Walking Tour of Blue Ash

The information on this page is from walking tours done in previous years.  We make this available to any who are interested in the homes and businesses frequently passed as we travel our busy ways on Cooper Road and side streets.

The tour starts at the Blue Ash Recreation Center on Cooper Road and heads toward Railroad, then to Highland Avenue and Conklin Avenue.

The Blue Ash Recreation Center is situated on what was once a ten-acre farm owned by William West, Sr.  Across the street was the Senior farm and down the street was the Ralston farm, which later became an airport.

Cooper Road ran from the original settlement to Montgomery and was originally known as Denman Road, named after Nathaniel Denman, one of Blue Ash’s early settlers.  His log house was at the corner of Plainfield and Denman Roads.  Denman Road became Cooper Road in the 1800s.

Ridgeway Avenue and Cooper Road

Across the road was what may have been the first municipal airport in Ohio, originally called Grisard Field.  It was named after the late Lieutenant John J. Grisard, the only Cincinnati aviator killed in action during WWI.  He died in May, 1918.  It was originally an old army base.  Famed aviator Eddie Rickenbacker attended its dedication ceremony.  It was later developed by brothers Hugh and Parks Watson and became known as the Watson Airport.  This was the site, in 1922, of the first airmail delivery into the Cincinnati area; the delivery was from Chicago.  Later routes to Cleveland and Louisville were established.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the airport was the site of weekly air shows where spectators could see parachute jumps and purchase a five-minute airplane ride for $5.00.  A newspaper excerpt from December 29, 1930, stated that the Watson Airport “attracts thousands of motorists to Blue Ash every Sunday during the summer by its thrilling aerial entertainment.”  During WWII, the airport was a training center for new pilots.

The house at Ridgeway and Cooper Roads was called the Airport Inn, popular in the 1930s with its outdoor or beer garden and small concrete dance floor.

The Airport Inn supposedly had somewhat of a “honky-tonk” atmosphere, which was probably why it was so popular then and is forgotten now.  Even then Blue Ash had live entertainment with orchestras performing regularly on Saturday nights.  Could this have been the forerunner of the Blue Ash concert series?

4610 Miller Road

We believe this building was used as a concession stand, probably to serve the spectators who came for the shows at the airport.

4619 Cooper Road

This home was built in 1890.

 

Original Building and Loan, 4624 Cooper Road

The original Building and Loan was founded in 1907.  Edwin L. Strawser, president of the Blue Ash Building and Loan, joined the local loan company in 1915.  He would store the receipts from the day’s business in a cigar box that he took home at night.  This one-room building served as the bank until 1952 when they moved to the current location at 4811 Cooper Road.  It was open only one night a week.  In addition to the limited hours of operation, customers were required to have a good reason for withdrawing their money!  It has the honor of being the longest-running business in Blue Ash.

4615 Cooper Road

This home was built in 1880.

Conklin House, 4658 Cooper Road

Isaac Conklin arrived in Hamilton County in the early 1800s and moved to Blue Ash in 1845.  The Conklin home was built by Isaac Conklin circa 1845 and inherited by his son John when he passed away.  The original parcel totaled about 100 acres.  Charles, John’s son, owned the house and five acres in 1914.  John Conklin subdivided property north of Hunt to Cooper and from Conklin east to Railroad Avenue in a plat approve in 1890.    Part of this property was known as the Conklin Subdivision, including Conklin Avenue, on which he built two Queen Anne-style homes.  The multi-family home next door was also once the home to an early health foods store and had a dance floor upstairs.  The Pep Golden Dance Studio in downtown Cincinnati sent instructors to give lessons.

4680 Cooper Road

This building dates from pre-1940 and was originally a hardware store.

Railroad comes to Blue Ash, Cooper Road, and Railroad Avenue

The stagecoach was the first public transportation in the early 1850s.  It took 30 years to complete the railroad track from Cincinnati, through Blue Ash, to Lebanon.  Many of the laborers were Irish, and they boarded in farm houses that were along the tracks they were laying.  Trains carried both passengers and mail; sometimes mail bags were delivered or dropped as trains sped by.  Mail would be sorted as the train sped along.

The Interurban, streetcars that ran on electricity and connected cities, were introduced in the 1880s with tracks running on what is now Kenwood Road.  When the Interurban Railway and Terminal Company completed an “electric road” in 1903 that extended to Lebanon, railroad ridership fell so much that trains reduced their schedules.

