Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is an abandoned Roman Catholic church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Considered the “mother” English-speaking parish in Cincinnati, St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church was instrumental in arranging the development of Catholicism in the western and eastern parts of the city. 3 It was also the first English filial congregation.
Because Cincinnati was considered a booming community in the 1800s, relating its gains to the meatpacking industries and its location along the Ohio River, it was not long before a new church was needed outside of St. Xavier. 3 A large Irish population had developed in the southwestern part of the city, and in 1850, it was proposed to build a church on the northeast corner of 3rd and Mill streets. On May 1, a lease was signed by Lemuel Page, John Bonte, and John T. Chambers to Reverend John B. Purcell for $1,800 with the privilege of the purchase at a price of $7,000. 4 The lot was purchased from Purcell in May 1853.
Father Cahill, to whom the organization of the new church was entrusted to, helped erect St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the same year. 5 Bishop Lamy blessed the new building on November 24.
The first filial church of St. Patrick’s came a decade later. The parish of the Atonement on West 3rd Street was begun in 1870 as a chapel for the Sisters of Mercy but was converted into a parish church with Father Homan as pastor. 5 The second filial church of St. Patrick’s was St. Vincent de Paul’s in Sedamsville. St. Vincent was completed in 1861 under the organization of Father McLeod. 6
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
In 1878, a division occurred within the parish of St. Vincent de Paul, 2 when German-speaking Catholics desired a Catholic school. 6a Organized by Father Otto Jair, O.F.M. on January 27, Our Lady of Perpetual Help was formed in Sedamsville. It was made official on May 12, 1878. 1
An old stone schoolhouse near the Ohio River on Sedam Street was purchased, with the upper floor being dedicated to church services while the basement served as a school and teacher residence. 6a A new parochial house was constructed on Dehli Avenue several years later. 1
Frequent flooding required relocation, and the property was acquired along Steiner Avenue for a new church. The cornerstone was laid for the new sanctuary on June 10, 1888. Designed in the Gothic Revival style, the new Our Lady of Perpetual Help was dedicated on May 5, 1889. 1 2
The church, perched on the hillside offered a commanding presence that overlooked the business district of Sedamsville as it soared 170 feet high. 1 2 Inside was an organ that was given to the parish by Pope Leo XIII and four bells in the steeple. 2 The basement housed the parochial school. 1
In 1890-91, a new parsonage was constructed, and the old residence was reused as a house for the Sisters who taught in the parochial school. 1 A new three-story school structure was constructed in 1907.
The school closed in 1976 due to declining enrollment. 2 Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church closed in 1989 when it merged with the Holy Family parish in East Price Hill due to declining attendance. 2 The building was stripped of any decorative items, and the church bells and organ were relocated to Holy Family.
John Klosterman purchased the Our Lady of Perpetual Help building from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1995. Klosterman, along with his partner Jim Grawe, owned many properties in the neighborhood. They had hoped for the city and private financing to remake Sedamsville from a low-income to an upscale neighborhood.
The Sedamsville Building Committee requested to the city in the fall of 2010 that the deteriorating church be demolished, citing that the property had become a blight and a safety hazard. 8 A few days before the demolition date, Klosterman and the Cincinnati Preservation Association struck a deal that would give the group two years to stabilize the church and market it nationally for resale.
In April 2012, the city-funded $200,000 in repairs to the steeple, board up the damaged windows, repair a collapsed balcony, and shore up the interior floor. 9
- “Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.” Greater Cincinnati Memory Project. Athenaeum of Ohio, Eugene H. Maly Memorial Library. 5 Sept. 2008 Page.
- Dan. “Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sedamsville.” Queen City Survey 23 Dec. 2007. 5 Sept. 2008 Entry.
- Lamott, Rev. John H., S.T.D. “Hierarchical Constitution.” History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1821-1921. Cincinnati: Mountel Press, 1921. 130. Print.
- Souvenir Golden Jubilee, St. Patrick’s, Cincinnati, 1900. Deed of lease between Lamuel Page, John Bonte and John T. Chambers to John B. Purcell, May 1, 1850, recorded copy in the Supreme Court of Ohio, Church Case, printed records, IV, exhibits, pages 67-70. Reported in the Catholic Telegraph on May 4, 1850.
- Catholic Telegraph, June 29 and November 30, 1850.
- Catholic Telegraph, September 1870. July 3, 1873. Deed between Sisters of Mercy to John B. Purcell, March 15, 1873, recorded in the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office, Book 409, page 237. Duplicated copy in the Supreme Court of Ohio, Church Case, printed records, II, 18; IV, exhibit 52, pages 76-77.
