Telling the Kennedy Heights Story
By Ernie Barbeau
Past President, Kennedy Heights Community Council

Kennedy Heights’ recent commemoration of its annexation to the City of Cincinnati in 1914 led to many events and outcomes. One of those outcomes was the development of a 49-page booklet, The Kennedy Heights Experiment: From Hilltop Suburb to Multi-Racial Community 1882–2014. Dr. Charles F. (“Fritz”) Casey-Leininger and seven students and produced this fabulous booklet during the 2014 Spring semester of the Public History Practicum in the University of Cincinnati Department of History.

Dr. Leininger invited me to serve as an advisor to the students. It was a marvelous experience which led me to initiate additional research. Over the past eighteen months I visited several local libraries and have accessed several online sources. My research is also propelled by a special neighbor, the late Jim Cebula, and a deep affection for our neighborhood’s unique and precious qualities. Jim was a long-time resident of Davenant Avenue, and a Professor of History at UC’s Raymond Walter campus. I came to know Jim when he was a member of the Community Council’s Comprehensive Community Plan Committee, at which time I was Chair. A few years later, Jim

was the author of two excellent articles about our neighborhood: “Creating a Multi-Racial Community in Post-World War II Cincinnati: The Kennedy Heights Experiment” (Ohio Valley History, Fall 2007); and “Kennedy Heights: A Fragmented Hilltop Suburb” (Cincinnati Historical Society Bulletin, Summer 1976). As public historians, Jim and Fritz serve as my role models.

My research has been focused on the 1862–1914 period—when we were a community of Columbia Township and later the Village of Kennedy Heights. Based on Cincinnati Enquirer articles and items, annual editions of the Williams’ Cincinnati Directory, and other library sources, I have drafted a major document about this period and a subset of special documents about the Lewis Kennedy family (26 pages), Yononte Inn (19 pages), Christ Episcopal Mission (5 pages), and information on 275 Village residents (50 pages).

I have kept the Community Council’s immediate past president, Michelle Dillingham, informed about my research and have started conversations with our current president, Dan Kasprowicz. This spring I will have conversations with the

KHCC Board about the establishment of a mechanism that would increase our knowledge and awareness of our neighborhood’s past and ways to ‘broadcast’ the richness of both our past and future.

During 2015 I hope to write several articles for our newsletter and webpage on topics related to the Kennedy Heights’ history.

–Ernie Barbeau

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