Out of the Shadow of Ruin


Westmoreland obviously has not given up—nor have those neighbors who have joined him in the rebirth of Mt. Auburn. And in doing so, they have learned something too easily and too often forgotten: that “new” is not necessarily better than “old.” “Let me give you an example,” Westmoreland told his interviewer. “The building you’re in has nine rooms. It is 135 years old.… The congregation that owns the building was going to tear it down four years ago because they had no further use for it and it was, quote, old. They gave us the house and we have put $12,000 into it.… We have space that we could not duplicate for $100,000.

“But nobody knew this building was pretty; it was old. Nobody paid any attention to the brass doorknobs even though suburbanites steal them. Nobody paid any attention to the chandeliers and the milk glass even though, again, antique dealers pay people to steal them. We have hardwood floors in the boardroom that most people cannot afford to install anymore. These things are in our neighborhoods all over the country.”

Will the resuscitation of Mt. Auburn save Cincinnati from the shadow of ruin that appears to lie over many great American cities? Not by itself-but this restoration of life and initiative to one urban neighborhood provides a measure of hope, at least.