- Deed from Henry F. Sedam to John B. Purcell, October 26, 1861, recorded in the Hamilton County Recorder’s Office, Book 286, page 480. Duplicated copy in the Supreme Court of Ohio, ut supra IV, exhibit 28, pages 34-35. Reported in the Catholic Telegraph on November 23, 1861, XXXI, page 252.
7a. Catholic Telegraph, January 31 and May 12, 1878.
- Prendergast, Jane. “Salvation comes to 121-year old church.” Cincinnati Enquirer 15 Jan. 2011, ed.: n. pag. Web. 21 Jan. 2011.
- “Sedamsville church receives preservation help.” Business Courier [Cincinnati] 20 Apr. 2012: n. pag. Web. 19 Aug. 2014.
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I wanted to buy this church in the worst way possible I drove 9 hours to go see it and spent three days there saw the inside fell in love with it and had a dream to restore it tell a beautiful Refuge or Haven with police protection. A residence mainly and secondly I’m meeting hall for Alcoholics Anonymous and runaway youth again with police protection to ensure safety and defiance of what transpired on the property many years ago that I was all too familiar with but they shot me down I certainly had the cash to purchase it at the time but not to show $250,000 for renovation which I could have done myself with my ability and connections for less than $50,000 but they shot me down arrogantly and very unfriendly to say the least so good luck Cincinnati my intentions were pure and I will take my dream elsewhere and already have
I Remember so well, OLPH , I attended grade school there , and lived in the area for yrs . Its really sad to see the pic’s of how the Church looks .
Jeannie Heekin goes to AA Promises Club in Newport KY which looks very like this church where her great grandparents were married. http://hcgsohio.org/upload/files/Local%20Records/Marriages%20and%20Divorces/HCGS-Marriages1808-1884-Grooms-AbbreviatedIndex-H-K.pdf
The School is very, Haunted. If anyone has had experience there please write me about it. Facebook. Jenni Mae
I went to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and Church from 1st grade to 8th grade. I used to lived on Sedam St. Love the Church and School. I hope someone will by it, to fixed her up. I still have good rememories of going there. Playing on the soft ball team. God Bless you all for doing your best to save the church. Are they trying to fixed up the school to? It will be a good place for apartments.
I would Love to have this bride donated to In My Father House Outreach non profit org.My name is Rev.Roosevelt K.Jenkins II to whom may concern.WE the People should have compassion to want to restore this bride back for the people and by the people.This bride has purpose and with God help can &will be restored back to true ART FORM.Just have Faith of a Mustard Seed yet of little Faith.This Bride belong to the people for the people.God Bless the United States of America.Take back what the devil Stole from Us?Rev.Roosevelt k.JenkinsII 123 watermoss drive cleveland,nc27013 please help&pray&love read Psalms91 .
I wanted to buy this building sooo bad and made a 19 hour journey driving to do so pleaded with them only to be rudely ignored and hung up on by preservation board member paul and ignored by margo warminski on email after promising me I could see the interior which I eventually did without her help but they talk about wanting integrity to the building yet they cant even remove the massive destructive bee hive from the front of badly vandalized church or 5o lbs or mor of raccoon shit in the bell tower. this is there capability of restoration and respect or integrity. my hands are clean I tried. and the statement in newsletter by seth that I refused to show funds is incorrect
My grandfather, Frank E Schuerman, had a stain glass window with our family name on it at OLPH. It was above the side door. Do you have a picture of that window? I would love to have that. I took a picture once after the church was closed from the outside, but of course it is not clear.
So many memories of that church, where my parents went to school and married and where I was baptized.
Thanks Lois Schuerman Lambers
Hi – we just received the February 2014 issue of the Cincinnati magazine with the article and pictures of OLPH church.
My family, Wilke and Brinkmann attended the church – my father went to the school, and my great grandfather
Joseph Brinkmann donated a stained glass window. Could you and/or have you taken a picture of that window?
Its on the street side near the altar, we think.
We would love to have a better picture of it. Please let us know.
I will take a look and see what I can find!
My name is Heather Tirado, maiden name Hay. My grandparents owned and operated Renters Tavern. I was born and raised in the apartments above the bar, address 769 Delhi Ave. This was the neatest and most beautiful place to live as a young girl. Sadly, the building was demolished a while back, around 1998. My father attended O.L.P.H. and my family belonged to the parish until the church closed. I made my First Holy Confession under that stunning church spire. Living in this neighborhood, and especially this house, has given me a sense of awe and wonder at old buildings and neighborhoods. I was wondering if you could research some history of my old house. I was told that it was a textile factory in its beginning, but have no way to find out for sure and I really don’t know where to start. Thanks for reading!
P.S. I am more than certain that this building was haunted.
