In this episode, the first of our Lost Voices of Cincinnati series*, we’re exploring the history of Evanston, the home of King Records, which was pivotal to the creation of Rock n’ Roll music. We not only discuss King, but also another important anchor in the neighborhood, St. Mark’s, that has also been left to deteriorate over time. We explain how the highway divided the neighborhood, and kicked off years of disinvestment. And we talk to the people who are fighting hard to preserve the neighborhood’s precious landmarks — and bring the community back together.
Part I: King Records [0:00–08:52]
Part II: Before the highway [09:45–17:12]
Part III: A neighborhood divided [17:13–28:22]
Part IV: Bridges to the future [28:23–33:02]
If you missed our prelude episode, then take a pause and check out that show first!
Our guests include Evanston neighborhood community council members, Mr. James Stallworth (president), Ms. Marye Ward, Ms. Beverley Lamb, and Ms. Veta Uddin as well as members of the King Legacy committee, Kent Butts and Elliott Ruther, and also historian Dr. M. Christine Anderson, and preservationist and AmeriCorps member, Carrie Rhodus.
P.S. Ms. Marye Ward has been part of The Mark, a group trying to purchase and preserve St. Mark’s. Consider donating to The Mark today!
Sponsors: The Lost Voices of Cincinnati series was made possible by a Truth & Reconciliation grant from ArtsWave. We need help for future projects so please so considering donating to our Fundly fundraising campaign!
St. Mark’s Church…
Built in 1916 by architect Henry J. Schlacks, at a cost of $150,00 (over $3.5 million today), St. Mark’s Church features a 130-foot tall bell tower that is visible from almost anywhere in the neighborhood, including Interstate 71, which was built through the neighborhood in 1972. This light-colored, painted brick ecclesiastical building, located at 3500 Montgomery Road, held services for the local Catholic parish until 2010 and now sits vacant. There is even a school building and cemetery on the adjacent street that used to be affiliated. Fortunately, the Evanston Community Council is dedicated to acquiring the St. Mark’s Church building and there is a group called The Mark that is working to raise funds to do so (click link to donate)!!!!!!
King Records, a Household Name in Music Across the Nation…
This former icehouse became the home of the King Records company the same year WWII ended. In 1944, Syd Nathan began recording, pressing, and distributing music to the world from this single location. It made legacy artists like Bootsy Collins, Phillip Paul, and Otis Williams household names and introduced artists like the Sisters of Righteous and Tokyo Happy Coats to a new audience. Between the inclusion of cross-genre music and their vertically integrated business model, King Records is historically significant for its contribution to shaping broad patterns of American music. Considering how contentious the time period was during its height, at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, King’s ability to diversity popular music speaks volumes to just how much they influenced culture and society nationwide. Learn more about what the King Records Legacy group is doing to save this building!
Check out this former Green Book site located at 3334 Montgomery Road. It was just recently demolished but luckily following Carrie Rhodus (featured in our episode) was able to survey it before it was turn down! In her survey, she noted that…this structure was constructed in 1915 in a vernacular style with Italianate detailing. It is in the C.M. Holloway’s Subdivision, created in1887 by Charles M. Holloway. Holloway was an avid business man in the region, largely in steamboats, real estate, banking, and a salt company…
This Green Book property had retained much of its integrity before it was torn down, although it appears that the store fronts have been altered. This property is significant as part of the five points area of Evanston, historically a commercial hub. The property was originally known as Dunlap Flats and featured a hardware store and jeweler in the first-floor storefronts. There were four apartments, all occupied by working class individuals aside from the owner of jewelry shop below. The building experienced a high rate of turnover, but in residents and storefronts, though it remained under the same ownership through 1946. It was demolished in 2021. Here’s a photo of what it looked like right after: