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A helpful list of some unique outdoor, historic and unusual wedding reception locations.

While certainly not comprehensive, this is a shortlist of some of our favorite “so you,” uncommon event venues to hold a wedding reception. Obviously there are many great spaces in town to hold an incredible party — including hotels such as the Cincinnatian, the Hilton Netherland or the new 21c and event centers such as The Phoenix, The Bell Event Centre and The Grand — but here are some locales you might not have thought of.

OUTDOOR

BB Riverboats: Charter a private river cruise on one of BB Riverboats steamboats. Packages include boarding time, a two-and-a-half hour Ohio River cruise, staff, buffet, service and other variables depending on the package your purchase. For 50-250 guests. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

The Centennial Barn: Built in 1898 and renovated in 2010, the brick barn blends historic and modern with 35 acres of green spaces, gardens and enough barn space to accommodate up to 200 guests. 110 Compton Road, Wyoming, centennialbarn.org.

Chateau Pomije: Nestled in Southeast Indiana’s picturesque hillside, Chateau Pomije feels like a little piece of Europe in the Tristate. With more than 70 acres of vineyards, a three-acre lake and a 5,000 square-foot stone banquet facility, the castle-like Chateau can accommodate up to 350 guests for a rustic, elegant reception. 25043 Jacobs Road, Guilford, Ind., cpwinery.com.

Cincinnati Parks: With so many beautiful outdoor spaces — Alms Park, Mt. Airy Forest, Ault Park, Washington Park, etc. — Cincinnati Parks offers garden weddings for various lengths of time. Read rental rules, regulations and get more info at cincinnatiparks.com.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: The Cincinnati Zoo offers both exotic indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception spaces for groups of any size. During your big day, you and your guests can enjoy the zoo’s beautiful gardens and unique animal exhibits, comprehensive catering packages and even a special visit by one or two small animals — you can even request more “dynamic” animals. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.

Coney Island: With its wrought iron facade, Coney Island’s Moonlite Gardens and Moonlite Pavilion open-air banquet facilities resemble New Orleans’ French Quarter. Requiring a minimum of 150 guests, Coney’s reception package includes a coordinator, dinner, a three-hour open bar service and more. The team even offers themed events like “Mardi Gras” and “Old-Fashioned State Fair.” 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, coneyislandpark.com.

The Fling Barn: Located on a 200-acre working horse farm, the Fling Barn offers 3,000 square feet of space over two levels for the ultimate barn wedding. For $8,900 you get a ceremony in the century-old Oak Grove, horse-drawn bridal carriage, reception, professional photographer, two nights at the bed and breakfast, music and a catered dinner for 100 guests. 8205 W. Berrysville Road, Hillsboro.

Greenacres’ Arts Center: A swath of preserved woodland and functional, educational farmland in the heart of Indian Hill, Greenacres hosts beautiful weddings at their English Norman-style Arts Center manor house with formal gardens, a cascading fountain, moat, tea house, chauffeur’s cottage and fully restored 1925 Aeolian Organ. 8255 Spooky Hollow, Indian Hill, green-acres.org.

Krippendorf Lodge: Built around 1899, this home has a covered wrap-around porch, a stone terrace and 1,025 acres of forest, fields and streams. The lodge accommodates 100 guests inside and an additional 200 guests on the porch and terrace. Rentals discounts between Nov. 1 and March 31. 4949 Tealtown Road, Milford, cincynature.org.

Pyramind Hill Sculpture Park & Museum: The park’s 265 acres of art and nature overlooks the Great Miami River, with several different sized outdoor rental facilities to choose from. You can rent everything from a 10,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor pavilion and lodge to the smaller Romanesque Ancient Sculpture Museum Patio & Gardens. 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, State Route 128, Hamilton, pyramidhill.org.

Vinoklet Winery: With 30 acres of green hills, mature vineyards and quaint, lilly-padded ponds — including a heart-shaped one— this vineyard and award-winning winery is a perfect setting for an outdoor wedding. Special pricing is available for ceremony/reception combos. Minimum of 100 guests on a Saturday. 11069 Colerain Ave., Colerain, vinokletwines.com.

HISTORIC

The Carnegie Center of Columbia Tusculum: This Beaux-Arts building served as a public library until 1959. With 22-foot ceilings, wood flooring and several rooms, the venue can seat 185 guests. 3738 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, thecarnegiecenter.org.

