September 2009

Exploring Cincinnati
Exploring Cincinnati

Exploring Cincinnati

Exploring Cincinnati
Photography by Sherman Cahal, Craig Moyer and Ronny Salerno
October 3 – November 19, 2009

Please join us for an opening reception
Friday, October 2, 2009, 5 – 8:00 p.m.
The Betts House, 416 Clark Street, Cincinnati

The Betts House is two blocks west of Music Hall just off Central Avenue. Parking is available on Central Avenue or in the Music Hall garage.

A map is available at The Betts House.

If you need additional information, contact Julie Carpenter at BettsHouseRC@fuse,net or 513-651-0734.

Indiana Army Ammunition Plant
Indiana Army Ammunition Plant and World War II

This is one part of a series on the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, covering the history of the plant pre-World War II and through the war.

The Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) was spurred by the passage of the first National Defense Appropriations Act. Four days later, the Munitions Program was passed, in which the U.S. Ordinance Department sponsored private manufacturing corporations to design and produce ammunitions factories, producing smokeless gunpowder and other ordinances.

Speculation led up to the selection of the Indiana site as the potential home of an ammunitions factory. The Louisville Courier-Journal announced in July 1940 that the world’s largest smokeless powder plant would be constructed on the site of pioneer cemeteries, historic houses, homesteads and churches, and the former Rose Island Amusement Park that featured little resistance from those affected. The owners of the land accepted that the loss of their properties was a sacrifice to the foreseeable cost of war. The facility would be the largest plant in the Industrial Operations Command, containing 1,401 structures on 9,790 acres, although the figure would total much larger.

Constructed on 19,200 acres, INAAP included the Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 1 (IOW1) that produced smokeless powder, the Hoosier Ordnance Plant (HOP), also referred to as the “bag plant,” and the Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 2 (IOW2) that was referred to as the “rocket plant.”

Construction began on August 26, 1940 under E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and just three months later, over 10,000 workers had been employed in the building of IOW1. At the height of construction in May 1941, there were 27,520 workers employed in the building of the plant. IOW1 was completed in May 1942.

IOW1 contained 800 buildings that were divided into four main areas. The administration area included a main administration building, telephone exchange, hospital, repair ship, cafeteria, guard headquarters and office space. The smokeless powder manufacturing area included six parallel, nearly identical manufacturing lines that included two power plants, blending towers, two Ammonium Oxidation plants, and two Nitric and Sulfuric Acid Concentration plants. Further south was the storage and shipping area that included approximately 100 above ground magazines, road ship houses and road storage and shipping houses. Towards the Ohio River was River Ridge, a collection of 19, two-story, wood-frame houses.

On January 10, 1941, construction began on the Hoosier Ordnance Plant (HOP) and was partially in operation by September; construction was finished on February 2, 1942. The load, assembly and pack facility was used to prepare cannon, artillery and mortar projectiles and integrated five distinct areas. The administration area included a main administration building, a main change house and a hospital, and the production, maintenance and storage area contained a bag manufacturing building, inert stores warehouse, a repair shop, a fire station and a heating plant. A charging area contained 8 load lines for bag loading smokeless powder and 4 igniter lines for bag loading black powder, whereas the powder magazine area contained 177 earth-covered, steel-reinforced concrete igloos. At River Ridge, an additional 17 two-story wood-frame houses were constructed.

Construction on Indiana Ordnance Works Plant 2 (IOW2), a rocket propellant plant, did not begin until late 1944. Although production did take place for approximately five weeks, the plant was never completed before the surrender of Japan in August 1945. Construction stopped on August 13.

In total, the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant contained 19,200 acres, 1,700 buildings, 84-miles of railroad track, 190 miles of road and 30 miles of fence and cost $133.4 million to complete.

IOW1 began producing smokeless powder and black powder to HOP and other load, assembly and pack operations on April 11, 1941. Single-base smokeless powder was used as a propellant for a projectile, while black powder was used to ignite the smokeless powder. By July, IOW1 had produced twice as much powder as the entire nation had the previous year.

Below are photographs depicting some of the history of INAAP and of the HOP and IOW2.

5,000 Photographs Later

Abandoned has hit a milestone today. This morning, I uploaded the 5,000 photograph to this site, filed under the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant. This could not have been possible without the assistance of so many over the years, and to them, I am eternally grateful.

Standby status since the Vietnam War and decommissioned since 1992. The only such plant of its era still in its original condition that has not been demolished or modified.

First German Reformed Church
First German Reformed Church

Constructed in 1850 as the First German Reformed Church along Freeman Avenue, the house of worship was constructed with a front limestone exterior with the remainder in brick, a limestone-fronted steeple, and a bay of four large, stained glass windows on the southern and northern front of the building. A parsonage was constructed in the lot to the south of the church, fronting Findlay Street. The church served the West End, a German-American neighborhood, only blocks from downtown Cincinnati.

The church became known as the First Reformed Church in 1918, although it was forced to sell the property after the congregation dwindled as the neighborhood declined in 1970. It became known as the Freeman Avenue United Church of Christ in 1970, which lasted only five years before closing, The property was then transferred to Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, Inc. on November 18, 1993.

What a damn shame about the status of this building. The neighborhood is pretty rough, although I would not characterize it as a goner. Most of the redevelopment efforts have been focused in nearby Over-the-Rhine because of the viability of the building stock, while much of the West End has remained rather stale.

Lafayette Building
One Detroit landmark saved, another one to go

In a surprising reversal of attitude towards Michigan Central Depot in Detroit, Michigan, the historic train station and adjoining Roosevelt Warehouse will stand if for a bit longer after a Detroit City Council Public Health and Safety Committee decided to delay a decision on demolishing the properties. The announcement was a reversal of some April commentary that called for an emergency demolition of the buildings, citing safety and health hazards.

Manuel Moroun, owner of the Detroit Bridge Company and of both affected structures, noted that he needed more time to negotiate with potential developers. He further elaborated that just last month the federal government was expressing strong interest in converting the station into a base for its Homeland Security operations in Detroit.

Only two miles away in downtown, the Lafayette Building may meet the wrecking ball after the Downtown Development Authority voted unanimously on June 25 to demolish the 14-story mid-rise. Vacant for more than a decade and fast deteriorating, the office structure once held offices for the Michigan Supreme Court among for more general functions and purposes.

The building would be landscaped with grass and bushes until such a redevelopment plan could be implemented for the triangular lot. Let’s hope that the lot can be put to better use than the one-story parking garage that replaced the historic Hudson’s Department Store property. Even better, let’s hope that the Lafayette can be fully restored, a cheaper and more viable alternative in today’s market.