Just north of Fairfield in Butler County, on the southern edge of Hamilton, you’ll find the historic district of Lindenwald. WVXU’s Tana Weingartner takes us to this re-emerging gem in our latest episode of the Community Storytelling InitiativeAround the corner.
It’s a beautiful spring day as Dick Scheid and I get into his car for a road trip. The retired science teacher and de facto historian of Lindenwald has lived here for decades, although he grew up in the western part of Hamilton.
“To get to Lindenwald for a date or with your buddies, you had to take a bus from the west side to the city center; you had to make a connection, which was a small ticket that allowed you to take another bus that would take you to Lindenwald,” he explains. “It felt like the end of the world here, that’s what I was talking about when I said they were allowed to develop on their own because they weren’t close to the city center.”
Lindenwald’s first pioneer settlers date back to the late 1700s, providing resources to nearby soldiers Fort Hamilton. In the 1850s newspapers referred to the “Village of Lindenwald”, although it was never incorporated.
The community was eventually annexed to Hamilton in 1908. The name comes from the German word meaning “linden forest”, although you would be hard pressed to find any today.
It was a railroad town, bordered on the east by the railroad tracks and the Ohio 4, and on 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 wards.
Lindenwald ‘an embarrassment of riches’
Have you heard of one of Lindenwald’s biggest companies? University of Miami Hamilton.
A working town, locals worked in the mills and factories – Shuler & Benninghofen, Hamilton Caster, Mosler Safe and many more were all within walking distance.
Largely of German and Appalachian descent, many families have been here for generations.
“Born and raised in Lindenwald, I’m a multi-generational Hamiltonian on both sides of the family,” jokes Brandon Saurber. “Lindenwald is the home of 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 are neither at work nor at home – Lindenwald is embarrassed to be rich, in this regard. They have more parks than any other area of the city, churches and the local bars. . It’s the parks and the churches and the local bars,” he laughs. “It’s funny, my dad’s dad always told him ‘Never leave your bar off’. angle spoil.’ “
Like his grandfather, Saurber believes these gathering places are important to the community.
Dick Scheid adds that people make the place.
“They’re fiery, and they’re unique. They’re pretty proud. I have a friend who says ‘God’s Country’ on his return address – Lindenwald. He’s Brandon Saurber’s dad, by the way.”
There may not be lime trees, but there is a lot of “porching”
Although not lime trees, many streets are lined with trees. People are always on the move. Accommodations range from stately homes along Pleasant Ave—it’s Hamilton Ave once you’re out of Butler County—to four American squares, Craftsman bungalows, and even several cottages—oh, and a castle.
“It’s a French chateau-like castle, actually,” Scheid clarifies.
What is the backstory?
“He was a typesetter for the Times-Star newspaper in Cincinnati and he just wanted to build a French chateau. And he did,” Scheid said.
One thing many homes have in common here are porches. On a nice evening, people don’t hide inside. They’re chatting with the neighbors – they call it swine. If you’re on your porch, it’s an open invitation.
“People will pass on the street and they’ll stop and visit for a while, which you don’t see too often. We have a lot of good times on the veranda – solving the world’s problems, one beer at a time,” Scheid laughs.
We’ll continue to explore Lindenwald in the weeks to come – how the community is changing, the businesses and people that make it special – and hopefully a treat or two.