Cincinnati Observatory: The Greek revival observatory building, ideal for more intimate receptions, houses the world’s oldest telescope with an indoor capacity of 50-55 for dinner — table and chairs included — and 100 people outside. 3489 Observatory Place, Mt. Lookout, cincinnatiobservatory.org.

Glendale Lyceum: Built in 1892, the historic lyceum was a social club where members could meet to discuss current events, read the latest books and host social functions. It continues to be a charming gathering place today with various rooms available for rental for up to 300 guests. 865 Congress Ave., Glendale, glendalelyceum.com.

Krohn Conservatory: Built in 1933, this Art Deco plant conservatory is gorgeous for both its interior and exterior. And, if you look at the front of the building upside-down, it even resembles a heart. Maximum capacity is 150. 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, premierparkevents.com.

Little Red Schoolhouse: This authentic 19th-century, one-room schoolhouse is an unusual historical building with an amazing lawn. Once the building is rented, it may be used for both the wedding and the reception. Inside can house 80-125 people, but tents can be added to the front lawn to accommodate larger receptions. 8100 Given Road, Indian Hill, 513-891-1873.

Music Hall: This breathtaking, historic 19th century concert theater can house an audience of 3,500 or an intimate gathering of 20 or fewer. You can rent the barrel-vaulted Ballroom with decorative mirrors, gilt columns and ornate brass-work; the gold-accented Foyer with marble floors and crystal chandeliers; or the charming Corbett Tower, elegantly draped with sparkling chandeliers and a built-in stage area. 1241 Elm St., OTR, cincinnatiarts.org.

Peterloon: A combination of Georgian and Queen Anne styles built to rival the grandest houses of Europe, Peterloon is also home to walled gardens, terraces and lawns that extend to a circular pool overlooking an eight-acre lake. While only available for a handful of wedding every year, more than 250 guests can be accommodated outdoors on the great lawn under a tent and stars. 8605 Hopewell Road, Indian Hill, peterloon.org.

Promont House Museum: Home to the Greater Milford Area Historical Society, the Promont House allows guests to step back in time. This Victorian mansion, built circa 1865, offers the best in historic elegance: period furnishings, old-world grounds and a gazebo for outdoor ceremonies. 906 Main St., Milford, milfordhistory.net.

Union Terminal: A spectacular example of Art Deco architecture, Union Terminal opened in 1933 as a train depot and is now home to the Cincinnati Museum Center. Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Cincinnati History Museum, with dinner on the movie set-like Public Landing. 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org.

Wiedemann Hill Mansion: The mansion was built in 1894 by Charles Wiedemann, heir to the George Wiedemann Brewery. Specializing in small, intimate receptions, the mansion can accommodate up to 60, seated guests for dinner. 1102 Park Ave., Newport, Ky., whillmansion.com.

NON-TRADITIONAL

20th Century Theatre: This Art Deco-style movie theater was built in 1941 and was later transformed into an event venue. It holds both ceremonies and receptions (for 100-400 guests) with personalized marquee messages for each couple. 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, the20thcenturytheatre.com.

21c Museum Hotel: For modern brides, 21c is the newest premier reception venue. Whether it’s a lavish wedding ceremony and reception for 250 or an intimate, romantic rehearsal dinner for 20, the event staff at 21c ensures perfection, down to the finest detail. Catering provided by the Metropole’s culinary team and pre-wedding pampering available the the Spa at 21c. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 21cmuseumhotels.com.

American Sign Museum: With more than 400 brightly lit signs in the background, ranging from lettered to neon, no decorations needed. Rental rates are based on group size, length of the event and the staff support you need. 1330 Monmouth St., Camp Washington.

Art Museums: The Cincinnati Art Museum, Contemporary Arts Center and Taft Museum of Art all offer unique and artful spaces for your reception. Each venue has their own specifications so contact them for more information: cincinnatiartmuseum.orgcontemporaryartscenter.org and taftmuseum.org.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park: Although the Thompson Shelterhouse and the Marx Theatre are subject to extremely limited availability, the Playhouse’s other unique spaces (such as the Rosenthal Plaza or the Kaplan Lobby) combined with the beautiful park setting and a view of the skyline provide an elegant, unique atmosphere. Receptions can accommodate 20-280 guests. 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mt. Adams, cincyplay.com.

Loveland Castle: If you want a reception that reflects the “simple strength and rugged grandeur of the mighty men who lived when Knighthood was in flower,” or you’re going for a medieval theme, host a one-to-50-guest reception inside or a 51-to-100-guest reception outside. Weddings are held after 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only. 12025 Shore Road, Loveland, lovelandcastle.com.

