September 29, 2011

Queen City Pub Crawl: Sedamsville

I'm guessing 99 percent of Cincinnatians have no idea where Sedamsville (Suh-DAMS-ville) is located. I had never even heard of the neighborhood until I began researching this project. Those of you familiar with the tiny town (under .5 square miles and less than 700 residents) owe its fame to Peter Edward Rose. The hit king played baseball on the fields at the edge of Sedamsville as a child.

One thing was certain as I drove the streets of Sedamsville: There were no bars. Heck, there were barely any signs of life. But as I explored, I was struck by the visuals. This was a town with history. Potential oozed from its cracked sidewalks and abandoned buildings. It was like seeing the ugly ducking before she transformed into a beautiful swan. There were times when I felt sick to my stomach as I stood and imagined a different Sedamsvillea vibrant neighborhood filled with life. Where had all the people gone? And when had the town's heart stopped beating?

What happened to Sedamsville? A river town just west of downtown Cincinnati should be bustling with activity. Young professionals should be buying up property and transforming this historic district into the Queen City's next hot spot.

From what I can gather, there has been a clash of interests over the past three decades. Local residents want Sedamsville to remain untouched. Developers prefer to demolish crumbling houses (and churches) in the name of progress. The stalemate has created a stale community. Even the courts have gotten involved as residents have filed desperate pleas to declare Sedamsville a historic district to stop the bulldozers. For now, stagnation seems to be winning.

Eventually, I parked and began a walking tour of Sedamsville. Almost immediately, I ran into a local who eagerly gave me an overview of his neighborhood. He pointed out the homes of two locals who had been living in Sedamsville for over seventy years. He also offered me a house for $5,000. I got the feeling someone could literally buy the entire town for the price of a home in Clifton.

That's probably why I received the strangest looks from locals. Perhaps they thought I was another developer snooping around town hoping to demolish their homes and stomp on their traditions.

Hometown pride? Stubbornness? Stupidity? Loyalty? Despair? Hope? Your guess is as good as mine. Sedamsville is a fascinating neighborhood on life support. Will it be a ghost town in thirty years when the current residents die off? Will a younger generation transform the community into a thriving neighborhood? Either is possible. Both are equally encouraging and saddening.


random blogger said...

so sad. great potential. you know what Bob Knight said about potential?

bshawise said...

i propose a new rule. you should have a cooler in your trunk with a few suds on ice for future walking tours.

JBoogieTagliabue said...

I actually know where this is. When I used to go to Delhi a lot, I would turn off the main road (Fairbanks, I think?) and drive through Sedamsville. I don't know why. I was just always so fascinated by it. Also, a few years ago they were gutting one of those old houses and found a baseball bat that belonged to The Babe or was signed by him or something that was work like $100k. Randomness. And yeah, you need a cooler. That was the worst bar story ever.

Anonymous said...

You should've been there before 1976. It was a great place to be brought up.

If you did your research, you would find out this was a baseball town. Zimmer, Brinkman, Zeiser, Grote to name a few. You may find a few of those names familiar.

What happen to Sedamsville? The long time residents either moved away or died. Riff-Raff took their place.

Designer Rant said...

I grew up in Sedamsville. As a young boy, there was nothing better than Baseball In 1976 the Reds (and Pete Rose) were killing it we were in the world series and I was playing on Petes home field. I liken my childhood to the movie the sandlot. We were poor but didn't realize it as children. I had to check my sisters catchers mitt out in the morning and have it back oiled by 6pm. I played every position on the field with it!
The neighborhood was thriving then There were bars, restaurants, penny candy stores, community centers I was even an Alter boy at the church in the photos. Its kinda neat you have a photo of my old house on Illinois Ave. The doors to our houses were never locked and there was no crime the residents were very involved with the community It hurts my heart and my eyes to see the place in such a state. I lived some of the best years of my life there. My childhood home will live forever in my memory. Its truly a shame as we get older these memories will be lost. I tell my children of the adventures we had in that small town the pool ,the park, the seems they cant relate with the slow paced times of my youth...Man they are missing out!

Anonymous said...

Between some whose intentions were personal and greedy and others who didn't realize that parents would move out of the neighborhood to send their kids to better schools, you can totally understand why the neighborhood has become what it is today. It saddens my heart to see the shell it has become and, of course, no one will be blamed but the home owners.