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3 Acts in Over-the-Rhine II

  • Philippus United Church of Christ 106 West McMicken Avenue Cincinnati, OH, 45202 United States (map)

The second of a quarterly series. Three short lectures reveal histories of tenement experience and local heritage in Over-the-Rhine.




Michael Henson has lived and worked in Over-the-Rhine for many years, starting in the late 1960s. In the early ‘70s, he helped found the Urban Appalachian Council and served as coordinator for the Heritage Room, a cultural and educational center near Washington Park. Most recently he served as counselor for Paths to Recovery, a project of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services based at the Jimmy Heath House. He is author of four books of fiction and four of poetry. His Over- the-Rhine writings include Ransack, a novel, and A Small Room With Trouble on My Mind, a book of stories. Crow Call, his first poetry collection, was written in response to the killing of the Over-the-Rhine activist Buddy Gray. Henson’s most recent work, The Way the World Is: the Maggie Boylan Stories, won the 2014 Brighthorse Prize in Short Fiction. His lecture will explore the Appalachian presence in Over-the-Rhine, from the 1950s through the 1970s.


A native Cincinnatian, Rob Gioielli is an assistant professor of history at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College. He teaches American and environmental history, and his research explores the intersection between social and environmental history. His first book, Environmental Activism and the Urban Crisis: Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago, was published in 2014, and he is currently working on new projects concerning environmental philanthropy, global wildlife conservation, and animal history. A board member of the Over-the-Rhine Museum, he is committed in his scholarship, teaching and community work to creating communities and institutions that are both socially just and environmentally sustainable.


Rob’s talk -- Rethinking Porkopolis—asks us to consider what the pig means to Cincinnati. Some would say that is obvious, that Cincinnati was “Porkopolis,” and as the center of the antebellum pork-packing industry, pigs helped make Cincinnati the “Queen City of the West.” But many Cincinnatians have become disconnected from the reality of that history, and the pig has become nothing more than a fun symbol for public art projects and sports events. This talk will explore how the story of the pig helps us understand the place of Cincinnati, and the meat packers of Over-the-Rhine specifically, as part of a global network of agricultural and industrial production that ran from the farms of southwest Ohio, to the plantations of Mississippi, to the cotton mills of Liverpool.


Dann Woellert is author of the Cincinnati Turner Societies: The Cradle of an American Movement, and can trace his family’s roots to antebellum Over-the-Rhine. A passionate historian, he is involved with several local historical societies along with the German American Citizens League. He has created several of the Architreks walking tours put on by the Cincinnati Preservation Association. As a foodie, he also blogs about regional food origins at “Dann Woellert the Food Etymologist” on Wordpress.


Were you a lover of gym class and rocked the kickball field as a kid? Well, then you have the Cincinnati Turners to thank for that. Dann’s talk, entitled “Born in OTR – The American Turner Movement,” explores the German immigrants who founded the Turnverein Gymnastics clubs in Over-the-Rhine, the first one in 1848. It was much more than a gym club and became a social movement that spread like wildfire across the nation through Germanic immigrant communities. By 1894 there were over 300 Turner clubs in the United States with over 40,000 members. The Central Turnhall on Walnut Street became the hub of political and social life for the German immigrant community in Over-the-Rhine. With connections to Reds ownership, local breweries, businesses, schools, arts, labor and open mindedness, they tell a brilliant story of life in Over-the-Rhine, our city and the nation.


Following the presentations there will be a reception with refreshments and light bites.




The event is open to the public. Suggested $5 donation at the door.