Several years ago, nine schools in Cincinnati, Ohio were auctioned to the highest and most qualified bidder. The McKinley School, along Eastern Avenue in the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood, was one of those selected properties, with the auctions being managed by Higgenbotham Auctioneers of Florida.
The McKinley School was constructed in 1876 as a three-and-a-half story structure facing Tennyson Street in the Italianate/Jacobethan style, with red brick, vertical accentuation, pilasters, tall 12/12 windows and a gable roof. A two-story addition was constructed in 1919 fronting Eastern, contrasting with the original building. The new wing featured brown brick, terra cotta trim, and various motifs and decorative elements. The kindergarden doorway featured an art glass transom, and small Florentine glass windows flank the doorway. Total square footage equaled 44,326, and the combined buildings featured 21 classrooms, a cafeteria, three offices, a child care room and gymnasium.
In December 2005, the McKinley School was closed.
In March 2009, the Cincinnati Board of Education selected McKinley among nine other schools that were authorized for sale. An auction was held on June 8, and a developer selected the school for redevelopment although the school district rejected their bid for the school. In July, the Irish Heritage Center, founded by Maureen Kennedy and her husband, Kent Covey of Hyde Park, submitted a sealed bid that was accepted. The bid was $180,000, and about $20,000 in improvements was spent on the physical structure.
The mission of the Irish Heritage Foundation was to “founded to promote the Irish Culture through the study of customs, dance, education, film, genealogy, history, language, lectures, literature, music, mythology, poetry, social interaction, song, sport, theater and the visual arts.” Events are held weekly.