The Mockbee: The Mockbee is a mid-19th century lager brewery in Cincinnati’s Historic Brewery District and a must-see for brides interested in a raw space for a historical, industrial or a gothic feel. 2260 Central Parkway, Brighton, themockbee@gmail.com.

Newport Aquarium: With a fantastic view of the river, the aquarium’s Riverside Room can accommodate up to 240 guests for dinner (350 for reception). For the ceremony/reception fee, you also gain exclusive access to the aquarium after hours and a visit from African penguins in their own, natural tuxedoes. 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com.

The Redmoor: The Redmoor’s “Weddings of Distinction” offer an elegant, customizable Art Deco space with all the amenities a wedding could need. Rental fee (with a $1,000 deposit due the day the venue is reserved) includes full use of bar and dining areas and more. Capacity is 225; room capacity 340. 3187 Linwood Avenue, Mt. Lookout, 513-871-6789, theredmoor.com.

Studio One Thirty: Housed in a historic 1800’s building, this intimate, vintage space has built-in apothecary cases, original 15-foot tin ceilings, crown molding, aesthetic accessories and hardwood floors. All rentals include an on-site venue manager the day of your event. 130 W. Sixth St., Covington, Ky.

Venue 222: Built in 1868, the building has been restored and remodeled to be a loft environment that still retains its original, historic character. Exposed brick and wood beam architecture, along with large windows with views of the city, are only part of the charm. A wedding/reception can seat 125 for dinner and 220 for cocktails without tables. 222 E. 14th St., Downtown.

The new 21c Museum Hotel breathes an interactive spirit into Downtown’s food and arts scene.

Change is never simple. Yet because the New Year so often reminds us to look back and see how far we’ve come (or not come) in a fixed amount of time, inevitably this “change” is an opportunity for new beginnings, and the concept is plied to us in everything from face cream to Nicorette.  

But what if your whole city deserved a new lease on life?  What if you wanted to make a positive change for yourself and others by revitalizing a town you believed deserved better? 21c Museum Hotel founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson did just that in Louisville, Ky., when in 2007 they converted five 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouses into a 90-room boutique hotel, contemporary museum, award-winning restaurant and cultural civic center. Part hotel, part museum, 21c Louisville has been voted by Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice survey among the top hotels in the world.  

A mere five years later, Brown and Wilson have opened their second property (with three more in progress), this one in the heart of Cincinnati’s Backstage District: the 100-year-old former Metropole Hotel. “Cincinnati seemed like the natural fit because it’s within the region, there was so much enthusiasm and we liked the building,” says Wilson in an online interview. “It’s who we are; we’re all about change, expression, beauty and the times.” 

The building, just steps away from one of Cincinnati’s busiest pedestrian corners at Sixth and Walnut streets, is a profound example of the changes Cincinnati has faced over the course of the structure’s past 100 years of existence — just like the tobacco and bourbon warehouses were in Louisville.   

Built in 1912 and designed by notable Cincinnati architect Joseph G. Steinkamp, who also designed the Art Deco-style American Building and the Cincinnatian (née Palace) Hotel, the Metropole was a 10-story hotel until 1924 when a mezzanine and 11th floor penthouse apartment were added. In 1971, the hotel was converted into efficiency and one-bedroom units, as well as federally subsidized housing, and suffered from subsequent decades of neglect until Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) purchased it in 2009. Shortly after, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.   

Although the turnover and subsequent relocation of the 200-plus residents was controversial (they were given one year from the date of purchase to move out), according to 3CDC, it paid for all costs associated with the move and hired a local property management company to oversee the process. To see the hotel now, you’d barely recognize it for the beige and coral stucco-boarded building it had become in recent years. Large glass windows now line the exterior and the previously shabby street-level facade has been replaced with new tile and unearthed, original terracotta friezes.  

A breathtaking brass chandelier by Austrian artist Werner Reiterer hangs from a clean white scaffold outside, taking an innately interior object and placing it within public space on Walnut Street. Everywhere you look are 21c’s trademark recycled plastic penguin sculptural icons — Cincinnati’s version is yellow, while Louisville’s is red — and renovation efforts revealed mosaic tile floors, which have been worked into the design scheme.  

The museum galleries are open 24/7/365, and — if the Louisville hotel is any indication — there will be regular programming regarding integrating art into daily life that is open to the public free of charge.   

