The Dennison Hotel is located at 716-721 Main Street in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally constructed for the G. B. Schulte Sons’ Company, the building was later remodeled into the Dennison.
G. B. Schulte Sons’ Company
The G. B. Schulte Sons’ Company was an iron and steel fabricator, manufacturing springs, axles, carriage and wagon hardware, and hand tools for blacksmiths at their factory at 261 and 263 Main Street. In 1891, the company acquired land elsewhere on Main Street and demolished a two-story upholstery shop for the construction of their six-story factory designed by the Cincinnati-based architectural firm Samuel Hannaford & Sons.15
G. B. Schulte Sons’ remained in business until it closed in 1930.
The Globe Wernicks Service Company leased the first three floors from G. B. Schulte Sons’,20 with a term of ten years at a cost of $81,000. The company install new front facade and built a large mezzanine floor, and reused the first three floors to showcase office furnishings. The upper floors were renovated for the Main Hotel,21 operated by Stoller & Sander with a lease term of 15 years with a privilege of purchase for $275,000.22 It opened on June 20, 1931, with 100 rooms and 60 baths.23
By March 1932, Stoller & Sander had declared bankruptcy.21 On June 6, Robert Uricho, a former city councilman, purchased the furnishings of the hotel for $5,500.22 Uricho then announced that he had made arrangements with G. B. Schulte Sons’ to take over and operate the hotel.
The Dennison Hotel was founded at East Fifth and Main streets circa 1822. Later advertisements in the Cincinnati Enquirer boasted its location near the new post office and amenities such as incandescent light and all night service.7 The hotel may have been part of a larger company, with at least another location in Indianapolis, Indiana.8
A 1932 advertisement in the Cincinnati Enquirer boasted the Dennison Hotel’s 142 rooms was located at 448 Main Street and East Fifth Street.5
In early 1931, the city proposed to widen East Fifth Street between Main and Pike streets, which would involve the condemnation of numerous properties along the roadway.3 The city paid $229,000 in fair market value to the Don Cohen Realty Company, which owned the Dennison Hotel.4 An auction was held by the Effron Company on May 2 for the hotel’s furnishings 5 and the building was demolished on the week of May 15 by the Cleveland Wrecking Company.6
With assistance from Uricho, the Dennison Hotel reopened to the former G. B. Schulte Sons’ building in 1933 and rebranded itself as the New Dennison Hotel. The lower three floors continued to host Globe Wernicks Service Company’s office furnishings successor, Kelsall-Voorheis, until it held its final sale on May 19, 1966.24
In October 1966, then-owner David Jacobson announced that the Dennison Hotel’s facade would be remodeled.10 Jacobson hired architects Alvin Lipson and Robert W. Wallace to design a marble, glass, and stainless steel facade, and to remodel the interior for two first-floor 2,500 square-feet stores and a third-floor 4,500 square-feet office. The remodeling was never carried out.
In September 1967, the Dennison Hotel building was sold to Ralph C. Browne,9 who at the time operated seven downtown hotels: Bristol Hotel, Browne Hotel, Fort Washington Hotel, Fountain Square Hotel, Pettit Hotel, Princeton Hotel.11 Occupants in the building, other than the Dennison Hotel, included Alert Letter Service and B&B Surgical Supplies.9
Browne retired from the hotel business in 1983.11
The Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) entered into negotiations to purchase and redevelop the Dennison Hotel in April 2010.1 3CDC partnered with Walnut Hills-based The Model Group to rehabilitate the building into 63 affordable apartments for individuals with mental health and substance-abuse issues.13 The exterior would be restored to its original appearance while each residential unit would include a kitchen and bathroom 2 at a cost of $11 million.13
That September,13 The Model Group acquired the Dennison Hotel for $700,000 with a loan from 3CDC and began talks with the Talbert House to provide assistive services for residents of the renovated building,2 13 tentatively called Ironworks Apartments.12 The company sought a 4% tax credit, conventional loans, and state historic tax credits to fund the development, along with $3.3 million from the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. Tenants that lived in the Dennison were evicted in preparation for the renovations.
On July 24, 2013, the Dennison Hotel was sold by The Model Group to a subsidiary of 3CDC for $1.3 million after a financing deal to renovate the Dennison Hotel fell through.12 17 18 An affiliate of the Columbia Development Group acquired the building in August for $744,431 with the goal of demolishing the building.17 18
Columbia sought permission from the city’s Historic Conservation Board to demolish the Dennison Hotel in March 2016, citing the infeasibility of rehabilitating the building for other uses 14 and the “damaging effect” of supportive housing on their investments.19 Columbia began acquiring land around the Dennison Hotel in the 1960’s, razing multiple buildings totaling 1.3 acres for parking lots.15 The Dennison, however, was within the Cincinnati East Manufacturing and Warehouse District, a National Register of Historic Places designated area.14
Approval of demolition would require a certificate of appropriateness from the city, which is required before any building that’s a listed historic landmark or within a historic district is modified.17
Columbia proposed in its place a class A office building for a potential Fortune 500 company, although the rendering of the building was recycled from a proposal for the General Electric’s Global Operations Center.18 In the interim, Columbia requested a parking lot, although such uses are banned within the parking subdistrict the Dennison Hotel falls within.19
A four-hour Historic Conservation Board hearing on May 26 resulted in the meeting being adjourned.15 Only five of the board’s seven members attended the meeting, and the decision to postpone a decision was made after one board member said he would have to leave before both sides had enough time to complete oral arguments.16 The meeting was packed with the city’s historic preservation staff, several historic preservation groups including the Cincinnati Preservation Association and the Cincinnati Preservation Collective, and hundreds of residents all opposed to demolition.
During a three-hour Historic Conservation Board hearing on June 16, Paul Muller, of the Cincinnati Preservation Association, said that at least eight real estate developers have expressed interest in acquiring or rehabilitating the Dennison Hotel.15 Several, including City Center Properties, Urban Sites, OTR A.D.O.P.T. and JCore Redevelopment, signed letters that the Dennison Hotel could be economically renovated instead of torn down.
Columbia disputed the claim, stating that it would not list the property for sale as no one would be interested in acquiring the building and rehabilitating it.15
The hearing resulted in the rejection of the demolition application in a 3-2 decision.15 Additionally, the city’s historic conservation staff recommended the board deny the demolition request. In a statement, the board said Columbia did not demonstrate it would endure economic hardship from a full or partial reuse of the building, that Columbia did not consider whether it could obtain state or federal historic preservation tax credits to support any renovation project and that Columbia did not offer the property for sale to another entity who might be able to pursue rehabilitation of the building.15 16
Columbia vowed to appeal the decision to the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.15
The Board of Zoning Appeals overturned the Historic Conservation Board decision to block demolition in December. 25 In late January 2017, Columbia secured a demolition permit for the Dennison.