First German Reformed Church

Religious / Ohio

The First German Reformed Church is formerly abandoned church in the West End neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is being stabilized and renovated into a climbing gymnasium.


The First German Reformed Church was constructed in 1850 in the German immigrant-heavy West End neighborhood of Cincinnati. 1 The building featured a front limestone exterior with a side and rear built of brick.

In 1918, owing to changing demographics and anti-German hysteria after the first World War, the First German Reformed Church became known as the First Reformed Church. 1 2 The congregation was forced to sell the building in 1970 after demographic and neighborhood changes caused the congregation to decline.

The Freeman Avenue United Church of Christ then occupied the church until 1975. 1 2 The property was transferred to Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses on November 18, 1993, although the sanctuary was abandoned.

First German Reformed Church

The church was slated for demolition until Over-the-Rhine Adopt, a service to match property owners to prospective buyers, found a buyer for the building. The church was marketed with a discount rate with the condition that the new owners make necessary repairs to stabilize the structure and pay all back taxes and fees.

Teddy Aitkins, Manny Hernandez, and Skye White purchased the church on January 20, 2011, with the intent to reopen it as an art gallery and restaurant. Those plans did not come to fruition due to the high expense in rehabilitating the structure.

After purchasing the property via Over-the-Rhine Adopt in 2017, Joe Wiedeman is planning to convert the sanctuary into a climbing gymnasium.



  1. “German Evangelical & Lutheran Church Records.” Cincinnati & Hamilton County, Ohio Resources. 20 July 2009.
  2. First Reformed Church. “Church records, 1844-1977.” Genealogical Society of Utah (Salt Lake City) 1993. 22 July 2009. Microform.