the history of

The Emanuel Center

Established in 1871, the Emanuel Community Center was founded to serve the expanding local population of German immigrants who were coming to Cincinnati. A great many of those German families settled in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, and the Nast-Trinity German Methodist congregation next door saw the need to form a community center. 

In 1923, Emanuel moved into the structure you see today. The historic building was designed by well known architecture firm Samuel Hannaford & Sons and built by Ferro Concrete Company at a cost of $224,245. 

Since the beginning, Emanuel has continuously served the needs of the neighborhood. Its vibrant history includes chapters as a Gospel Mission, Drop-Inn Center, the Martha Washington Home for businesswomen, daycare center, provider of youth development programs, and more. Many wonderful, bright, and talented folks have walked through the doors of 1308 Race Street but probably none more notable than World Champion heavyweight boxer Ezzard Charles, who participated in Emanuel’s athletic programs. 

The latest chapter in the history of the Emanuel Center fits seamlessly with its past. In 2012, Peg Wyant of Grandin Properties purchased the building with a plan to launch the Cincinnati Squash Academy, an urban squash program that helps create a pathway for inner-city kids to get into college. The basketball court was retrofitted into three squash courts. (Note: CSA occupies approximately 35% of the building, while other companies including Grandin Properties use the rest.)

By changing services to meet changing needs, this entity has survived 140+ years and is one of the city’s best assets. 

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