Lindenwald is Hamilton's most populous neighborhood. It's also rich in history
Just north of Fairfield in Butler County, on the southern edge of Hamilton, you'll find the historic neighborhood of Lindenwald. WVXU's Tana Weingartner takes us to this re-emerging gem in our latest installment of the community storytelling initiative, Round the Corner.
It's a beautiful spring day as Dick Scheid and I climb into his car for a driving tour. The retired science teacher and de facto historian of Lindenwald has lived here for decades, though he grew up on the west side of Hamilton.
"To get to Lindenwald for a date or with your buddies, you had to take a bus from the west side to downtown; you had to transfer, which was a little ticket that would get you on another bus that would take you to Lindenwald," he explains. "It was like the end of the earth out here, which is what I was talking about when I said they were allowed to develop on their own because they were not close to the city center."
The first pioneer settlers of Lindenwald date to the late 1700s, providing resources for soldiers at nearby Fort Hamilton. By the 1850s, newspapers were referring to the "Village of Lindenwald," though it was never incorporated.
The community was eventually annexed into Hamilton in 1908. The name comes from the German word for "forest of linden trees," though you'd be hard pressed to find any today.
It was a railroad town, bordered to the east by the train tracks and Ohio 4, and to the west by the Great Miami River. Stretching from the border with Fairfield north to Knightsbridge Drive, Lindenwald is the most populous of Hamilton's 17 neighborhoods.
Lindenwald 'an embarrassment of riches'
Perhaps you've heard of one of Lindenwald's largest businesses? Miami University Hamilton.
A blue-collar town, residents worked in the mills and factories — Shuler & Benninghofen, Hamilton Caster, Mosler Safe and more were all within walking distance.
Largely German and Appalachian in origin, many families have been here for generations.
"Born and raised in Lindenwald, I am a multi-generational Hamiltonian on both sides of the family," quips Brandon Saurber. "Lindenwald is home to both my wife and myself. We both grew up there."
Saurber is director of neighborhoods for the city of Hamilton.
"When we talk about third places — those places that aren't work and aren't home — Lindenwald has an embarrassment of riches, in that respect. They have more parks than any other neighborhood within the city, the churches, and corner bars. It's the parks, churches and corner bars," he says with a chuckle. "It's funny, my dad's dad always told him 'Never let your corner bar go bad.' "
Just like his granddad, Saurber thinks these gathering places are important to the community.
Dick Scheid adds it's the people who make the place.
"They're a feisty bunch, and they're unique. They're pretty proud. I have a friend who puts down 'God's Country' on his return address — Lindenwald. That's Brandon Saurber's dad, by the way,"
There may not be lindens, but there's lots of 'porching'
Though not lindens, many streets are tree-lined. People are always out and about. Housing ranges from stately homes along Pleasant Ave — that's Hamilton Ave once you're out of Butler County — to American four-squares, Craftsman bungalows and even several tiny homes — oh, and one castle.
"It's a French chateau-type castle, actually," Scheid clarifies.
What's the backstory?
"He was a typesetter for the Times-Star newspaper in Cincinnati and he just wanted to build a French-style castle. And so, he did," Scheid says.
One thing many homes have in common around here are front porches. On a nice evening people don't hide inside. They're out chatting with the neighbors — they call it "porching." If you're on your front porch, it's an open invitation.
"People will come by on the street and and they'll just stop in and visit for a while, which you don't see too often. We have a lot of good times porching — solve the problems of the world, one beer at a time," Scheid laughs.
We'll continue exploring Lindenwald in the coming weeks — how the community is changing, the businesses and people who make it special — and hopefully a sweet treat or two.