“Part of 21c’s mission is to extend the programming beyond the boundaries of the building itself to really integrate contemporary art into the community in people’s daily lives,” says 21c’s Chief Curator and Director of Art Programming, Alice Gray Stites. To that end, art is infused throughout the property and even meeting rooms are adorned with the works of internationally recognized artists.  

In terms of what we think of a typical hotel, use of space within the 21c can be ambiguous. Art hangs in hallways, is projected in elevators, manifests as bathroom tiles and otherwise engages viewers in surprising ways. For example, Do-Ho Suh’s glass-encased sculpture of thousands of miniature human figurines is typically installed on a floor for visitors to walk on. In this case, however, “Floor Module Table” is elevated for ease of viewing and addresses the dynamics of space as well as issues of labor and leisure — central to the act of staying in any hotel. 

Danish artist Astrid Krogh’s three-part fiber optic tapestry, “Lightmail,” glows with iridescent strands that constantly change within the nine-story interior solarium — and the bean bag chairs below encourage visitors to sit back and enjoy the show. Positioned on the walls of a busy hallway between the elevators and public restrooms, George Legrady’s large-scale lenticular photographic prints appear to be in motion, changing and shifting as you approach, and evoke the human urge to act as voyeur.

Between the first floor art gallery and the aptly named, hotly anticipated Metropole Restaurant — helmed by Michael Paley, the executive chef of Louisville’s Proof on Main — 21c Museum organizers have installed a collection of camel-related ephemera acquired by Brown and Wilson from the former building managers, Melvin and Johanna Lute. The two began collecting the hump-backed dromedary when they lived in the penthouse apartment, and the exhibition of their collection provides a tangible example of how pervasive art can be in our everyday lives. For an organization that values preservation, it is also a small yet important nod of acknowledgement that this space was once much different. 

While it’s hard to quantify change in a city — an organism that is ever evolving — seeing the visible transformation of a building like the Metropole Hotel can demonstrate that a new beginning is afoot. Art has the power to not only enrich people’s daily lives but to build bridges between visitors who share the belief that art can support revitalization efforts. For Cincinnati’s sake, let’s hope 21c can be a new beginning for the Metropole as well as add a new layer of programming for downtown’s existing arts organizations and be a powerful catalyst and econimic driver for change. 

Female-owned businesses revitalize the East Walnut Hills shopping district.

Something interesting is happening in East Walnut Hills. And it’s not just that this once-rundown neighborhood — often forgotten when discussing ‘hood “hipness” in favor of communities such as OTR, Hyde Park or Northside — is experiencing its own urban revival. It’s that the growing business district of Woodburn Avenue is almost entirely powered by women.

Women have been ruling the East Walnut Hills business scene for years with their salons, art galleries, boutiques, fitness studios and more. And since last fall alone, at least five new female-owned Woodburn storefronts have opened, with more in the offing.

“I believe in energies,” says Annie Bolling, who opened the PAC Gallery on Woodburn in 2009 and yoga/Pilates studio, Clear, next door in 2011. “When I would drive down Woodburn, I felt like this place was on the verge. The potential was there. I could see the storefronts filled and people walking up and down the street.”

Officially incorporated in 1866, East Walnut Hills became a destination neighborhood post-Civil War for wealthy urbanites who had easier uptown access thanks to newly built streetcar lines. However, as with many urban neighborhoods in the late 20th century, decay and crime slowly crept in as the suburbs boomed and longtime small businesses closed up shop. These days, however, a combination of factors — including the recession — has inspired creative, entrepreneurial Cincinnati women to step up to the plate and make this charming, historic neighborhood their own.

For example, Bolling opened PAC to address her desire to bring contemporary art to the Cincy masses; Clear followed as an extension of her side job doing private fitness training. Catherine Meguire wanted to feel more connected to her half-French side while living stateside, so in 2011 she opened Le Bon Vivant, a local source for all things French. An opportunity created by the closing of MoCa cafe opened the door for Sandy Vierling to debut Cafe DeSales in early 2012. High online sales traffic from Cincinnati to North Carolina clothing boutique Oomph inspired Arien Agurs to launch a second location here. And finding a modern space that could combine the practicality of a salon with the aesthetics of a creative space attracted Parlour owner Jessie Hoffman to her Woodburn storefront.

East Walnut Hills’ mix of affordable rentals and stately old homes appeals to a diverse group of residents, from young singles and couples to seniors and everyone in between. As the younger generation continues to buck old trends — staying in the city instead of fleeing to the ‘burbs, and holding off on new home and car purchases — creating and maintaining opportunities for neighborhoods like East Walnut Hills to thrive becomes even more vital.

