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Cincinnati: It's coming down in downtown!

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It's always a shame when a structurally sound building is demolished for a surface lot. It's even more upsetting when it is in a central business district.

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A rather unassuming reinforced concrete structure, this six-story building was constructed in 1930 along the slopes of the Bloody Run valley. It was located only blocks from the Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern rail yards, and adjacent to other industrial structures in what was a densely populated valley lined with slaughterhouses.

I thought little of the building, which sat underutilized and vacant for years, until the wrecking ball smacked against the facade of bricks on an afternoon in October. Resolved to find out its history and to document what was left of the building, I climbed the lone staircase to document it late one night and then began, in earnest, a basic query at the Hamilton County Auditor's web-site.

I found more history in the ensuing day than I had ever expected.

The Ault & Wiborg Company, a manufacturer of printing inks and dry color dyes and pigments, was established in 1878 and soon became immensely successful, expanding into the global trade due to its innovative use of coal-tar dyes that produced brightly colored inks at a time when only black and white images were used in the printing houses. Its first location was a small building on New Street, but it soon required a newer and larger structure.

The ink business of the Ault & Wiborg Company was sold to the International Printing Ink Corporation, which later became known as the Interchemical Corporation. In 1969, the property was transferred to the Clopay Corporation. Clopay was established in Cincinnati in 1859 as the Seinsheimer Paper Company, which sold paper products and other sundries in the region. The acronym "Clopay" was later used in the early 20th century, formed by the contraction of the words cloth and paper. Clopay later went into the garage door manufacturing business and housed some of its operations in the building.

The property did not stay with Clopay for long, as the building was transferred to Frye Copysystems in 1973. It was then transferred to Henry Tollman III and Raymond B. Fine in 1983, and listed as an Ohio Superfund Site in August 11, 1997.

The last transfer occurred on February 14, 2007 when the 417 E. 7th Street, LLC was formed. It was under their direction that the decision was made to demolish, rather than rehabilitate the property. In doing so, we have lost yet another aspect of Cincinnati's unique history to the wrecking ball, all in the name of more parking.

Looking northeastward towards Interstate 71 and Gilbert Avenue. Note the massive surface parking lots. As if we needed more!

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Even more surface lots looking towards Interstate 71 and 471, and Mt. Adams.

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Proctor and Gamble's world headquarters

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The architecturally significant Times-Star Building.

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Downtown Cincinnati!

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You can find more on the history of this really unique structure, along with 26 photographs, at the Ault & Wiborg Company article. Enjoy!

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