First German Reformed Church

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.

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 of 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.


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I sure hope this building will be revived. My brother and I were baptized at this church in 1946 & 1947. Our family left the church in 1953 as they had moved to Clifton. I’ve been away from the area since 1970 but upon my yearly visits I always check to see if I can see the steeple from I75. My father Bill Guentter Jr. was raised in this church where he found a loving community.

There’s a mistake. First sentence reads:

The First German Reformed Church is formerly abandoned church in the East End neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio.

It should say West End, not East End.

Often times buildings that date back into the late 1800's like this are usually updated and reinforced to help preserve the building in it's natural state. However, this particular church seems to have been neglected for some time. It's good to see the new owners who took it over in 2011 made the repairs necessary to keep the church standing and in stable condition.

The story of devastation of First German Reformed Church should be a lesson-learned from everybody. History defines us but over the years, historical places like this was ignored and not taken care of. In effect, we lost the identity. It's nice to hear tha Windows and doors of the church were secured, and roof repairs were started. Looking forward for a far better renovation.

All of this church’s records are now part of the collection of the Evangelical and Reformed Historical Society located in Lancaster, PA.

Thank you so much for this information. I contacted the Historical Society today and they are going to accept a confirmation paper that I have for my great-grandmother from 1862, after making sure that it was the right church by looking in the records they have.

Hi Everyone,

I just passed by this today (April 2011) and saw that it looks like there was a fire in this still abandoned church. Can anyone confirm if the restoration project is still going forward? Sadly, it appears to be in a part of Cincinnati that is all but abandoned!


I have admired this church from afar and a friend told me the other day that someone has taken up renovations…That makes me very happy. I would love to have access for pictures. Would you happen to have contact info?



My great great grand parents Johan Roehm and Anna Maria Schurger were married in this church May 17, 1859. He was from Wuertemburg and she from Bavaria. They were recent immigrants at the time from Germany and settled in Cincinnati.

My German ancesters were some of the original founders in 1850s. My family attended this church until the early 1950s. Very excited about the church's renewal!

I have a Confirmation Certificate from this Church from 1862. I found in attic in my house in Fairfax. It's a shame this Church is gradually falling apart. Thanks for posting the pictures.

Dale Hutchinson

Dale, we are happy to inform you that this building is being saved! Incidentally, your certificate was from the congregation’s earlier home, this building was actually constructed in 1888. I was checking out Sherman’s page and thought you might like to know…

OTR A.D.O.P.T has managed to find someone else to take over this building. A pair of brothers is planning to turn it into a climbing gym!

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