“I’m a city mouse,” Meguire says. “I love the idea of seeing these marvelous old neighborhoods being brought back to life.”

That life is most evident once every six weeks when Woodburn lights up on a Friday evening for the Walk on Woodburn. Organized and promoted by Manifest Gallery and Shawna Guip of Hi-Bred vintage, the walk combines art, food and shopping for a more laid-back alternative to downtown’s Final Friday scene.

“The collaborative mentality is in right now, and it has proven to be successful,” Bolling says. “We are including our community, not excluding them. There’s stuff for everybody here — high end and low end.”

Women own almost one third of U.S. small businesses, and most of those have 10 or fewer employees, according to research by American Express OPEN. With such a high concentration of these small businesses on Woodburn — and with many offering similar products, such as clothing, salon services or art -— you’d think things could get catty quickly. But the women of Woodburn easily defy that tired stereotype; rather than competing, the businesses complement each other, making the street a true shopping destination.

“I think women are survivors, and that sort of attitude lends well to starting your own business,” Bolling says. “We all understand that united we stand, divided we fall. When you put your sweat equity into it, there’s no room to butt heads. What’s good for one store is good for all the stores.”

“Women have courage,” Meguire adds. “We do what we feel we need to do.”

Women-owned Businesses in East Walnut Hills

Cafe DeSales 2835 Woodburn Ave.

Clear 2542 Woodburn Ave.

Hi-Bred 2548 Woodburn Ave.

Le Bon Vivant2801 Woodburn Ave.

One More Stitch1609 Madison Road

Oomph Boutique 2803 Woodburn Ave.

PAC Gallery2540 Woodburn Ave.

Palette Studios 2501 Woodburn Ave.

Parlour2600 Woodburn Ave.

Salon DeSales 2839 Woodburn Ave.

Sole Atelier 2544Woodburn Ave.

StrebelArt2723 Woodburn Ave.

Photos by Jesse Fox

The innovative photographic works of Andy Warhol and Herb Ritts come to Cincinnati.

Two landmark photography exhibitions are on display at two of Cincinnati’s finest art institutions in conjunction with the citywide biennial FOTOFOCUS: Image Machine: Andy Warhol & Photography at the Contemporary Arts Center and Herb Ritts: L.A. Style at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  

Although FOTOFOCUS’ series of photography exhibitions and events take place at galleries, universities, pop-up venues and other non-traditional spaces, the Andy Warhol show at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) and the Herb Ritts show at the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM), both on display through at least December, are the cornerstones of the lens-based art celebration.  

Director and Chief Curator of the CAC, Raphaela Platow, and Chief Curator of the CAM, James Crump, are co-chairs of the FOTOFOCUS committee, so it’s safe to assume the two museum exhibitions — each a representation of an artist who revolutionized the way we look at commercial and fine art photography — will definitely be worth a visit.

IMAGE MACHINE: ANDY WARHOL & PHOTOGRAPHY 

Much has been written about the role art icon Andy Warhol played in developing Pop Art, but until recently not a lot has been studied about his photography, which played an equally major role in his artistic process. And the fact that Warhol is known more for his art prints than his photography is a perfect reason to showcase this part of his oeuvre. Curated by Joseph D. Ketner II of Boston’s Emerson College, Image Machine centers on the snapshots Warhol took as sources for his work in other media, as well as the photographic documentation of the artist’s rich social life.  

Organized with help from the Rose Art Museum, many of the images come from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, which donated thousands of photographs by the artist to educational institutions throughout the U.S. in 2007. Until then, little of Warhol’s photographic output had been studied. 

Viewers of the exhibit will see photographs of Warholian icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy, but also images of Warhol’s friends and other celebrities like Gianni Versace and Cheryl Tiegs. To commemorate the event, and perhaps remind visitors of the CAC’s legacy as an early supporter of the artist, the institution will also recreate elements from Warhol’s 1966 exhibition at the center, Holy Cow! Silver Clouds!! Holy Cow!, for Image Machine

Several short, silent, black-and-white “screen tests” filmed at Warhol’s Factory will also be on view, and in November, Dean and Britta (of former indie rock band Luna) will perform their album 13 Most Beautiful…Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, a song cycle they were commissioned to write in 2008 for the Andy Warhol Museum. 

HERB RITTS: L.A. STYLE 

Curated by Paul Martineau for the J. Paul Getty Museum, the CAM’s exhibition, Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, presents fashion photographer Ritts’ iconic black-and-white images, which, like Warhol’s, often feature the artist’s celebrity friends.   

