The Ault & Wiborg Company

I thought nothing of the Ault & Wiborg Building in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio until it was too late. But it had an interesting history…

It’s always a shame when a structurally sound building is demolished for a surface lot. It’s even more upsetting when it is in a central business district.

A rather unassuming reinforced concrete structure, the six-story Ault & Wiborg building was constructed in 1930 along the slopes of the Bloody Run valley. It was located only blocks from the Cincinnati, Lebanon & Northern rail yards, and adjacent to other industrial structures in what was a densely populated valley lined with slaughterhouses.

I thought little of the building, which sat underutilized and vacant for years, until the wrecking ball smacked against the facade of bricks on an afternoon in October. Resolved to find out its history and to document what was left of the building, I climbed the lone staircase to document it late one night and then began, in earnest, a basic query at the Hamilton County Auditor’s web-site.

I found more history in the ensuing day than I had ever expected.

The Ault & Wiborg Company, established in 1878 as a manufacturer of printing inks and dry color dyes and pigments, soon became immensely successful, expanding into the global trade due to its innovative use of coal-tar dyes that produced brightly colored inks at a time when only black and white images were used in the printing houses. Its first location was a small building on New Street, but it soon required a newer and larger structure.

The ink business of the Ault & Wiborg Company was sold to the International Printing Ink Corporation, which later became known as the Interchemical Corporation. In 1969, the property was transferred to the Clopay Corporation.

Clopay, established in Cincinnati in 1859 as the Seinsheimer Paper Company, sold paper products and other sundries in the region. The acronym “Clopay” was later used in the early 20th century, formed by the contraction of the words cloth and paper. Clopay later went into the garage door manufacturing business and housed some of its operations in the building.

The property did not stay with Clopay for long, as it was transferred to Frye Copysystems in 1973 and then to Henry Tollman III and Raymond B. Fine in 1983. It was listed as an Ohio Superfund Site on August 11, 1997.

The last transfer occurred on February 14, 2007 when the 417 E. 7th Street, LLC was formed. It was under their direction that the decision was made to demolish rather than rehabilitate the property.

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