Trains ran every day from Blue Ash to Cincinnati, at the rate of twenty-two per day in the 1920s.  Excursion trains hauled passengers to amusement parks, such as Highland Grove, which was north and east of the intersection of Kenwood and Pfeiffer Roads.  The Interurban was in its last days in 1921, and railroad passenger service ended in 1934, after 53 years.

The Ferris house

Frank Ferris, descendant of one of the area’s pioneer families and long-time community leader, lived in a house built by the Hosbrook family in the 1870s.  The house, no longer standing, was a beautiful Queen Anne.

The Radabaugh house

Next to the Ferris lot is a two-story brown house, known as the Radabaugh house, which originally sat across the street where CVS is now.

In its original location, the building served as a dry goods store, post office, and the home of the first telephone exchange in Blue Ash.  It was moved to its present location in 1928 to make room for the expanding Blue Ash School.  The Hosbrook family owned a service station at the corner of Cooper and Kenwood Roads.  The Hosbrook family currently owns the property.

The old Blue Ash School was lost to redevelopment of the downtown area in 1985.  There had been a school on that location since 1892.  The old school served not only the school children but as a community focal point, and church services were held there.  The only sidewalk in Blue Ash went around the school.

Weber’s Grocery Store

The Louis Weber family moved to Blue Ash in 1921 and opened Weber’s Grocery Store at the corner of Cooper Road and Railroad Avenue.

Mr. Weber added room for a post office to the rear of the grocery store adjacent to the train tracks on the south side of Cooper Road.  In addition, the first Blue Ash library was in Weber’s Grocery Store.  ON ONE SHELF!  Books came from the downtown library.  Alma Weber, daughter of the owner, earned five cents for each borrowed book.

The Post Office

The post office in Blue Ash was established in 1882.  Early mail was carried by horse, houseboat, and sailing ship.  John Conklin was named Postmaster in 1887.  The post office was in Conklin’s house, which was common in those days, then located at 9561 Conklin Avenue and built in 1888.  The person receiving mail paid the postage during the early days on the frontier.  In 1858, the post office was located in east Sycamore, just south of Blue Ash, with Ebenezer Ferris serving as Postmaster.  That station closed in 1884.  Door-to-door delivery arrived in Blue Ash in the 1950s.  The post office served as the social and business center for most small communities. General information was disseminated at the post office when residents came to pick up their mail.

9527 Highland Avenue

This house was built in 1880.

Blacksmith Shop, 9476 Highland Avenue

Roxie Snell’s blacksmith shop was once located at the corner of Cooper and Kenwood Roads and owned by John Vorhees.  Roxie Snell took over the business and moved it to the Highland Avenue location when Harlan Hosbrook opened his motor car business at the original site of the blacksmith shop.

Supe Hosbrook at the corner of Kenwood and Cooper Roads

Mr. Snell worked on cars, but he always preferred horses.  He developed a portable forge that could be used at customers’ homes.  He also worked on plows and wagons.

Lighthouse Baptist Church, 9501 Highland Avenue

The church was built in 1912 and was originally the Blue Ash Presbyterian Church.  The congregation was founded in 1908 and met in the Blue Ash School until this building was constructed.  According to the Miami Purchase Association, its architecture is known as Spanish Mission.  It is also a relatively rare type of architecture with only twelve examples remaining in Hamilton County.  The Mission Baptist Church has since made modifications to the building.

Conklin Avenue and Cooper Roads

The Sadie Garber farm ran along Conklin Road.  Miss Garber smoked a pipe and farmed her land.  Since it was the custom to wear a dress on Sunday and Sadie needed to do some plowing on one particular Sunday, she wore a dress over her coveralls.  She died in a house fire.

9522 Conklin Avenue

This home was built in 1890.

Pursley House, 9544 Conklin Avenue

 

Built in 1902, the carriage house at the rear of the house is said to have housed the early fire department.

Braid House, 9561 Conklin Avenue

Built in 1888, this was once the home of John Conklin, son of Isaac Conklin.  It was later owned by John Hilsinger, one of the founders of the Blue Ash Building and Loan.

 

The information given for the walking tour is a compilation of history found in History of Blue Ash, Ohio, 1791-1991 by Mary Lou Rose, the research and files of Beverly Mussari, past president of the Blue Ash Women’s Club and the Blue Ash Historical Society, Danny’s Hosbrook’s first-hand accounts, and others with knowledge of the early days in Blue Ash.  There were some differences in details, and we have collaborated to prepare the above narrative.  We welcome input, correction, or clarification.

 

 

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