Ritts revolutionized the depiction of the nude, in spite of the fact that many of his clients were fashion designers, and his boldly contrasted photographs and videos helped define the look of West Coast photography. He treated the human body like a Greek sculpture, making his work simultaneously modern and classic. And he separated his work from that of his New York-based peers by capturing stark contrasts of light and dark in beach and desert locations in the bright wash of California sunlight. 

Ritts’ friendships with celebrities such as Cindy Crawford, Madonna and Richard Gere helped his career, and in return his photographs helped make them stars. A rundown of his artistic production and photographic subjects during the 1980s and 1990s reads like a veritable who’s who of pop culture icons.   

In 1981, Ritts took the photo for Olivia Newton-John’s Physical album cover; five years later he nearly recreated it with Madonna’s True Blue album. In 1989, Ritts began making music videos with Madonna’s “Cherish” single and continued with Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” and Michael Jackson’s “In the Closet” — all of them shot in Ritts’ iconic black-and-white beach or desert scenes. 

In L.A. Style, expect to see Ritts’ gelatin silver prints, in which the artist emphasizes the athletic bodies of his subjects in outdoor settings — with and without clothing. Ritts’ provocative images paved the way for fashion photography to be more conceptual, and, like Warhol, he helped bridge the gap between fine art and commercial photography.  

Twenty-two years since the Mapplethorpe battle in Cincinnati changed the conversation around contemporary photography, our city comes alive again with artists who made their reputation bucking social and aesthetic conventions. Make certain you get the chance to experience both of these photography exhibitions before they close. 

Image Machine: Andy Warhol & Photography is on view at the Contemporary Arts Center through Jan. 20, 2013, and Herb Ritts: L.A. Style is on view at the Cincinnati Art Museum until Dec. 30, 2012.

Discover the haunted history of downtown Cincinnati.

Halloween is the perfect time for all things creepy and terrifying, and the only thing scarier than listening to a ghost story is experiencing one for yourself. If you’re feeling brave, The Queen City is Haunted walking tour has both. While a ghostly encounter isn’t guaranteed, the stories and suspense along the way are enough to chill anyone to the bone.

American Legacy Tours, which runs the Queen City is Haunted tour, invites you to (according the details of the tour on their website), “Discover stories of ghastly murders and gruesome deaths. Linger … in the halls of an archaic building teeming with paranormal activity, and walk the grounds where human remains have been recently unearthed.” 

Compared to American Legacy Tours’ other haunted and historical tours of Newport and Covington, the Queen City tour is rumored to have the best chance of witnessing some kind of ghostly event. According to Jerry Gels, marketing director for the group, about 75 percent of the time, Queen City tours have at least one person experience something otherwordly, whether it’s an unexplained noise, apparitions, lights going on and off or even being touched by something you can’t see. 

The roughly two-hour tour starts at the Cincy Haus on Vine Street, where tour guides give a little background information about Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine, which is supposedly Cincinnati’s most haunted neighborhood due in part to its rich and varied history. 

According to the guides, American Legacy Tours expressed interest in starting a walking ghost tour in OTR at a meeting with Over-the-Rhine businesses. As the guides put it, they were laughed out of the meeting. A few days later, however, the emails started pouring in from the business owners and OTR residents who suspected paranormal activity. The American Legacy group sorted through the reported incidents, picking out the locations that were most likely to produce actual hauntings. According to Gels, they spent lots of time researching potential stories and the reasons behind the reports, and even brought a psychic to several of the locations to confirm the presence of spirits. 

The Queen City tour combines the best of Cincinnati’s creepiest true stories — from the old Cincinnati Medical College’s shady reputation of digging up bodies for doctors to dissect to the gruesome discovery of human remains made while renovating parts of Music Hall — with recent reports of ghostly incidents, all told to eerie perfection. The tour takes a route that highlights the finest fearfest OTR has to offer, starting on Vine Street by the building that houses MiCA 12/v. It was here that James Hoskins, the self-described terrorist who took the WCPO newsroom hostage in 1980 before committing suicide, murdered his girlfriend; She supposedly still haunts her apartment. 

Then the tour passes through the new Washington Park and past the notoriously haunted Music Hall, which was built on top of a paupers’ graveyard. According to the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, the location has produced ghostly sightings ranging from the spirit of a child in 1800s period dress to a waving apparition in the orchestra box to unearthly music in an elevator shaft. 

And then the tour winds its way back onto Vine Street for the grand finale: a chance to enter a haunted building. The old “Warehouse” nightclub is where most of the creepy happenings on the tour occur, if anything does happen. 

