thank you for the translation.
alberta handwerk.

urban_drift said...

Hi Dan,
I was wondering if you'd be willing to share a higher-resolution version of the photo of st. Paul's? I work at an architecture firm in OTR and we are working on the stabilization of the building. It'd be great to get a closer view of what the tower used to look like.
thanks so much