Monday, March 14, 2011

Bach to Bock Brunch and Lecture

On Sunday March 6 I got to enjoy a brunch put on by the Over the Rhine Foundation at Memorial Hall.  The highlight of this brunch was a presentation by Kevin Pape of Gray and Page..the folks that did the excavation of grave sites at Washington Park. 

In case you weren't aware-Memorial Hall was completed in 1908, by a famous local architect, Samuel Hannaford.  I'd been in the building before, as an attendee at a dance in my early college years.  Enough with the introductions, lets get on with some photos!

Here is a picture looking upwards from the bottom of the staircase.

There were a few fun things to note about the brunch.  The first being that a very good friend of mine from high school was a volunteer at the brunch and circulated with a platter of sausage quarters and mustard. 
Here are two photos of the setup for brunch.  They had daffodils in beer steins...

There was a small brass ensemble that I'm told was made up of musicians also in the Sycamore Community Band.

For brunch they served Chicken Struedel (food from Mecklenburg Gardens), saeurkraut, mixed vegetables, fresh fruit, and pretzel rolls with German Chocolate Cake for dessert of course of course.  The chicken struedel was amazing and now I want to experience this Mecklenburg Gardens in person.  I can't believe I've never been there!

No event I attend would ever be complete without a trip to the ladies room.  Look at this lovely marble sink!

After brunch we moved upstairs to the lecture hall.
As you can see from the photo below, the auditorium wasn't exactly packed.   But that's fine.  It meant I got to sit in the fancy 'box seats.'

And a nice photo of the hallway..because its pretty :)  You can't tell from the picture, but there is a European style electrical outlet below the lights.

Reid Hartmann, OTR Foundation Board of Trustees member, introducing Kevin Pape. 

Reid Hartmann
Kevin Pape is a principal of Gray and Pape, the firm that did the excavation at Washington Park.  His lecture was by far my favorite part of Bockfest weekend.
Kevin Pape
Kevin promised a full report after the research is complete and advised us not to take notes...which was when I realized I wished I'd brought something to write with!

Depending on your familiarity with Cincinnati, you may or may not know that the city is undertaking a revival of Washington Park that involves building an underground parking garage.  This is troubling if you are a long time Cincinnati resident, because Washington Park was a cemetery back in the 1800s. 

Kevin informed us that records reported that all bodies had either been moved by loved ones and reinterred elsewhere, or were reinterred by the city in other locations.  He said in 100% of the cases he has worked where records indicate no bodies will remain in a former cemetery...they always find bodies.

Low and behold...when they started to work, they immediately discovered human remains.  I don't recall the exact number, but I believe it was estimated to be between 40 and 65 sets of remains...along with a number of extra hands and feet.  That is frightening...because it means when people moved their loved ones they did not get all the pieces!  Cremation starts to look pretty good when you hear about things like that...

Since all of the headstones had previously been removed, there is practically no way to determine who was left behind in the cemetery.  Kevin talked about looking through the extensive records at Christ Church (I'm pretty sure this was the original name for St. Francis Seraph Church in OTR), but the records did not provide enough data.

They were able to positively identify one set of remains, those of a local actor's son.  I think these were found during an earlier project and were just reburied.  The funny thing about that is...the remains had a headstone buried with them.  When they were exhumed again, the headstone was missing!!  Crazy.

And the last really interesting story that Kevin told was the most intriguing.  They found the remains of a woman buried face down in a coffin with steel spikes that pierced her body, covered with the remnants of a garment that had eyelets.  Who knows what the story is behind that one.  I'm betting it had to do with adultery...You should note that being buried face down is generally a sign of disrespect.

I can't wait to hear the full report once all the research is done!

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