Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have no shortage of historical buildings and stories. Over the years, many of the region's historic buildings have had new life breathed into them bringing the historic into the modern era. These former churches, train stations and historic houses now welcome visitors into their restaurants, hotels, breweries and attractions. Enjoy exploring these reimagined and reinvigorated spots!
Carlo & Johnny & The Precinct
The name Jeff Ruby is synonymous with mouth-watering steaks. The restaurateur has several restaurants in the Cincinnati region, two with rather interesting pasts. The historic mansion that is now home to Carlo & Johnny was once a casino and gangster hideout. While you don't have to worry about swimming with the fishes, you can indulge in the restaurant's raw bar offering six varieties of oysters, Alaskan king crab and cold-water lobster – not to mention, the award-winning Ruby steaks. The Precinct is aptly named as it resides in the former Cincinnati Police Patrol House Number 6. The historic space provides an intimate white-tablecloth experience in Cincinnati's East End neighborhood.
Where gunpowder and ammunition were once produced in the early 20th century, now craft beers are brewed on the banks of the Little Miami River in the historic Peters Cartridge Factor. Long a favorite for ghost hunting fanatics, the complex is on the National Register of Historic Places and produced ammunition cartridges for Allied troops during World War I. Focusing on the tradition craft of brewing, the Cartridge Brewing serves a selection of old world beers alongside easy-drinking specialty styles that are brewed on-site. The brewery is right off of the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail so you can take a ride and cool off with a nice cold brew at the brewery.
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal
The Art Deco splendor of one of the region's premier attractions, Cincinnati Museum Center once welcomed home soldiers from World War II when it was known more simply as Union Terminal and functioned primarily as a busy train station. The USO also used the venue as a lounge during the war. After a brief two-year stint as a shopping mall in the early 1980s, the venue then was transformed into Cincinnati Museum Center. While it still services Amtrak, the National Historic Landmark is more entertainment and history venue than thoroughfare for arriving and departing travellers with multiple attractions housed within its walls and an Omnimax theater. Click here to read more about the Cincinnati Museum Center, its history and its Art Deco architecture.
Hotel Covington now sits in the spot that was once Coppin's Department Store, Kentucky's first "skyscraper" at seven stories tall. The region's largest department store in the early 20th century is now a luxurious hotel and restaurant in Covington, Ky. The boutique hotel incorporated vintage style and character into its decor and guest rooms and Coppin's Restaurant pays obvious homage to the space's history.
Taft Museum of Art
The National Historic Landmark of Taft Museum of Art is two centuries old. The museum was once the home of prominent Cincinnatians including Nicholas Longworth who hired African American artist Robert S. Ducanson to paint landscape murals that are now recognized as the most significant pre-Civil War domestic murals in America. Anna Sinton Taft and her husband Charles Phelps Taft (half brother to President William Howard Taft), the museum's namesakes, called the building home from 1873 to 1929 and bequeathed it and a private collection of works to the people of Cincinnati. The building is now one of the finest small art museums in the country.
Taft’s Ale House
Cincinnati loves its beer. Claiming its stake in the craft brewing space in the 1800s, the city was dubbed the "beer capital of the world" in 1890. While Cincinnatians don't exactly worship at the altar of craft beer, we do have several breweries now located in former churches. Taft's Ale House in Over-the-Rhine opened in St. Paul's German Evangelical Church, which was once the oldest protestant parish in the city. Bar stools and picnic-style tables have taken the place of pews; and where the organ would pipe out hymns each Sunday, now stand beer tanks pouring out craft brews like Nellie's Key Lime Ale and Gavel Banger IPA. The ale house also offers a full menu, led by its tri-tip steak dishes.
Tousey House Tavern
Indulge in tasty Southern dishes and hospitality at Tousey House Tavern, a pre-Civil War building that dates back to 1817 and is considered one of the most accurate examples of Federal-style architecture in Northern Kentucky. Reinvented as a tavern and livery, boarding house, gift shop and consignment shop, the Tousey House restaurant now dishes up southern-fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and more. It is also part of The B-Line, serving up an extensive selection of bourbons.
You'll want to try one of the fruit or sour beers that this brewery is known for. Located in the former St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Northside, Urban Artifact's taproom is in the basement of the historic church with the brewery in the old gym. The owners incorporated parts of the church into the new decor, such as old radiators that now decorate the front of the bar and 1930s lamps hanging over the bar. Wildfire Pizza Kitchen dishes up small wood-fired pizzas to pair with your craft brew.
The View at Shires' Garden
In 1842, an English aristocrat opened Shires Garden, an urban amusement resort with a theater (that birthed the matinee), magical gardens with plants from around the world, hotel and grand restaurant. Six years later, a fire consumed the resort. Paying homage to its history, today's The View at Shires' Garden, located on the 10th floor of the City Club Apartments, offers a delicious seasonally-driven menu, craft cocktails and breathtaking views of the riverfront from its panoramic rooftop space.