The tour group has experienced many ghostly encounters in the past, from seeing orbs in pictures to hearing voices and feeling ghostly hands. One tour-goer was even scratched by an unidentified entity in one of the buildings during the tour. And if you really want to freak yourself out, check out the Northern Kentucky Paranormal Society’s investigation on the building. 

Gels used to doubt the existence of ghosts, but after going to investigate hauntings with the psychic, hearing about the things that happened on the tours and several encounters seeing actual ghosts, he is now fully convinced that ghosts are real. 

Whether you’re an amateur ghostbuster or a total skeptic, the tour provides an interesting lesson in Cincinnati’s history. And, who knows, maybe you’ll experience something that will change your mind completely.

A handy guide to shopping local.

Buying local helps your community, your economy, your neighbors … and your wardrobe.

According to buycincy.com, every dollar you spend at a locally owned business generates almost three times more local economic activity than a dollar spent at a big box store. By supporting local stores, you’re also keeping jobs in the community, and leaving a smaller carbon footprint. And local boutiques? They offer the added bonus of cute and original clothing and accessories hand-picked for wear in our city.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite local boutiques. So next time you need a cocktail dress or some wow-me shoes, grab this and think unique and boutique instead of “mall.” And if those pesky boutique price points scare you, don’t worry, most of the stores are more affordable than you think — and even boutiques have sales.

Alligator Purse Sophisticated and edgy contemporary women’s clothing. 2701 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-6171, shopalligatorpurse.com.

Amy Kirchen Boutique High-end clothing and ready-to-wear from this local designer. 125 Main St., Milford, 513-238-1391.

Arte Nouvelle Clothing, jewelry and accessories from unique designers. 3445 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-841-2783.

Cha Cha’s Paintings, jewelry, apparel, vintage and accessories. 3156 Linwood Ave., Mt. Lookout, 513-533-9111.

Chez Renee European clothing boutique for women. 8181 Camargo Road, Indian Hill, 513-271-2689.

Couture Couture Contemporary women’s clothing boutique. 1315 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-8900.

Curvy Cuties’ Boutique Trendy, affordable plus-sized clothing and accessories — new and gently used. 740 Lila Ave., Milford, 513-248-2878.

Fabricate Store/gallery hybrid featuring unique handmade and upcycled art, crafts, clothing, beauty products and more. 4037 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-407-6057.

Fetish Fashionable clothing, jeans and accessories. 3451 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-0004.

HighStreet The award-winning design studio also offers women’s clothing and accessories. 1401 Reading Road, Downtown, 513-723-1901, highstreetcincinnati.com.

Kate Latest designer fashions, accessories and gifts for women and girls. 2732 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-8333.

Kennedys Unique vintage-inspired shoes, accessories and handbags. 7129 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-271-9888.

Kismet Eclectic women’s clothing and accessories — including shoes. 2037 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-871-78879.

Khakis Brands like Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, Jack Rogers, Southern Tide, Milly and many others. 3434 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-1212.

Mannequin Boutique Women’s used vintage and upscale consignment boutique where proceeds from sales go directly to seven local service agencies including the FreeStore FoodBank, Tender Mercies and Lighthouse Youth Services. 1405 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3777.

Monkee’s Trendy women’s shoes, clothing and accessories. 6928 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-271-0038.

Morrison & Me The only haute couture shoe store in Cincinnati offering shoes, bags, clothing and accessories. 2643 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-232-7463.

The Mustard Seed Boutique New and resale vintage, designer and local consignment shop. 311 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-4022.

NVISION Fun, affordable vintage clothing, rotating art shows and home furnishings alongside handcrafted, redesigned or repurposed items by local artists and designers. 4577 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-4577, nvisionshop.com.

Ottoman Imports A global bazaar of fashion from hand-beaded bags and clothing ranging from casual to evening. 609 Main St., Covginton, Ky., 859-231-9555.

Pangaea Trading Co. Eclectic women’s jewelry, apparel, shoes and more. Sister store of Kismet. 326 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-751-3330.

Pink Tulip Club The latest trends in clothing and accessories from coast-to-coast. 9399 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-878-5552.

Sara Benjamin’s Fashion-forward, fresh clothing and accessories.6810 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-272-2280.

Sloane Boutique Mix of American and European clothing and accessories catering to the edgy, urban woman. 1216 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,513-579-8111,sloaneboutique.com.

