Where We Have Worshiped

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

All cities have walking and driving tours to take in the city’s highlights. How about taking a short little trip down memory lane to see where our 184-year-old church has worshiped during its nearly two centuries of existence?

In 1827, the church started as the First Universalist Society of Cincinnati, and over its years of operation has spent time at a number of short-term temporary locations. It has, however, existed for extended periods of time at five sites.

The church’s first long-term home was at the Mechanics Institute of Cincinnati. The church bought this building and renovated it in 1839, but then built a permanent structure on the site three years later. That location is now occupied by the Dixie Terminal building on the west side of Walnut St., between Third and Fourth Streets. The part of this current structure that is occupied by Key Bank in where the church sat.

Dixie Terminal Fourth Street Entrance, early 1900s.

This place of worship was home to our congregation until 1857. At that time, First and Second Universalist Churches merged and the enlarged congregation relocated to a church they constructed on the east side of Plum Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

Plum Street Church Building, Cincinnati.

That property is currently a surface parking lot and is directly across the street from the Plum Street Cafe and a half block south of the Duke Energy Center. That remained the church’s home for about 30 years when the building was sold and the church congregation was housed in temporary quarters for nearly ten years.

Finally, in 1897 they bought land in Walnut Hills and built a new church at 2525 Essex Place. This remained their home for over 60 years. It is located between McMillan St. and William Howard Taft Rd. just west of I-71. The current occupant is the Greater United Faith Global Ministries of Rehobeth Faith Church of Jesus, Inc.

Essex Place Church (former building of the First Universalist Church of Cincinnati)

In the 1960s it was decided to move again, this time to the suburbs, and a nine acre estate was purchased at 5648 Salem Pike. The large residence was used for services, and Bob Booth has reported that the building had nine bathrooms. The first service was held there in May 1968. Our congregation remained at this site until it was sold in 1982. It sits at the corner of Salem Pike and Apple Hill Road and once again is a private residence.

Our home from about 1970 to 1982 at Salem Acres off Salem Road.

Finally, as we recently celebrated, the members built a new church and moved to our present home. The first service was held in December 1985.

Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church, back patio view, 2014