The Crosleys and Our Church

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

Many famous names are associated with Cincinnati. Some examples would be Longworth, Taft, Springer, Rose and Robertson. Certainly among the most prominent would be Crosley.

Powel Crosley, Jr., with enormous help from his brother Lewis, founded WLW and turned it into the most listened-to station in the United States. He also owned the Cincinnati Reds and brought night baseball to the sport forever, made a fortune selling inexpensive radio sets to the general public and then lost most of the fortune in an attempt to market a low-cost, high-mileage car to that same middle class public. His attempt was thwarted by post-war, 10-cent-a-gallon gasoline and cheap steel, but he was certainly ahead of his time in his vision.

Powel Crosley, Sr. was born in Springboro and moved to Cincinnati to practice law after completing his education. He also owned several downtown theaters. He married Charlotte Utz, whose parents were among the early members of our First Universalist Society of Cincinnati.

They raised their children in the church and Powel Sr. served as the legal advisor for the Society. His name appears on several legal documents in our archives. Powel suffered a severe financial setback in the crash of ’96 and the family was forced to live with the Utz’s for a time until they recouped. This event molded his son’s attitudes toward business for the rest of his life.

Powel Jr. eventually married and left the church to attend his wife’s Episcopalian Church in College Hill. The elder Crosleys remained lifetime members of our church until their deaths. Powel Sr. died in 1932, having recouped much of his financial loss and was still working in his law office until just before his demise. Mrs. Crosley lived until 1949. In her obituary it stated that the church on Essex Place was a centerpiece for her life and she remained active there until just a few weeks before her passing.

Image: Powel Crosley Jr.

Image source: Wikipedia.