Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

'Bittersweet' demolition of former Lincoln Heights High School building begins

a big yellow crane truck leans against a small brown brick building with boarded up windows against green grass and a clear blue sky
Becca Costello
Demolition of the former Lincoln Heights High School began Monday, October 23.

The former Lincoln Heights High School is under demolition after sitting vacant for nearly 20 years. The school itself closed in 1970, but the building also served as a YMCA and civic center for the historic Black community.

Mayor Ruby Kinsey-Mumphrey kicked off an emotional farewell to the building Monday, calling it a truly bittersweet moment.

Donald Darby attended Lincoln Heights High School and was a student teacher there during college.

RELATED: New construction homes are rare in Lincoln Heights. Two are now on the market

"Oh girl, you've been good to us," Darby said, looking back at the structure. "We want to thank you. And although you are an inanimate building, you brought life to this community. Go Tigers!"

Village officials hope to attract a commercial or housing development to the site, as well as new residents.

Councilmember and former mayor Laverne Mitchell says removing the building doesn't erase the memories or successes.

"The demolition of this structure is actually going to allow us to re-envision how this space can create awesome new memories and sustain our community's future, like it once did," Mitchell said.

RELATED: Lincoln Heights was denied resources for decades. Now is the time for a resurgence, officials say

The Village has struggled with an insufficient tax base since incorporating more than 75 years ago. County leaders at the time blocked every attempt to include tax-generating sites like the aeronautics plant that later became GE Aviation. Those same leaders eventually let a majority-white community incorporate with the plant.

The high school property has been vacant since 2004, but the Village only now has the funding for demolition, thanks to the state and Hamilton County.

It will take about two weeks to bring the whole building down, and another month to fully clear the site.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.