Cincy Obscura: Dennison Hotel’s Last Stand


It began as an ironworks company in 1892. It ended as rubble after the battle between the Columbia Development Group (a division of Joseph Auto) and preservation activists. The Dennison Hotel at 716 Main St. owed its handsome facade to the architectural skill of Samuel Hannaford and Sons. And it owed its reputation as a refuge for the homeless to its final decades of life.

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer.

But the sign high on its south-facing wall announcing 105 Rooms – 60 Baths was also a reminder of an era when a bachelor might live at the YMCA and clerk at the Courthouse; when a young stenographer at P&G could find safe, respectable housing at the Anna Louise Inn. During the Depression, the upper floors of 716 Main St. were converted to affordable lodging, too. If you were a laborer coming to the city looking for work in the lean years before WWII, there was the Dennison Hotel. The walls that came down in March (shown here from the vantage of the Carew Tower observation deck) offered a brief view into a world where men in need stood in line to shower and shave before going out to face an uncertain future.

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