You nailed John Klosterman down to a T. I used to live in Sedamsville for several years and used to rent from him as well. He is BY FAR one of the biggest pieces of shit out there. Definition of slum lord and scum. I’ve never met a single individual who had anything nice to say about the man. He tries to pawn himself off as some humanitarian trying to do good and fix Sedamsville and help the community, but his actions tell a different story. He was recently, past few months, in court and sent to jail over non-compliance, but sadly was released the same day due to over-crowding. He is currently, as of February 2017, involved in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by one of his ex-tenants. And this is not the first time he’s been accused of sexual advances towards tenants. This man should be stripped of his properties and forced to live in one of them under similar conditions he’s imposed on his tenants. And you are 100% accurate about the water bills. He puts the water bills of his properties in the names of his tenants renting, so if he has’t to he can pawn the bill off on them if it gets out of hand. POS and a criminal. It’s one thing to say and perhaps feel good deeds in your heart. But only a real man will actually put his time, money and dedication into it.
Hello This is the FIRST I have heard the School is Haunted . So tell me more … I went to School there at OLPH . 1st – 6th Grades .
I do not believe its haunted we was raised there and never experienced any hauntings the whole time we went there. It’s the work of the devil who makes people believe that crap!!!
John Klosterman was never going to fix anything. He’s a slumlord and a scam artist. My mother had the deed for a property on Delhi that belonged to our family for over 40 years. When the last of our family that was living there passed away, he offered to buy. The agreement involved him giving payments to my mother for the property that should have already been paid. He still owes her money for the property, never got the deed switched into his name as it should have been and hasn’t paid the taxes on it that are still in my deceased aunts name. We went and spoke to the tenant that he has living in there who stated that he never fixes anything and he stuck her with a water bill that was from the last tenants. That water bill was also left in my deceased aunts name until my mother sent them proof of sale of the house. Once he found out she had it switched he passed it off to his tenant instead of paying it himself as he should have. Everyone in Sedamsville that we’ve spoken to has nothing but negative things to say about him. We will be taking him to court to straighten out our mess with him yet I do feel for the people who are renting from this scum. I’m sure he wanted to keep our property out of his name so he doesn’t have to claim the income and can cheat the government since he has no problem with cheating a 67 year old woman!!!
The civic association and the preservation society have been working hand in hand trying to save the church where so many of them went as children and young adults. They were finally able to get some grants to stabilize and they have employed a company to do so with much success! Klosterman and his partner had grand ideas to make a lot of cash out of Sedamsville but since that isn’t happening they have just left these properties to rot. Many have had to be torn down. I would hate to see that happen to such a beautiful and historic structure. The church steeple has been stabilized, a security system put in to keep vandals out, the boarded windows to keep any more stain glass from being broken have been replaced and painted so they are not such an eye sore. Now we just need a buyer!
Sadly they preservation Society involved is not helpful. I attempted last year to bring in my independent Catholic Church in the building. I took the time to speak with members of the community who wanted it to happen. The preservation society would not allow me in the building unless I could show bank accounts with $1 million minimum to use on repairs. I had volunteers who were professional contractors willing to provide the services, in writing, but still denied a meeting. I think they are looking for money not to save a beautiful historical church.
[…] Our Lady of Perptual Help, located in Sedamsville on Cincinnati’s western fringes, is a vacant church that holds prominent yet silent vigil over the neighborhood and remnants of the business district. The church parish was organized in 1878, and the building itself was dedicated on May 5, 1889. It was designed by the architect Adolphus Druiding (St. Louis), also known for the magnificent St. Lawrence’s Church in Price Hill. […]
I was just in the church today, and Julie is right: it is in WAY worse condition. The floor adjacent to one door is collapsed, requiring one to step on planks to enter; the floor of the confessional is ready to collapse any day now, part of the ceiling in the rear of the left side of the church has fallen, and the balcony is getting worse.
Still a very cool abandoned location, though, especially with so much stained glass left.
When were these shots taken? I was just in the church last night and it is WAY worse condition now then when these photos were taken. It doesn't seem like anyone is working on stabilizing this church at all!! I guess in a year or so, we will hear the demolition callings again.
what a shame,my name is Dan vanderpool I was born in July 1963 & I am 47 yrs.old .I grew up in sadamsville and attended O.L.P.H.( that is what we as kids called it). I went there from 1st to the 7th grade and would of graduated but it closed and I had to go to Holy Family in Price Hill in 1976 . In June 1973 my Mothers Funeral services were held there and she was buried in St. Josephs Cemetery.
O.L.P.H. was the 1st baseball team (D ball I think 3rd or 4th grade ) I was ever on and we came in 1st place, I still have the little trophy somewhere, only lost 1 game to St. Antonitise out of Delhi. Because of lack of money it was the last year for baseball at O.L.P.H.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have a lot of good memories of that time, What a shame. Times and the people sure has changed….
Thank You for the memories