History of the Neighborhood
Lower Price Hill has a rich history. Evans Price, an immigrant from Wales, was the first to settle the area in 1807, after fording and roughly bridging the Mill Creek. After building a log home in 1807, the enterprising Evans Price built both a saw mill and a brickyard at the end of what is now West 8th Street. When word got out that building materials were available, new settlers arrived. Mr. Price, flush with success, renamed his burgeoning town, “Prospect.”
By around the turn of the century, Prospect had a population of 10,000 residents, plus another 10,000 people who came into the neighborhood each day to work. Evans Price’s son, Reese, expanded his father’s work, clearing the woods at the top of the hill. Reese Price built his home at the corner of West 8th Street and Mt. Hope Road. By 1840, he was successfully encouraging wealthy families to build summer homes along the top of the hill.
Evans Price’s grandson, William Price, opened the 800-foot Price Hill Incline in 1876, to transport both passengers and cargo from the base of the hill (8th & State), to the top (now the Queen’s Tower). He also built at the top of the hill an amusement park, a restaurant, and a beer garden. The Prospect neighborhood, at the bottom of the hill, likewise boomed. There were large and small industries, stores, shops, schools, churches, sporting houses, and saloons. The names of a few of the saloons included First Chance, Next Chance, Last Chance, and Dew Drop Inn. That last bar survived until the 1990s.
It was not only bars that thrived in what was to become Lower Price Hill. Among the churches residents remember are St. Michael, founded in 1847 for German-speaking Catholics; Blessed Sacrament, founded in 1870 for Irish Catholics; and the Methodist Church on State, founded in 1910, which still operates as a neighborhood church.
Before World War II, the residents of the neighborhood that was by then called 8th & State were mostly German, many of them immigrants, plus an Irish minority. There was limited interaction among the two ethnic groups. After World War II, the next generation of German and Irish residents moved away, mostly to western suburbs. They were replaced in 8th & State by arrivals from Kentucky and Tennessee, the “Appalachians.” Beginning in the 1960s, there were a few African-American families in 8th & State. There were no problems of any kind. More African-American people moved into the neighborhood beginning in the late 1980s. In 1997, many Hispanic immigrant were brought into the area.
In the mid-1970s, the Cincinnati Public Schools announced it would close Oyler School. The Lower Price Hill Community Council, led by president Barbara Desborough of State Avenue, mounted a lengthy, vociferous campaign to save Oyler. The media, at Mrs. Desborough’s urging, began calling the neighborhood “Lower Price Hill.” Without going through the usual bureaucratic process, the new name was accepted. The dynamic Mrs. Desborough saved Oyler School.