Soho Boutique Well-edited selection of high-end dresses, separates and shoes. 2757 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-6930,shopsohoboutique.com.

Tantrum Store for the urban family including clothes, scarves, jewelry and stuff for mom. 4183 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-4183.

Three French Hens Eclectic trend-based clothing, accessories, home decor and gifts. 3444 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-1161; 118 N. Fort Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas., Ky., 859-781-9600.

Trend Boutique Unique fashion at a moderate price. 2946 Markbreit Ave., Oakley, 513-351-5574, trendcincinnati.com.

Urban Chick Boutique Large selection of women’s dress and casual attire. They also sell wine and do wine tastings. 6740 Clough Pike, Anderson, 513-233-2445.

The Wardrobe Chic, casual and sophisticated women’s clothing. 6904 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-271-4800, thewardrobecincinnati.com.

The Enright Ridge Ecovillage branches out.

A woman in her late fifties adjusts her straw hat and then places a thumb over the end of a hose, spraying a shower of water over sapling raspberry bushes, which are lined up in a garden plot like products on a shelf. She holds the hose in her left hand and waves to a neighbor with her right.

Across the street, a goat nudges its muzzle through a backyard fence opening. A dog runs from around the corner toward the open fence and starts to herd the goat back inside. 

“Do you need any help?” says the woman in the straw hat. 

“No, thanks. I think he’s got it under control,” says her neighbor, pointing to the dog. 

In Price Hill’s Enright Ridge Ecovillage, the people, animals and backyard gardens have been working in harmony to provide local food to their neighborhood for the past two years. Now, Enright Ridge’s community supported agriculture program (CSA) is reaching out beyond the neighborhood by sharing skills and advice with the broader community. 

“The demand for local produce is bigger than what is satisfied right now,” says Suellyn Shupe, board director of the Enright Ridge Ecovillage and CSA shareholder. “We’re trying to put together a distribution system in Cincinnati where local growers can combine resources to make enough food available.” 

CSA is a neighborhood-based model of farming where shareholders plant, harvest and enjoy the seasons’ produce yields. Shareholders pay an annual fee (which they can offset by volunteering for garden work, bookkeeping or other handiwork) and get a weekly ration of local produce for six months out of the year. In addition to weekly food shares, members learn gardening techniques from each other and get to support an eco-friendly and community-based way of life. 

According to their website, the Enright Ridge CSA was created in 2009 by the folks in the Enright Ridge Ecovillage. It started with 20 shareholders, but now includes 60. This year, the Enright Ridge CSA will feed more than 150 people with food grown from garden plots that cover about an acre of land. 

This summer, gardeners from the Enright Ridge CSA program are collaborating with gardeners at Findlay Market Farms, one of Cincinnati’s many farmers markets, to talk urban farming. The goal is to educate local farmers about urban agriculture practices — which are anything but easy — and to create a food hub in Cincinnati that will promote urban agriculture and make local food available to everyone. 

“To be able to grow a lot of food in such a little space requires expertise,” says Nancy Sullivan, who is also a member of the Ecovillage and Enright Ridge CSA. “It’s a very complicated algorithm. You have to know how much the soil can take, where certain plants work best, and what variations of plants work best in city environments.” 

Enright Ridge is different from other CSA gardens because of its urban location. Most CSA gardens, like Turner Farms in Indian Hill or EarthShares CSA in Loveland, are located in rural areas or in areas that have already been farmed. Since space is limited, Price Hill’s CSA members grow fresh produce in the Terry Street community garden, the community greenhouse and in plots at home. Members agree it’s worth the effort. “If you eat food directly from the garden, it’s just better tasting, fresher and better for you,” says Shupe, who has a garden in her backyard. 

The gardeners at Enright Ridge have been harvesting produce like peppers, tomatoes and radishes since their first plantings, and they are introducing hazelnut, elderberry, peach and plum trees to their gardens this year. Although the Enright Ridge CSA shareholders are primarily from Price Hill, people in Cincinnati who are interested are welcome to participate in the program. Shareholder applications are available online, and rates run from $275-$700 per share. 

And while Enright Ridge welcomes new faces, members also encourage people to consider developing CSA gardens in their own neighborhoods. Shupe says the benefits of having a community garden are bountiful, and the learning never stops. 

“There are three words in Community Supported Agriculture,” says Shupe. “Agriculture, I’ve learned through the years. The other one’s are Community and Support, and they are an important aspect of the whole system.”

As they plant, water and tend their urban crops, Sullivan, Shupe and others look forward to another season of working with and learning from each other -– and their gardens.