Owl’s Nest Park, on the border of East Walnut Hills, Evanston and O’Bryonville, is a popular gathering place for these communities, and fosters a spirit of the inter-neighborhood cooperation. It is the site of community events like National Night Out with the Cincinnati Police Department and Owl’s Nest Fest, the annual music festival. The park’s 1933 pavilion provides a covered stage for those events. This historic structure also makes an imposing visual statement from Madison Rd., and provides a focal point and backdrop for the lawn.
At its June 30, 2021 meeting, the East Walnut Hills Assembly Board hosted representatives from Cincinnati Parks, the Evanston Community Council, Cincinnati Preservation Association and the Owls Nest Parks Advisory Council to discuss the current status and future of the pavilion in Owls Nest Park.
The demolition of the pavilion, originally scheduled for June 14, 2021, has now been put on indefinite hold. Kara Kish, Parks Director, along with two of the Parks Division Managers, attended the meeting and spoke extensively. The discussion among the attendees lasted for well over an hour and highlighted how beloved Owls Nest Park is in EWH, Evanston and throughout the city. A number of attendees also spoke about the importance of the pavilion as a signature part of the Park.
As a result of the meeting, Ms. Kish asked that a committee of stakeholders be formed to meet directly with the Parks Department to continue the discussion about the fate of the pavilion. It was agreed that the Owls Nest Advisory Council would be reconstituted, with the addition of representatives from EWHA and from the Evanston Community Council. Three EWHA Board members have been appointed as EWH representatives to the Advisory Council.
The structure, designed by the locally prominent firm of Elzner & Anderson, is in poor condition and has been closed for a number of years. See some current condition photos here.
Founded in 1897, Elzner & Anderson pioneered the use of concrete for commercial buildings and was responsible for the design of some of the finest homes in Cincinnati. Their highest-profile commission may have been the Ingalls Building downtown, the first reinforced concrete high-rise office building in the world.
Born in Cincinnati in 1869, George M. (Mendenhall) Anderson studied at Columbia University, Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (he was the first Cincinnatian known to receive a diploma from the esteemed school) and under Louis Comfort Tiffany in NYC. When he returned to Cincinnati, Anderson worked under Samuel Hannaford before teaming up with Elzner.
A.O. (Alfred Oscar) Elzner was born in Cincinnati in 1862 and studied at the Ohio Mechanics Institute and MIT. After graduation, he worked in the Boston office of H.H. Richardson, later supervising the 1886 construction of Richardson’s iconic Chamber of Commerce Building in downtown Cincinnati (destroyed by fire in 1911).
The partners both came from prominent families, which yielded important professional connections that supported their practice, including residential commissions for members of the Taft, Emery, Procter, and Longworth families. Many of the homes built on nearby Annwood St. are fine examples of the firm’s work.
Anderson passed away in 1916 and Elzner in 1933. This pavilion may have been designed by Elzner or by Joseph Nardini, his designated successor. Elzner & Anderson continued practicing under the names of its founders until around 1940.