Within the Northern Liberties of Over-the-Rhine, at the angular intersection of Back, Benton and Hamer Streets stands a three-story Italianate building with a decorative tin cornice. Located at 1667 Hamer (or 53 Hamer, as it was known before Cincinnati renumbered its streets in the 1890s), the “Tailor Shop” was built around 1870 on top of an earlier, wood-frame building from the 1840s.
Andrew Herold, a Bavarian music teacher and clock and organ maker, and his family owned and lived in this earlier structure from 1848 through the next three decades. During these mid-century years, he operated his music business out of the building. In the late 1870s, after the sudden death of Andrew and the loss of his income, the surviving Herolds lost possession of their home.
Thereafter, by 1880, the wood-frame building was demolished; the present-day “Tailor Shop” was erected, and the Steigerwalds and Mareschs moved in. From 1880 throughout the turn of the 20th century, the building served as a tailor shop for these German-speaking immigrant families, thus prompting the present-day moniker “the Tailor Shop.” It wasn’t the only one on Hamer Street. During this time, there were always at least three tailor shops nearby; in 1898, there were seven in operation on the street. The Zottleder family – from what is now the Czech Republic – and then the Mayer family continued this tradition, maintaining the building as a tailor shop into the 1910s. Thereafter, its commercial use faded, but individuals and families continued to reside there, many of them increasingly from Appalachia and the south. Indeed, the couple that owned and lived in the Tailor Shop in the mid-1950s were from southeast Kentucky.
Fewer and fewer individuals lived at the Tailor Shop and on Hamer Street into the post-WWII era. Illustrative of the effects of urban impoverishment and white flight, by the late 1960s, with only one person in the Tailor Shop, Hamer Street was largely vacant. This trend became more acute throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and by 1977, no one lived at the Tailor Shop.
The building was obtained by OTR ADOPT in 2011 and, with the aid of state and federal historic tax credits, renovated as a Kunsthous beginning in 2014. In early 2016 it was fully rented and alive again.