Price Hill was once praised as Cincinnati's most popular and distinctive suburb. It was a neighborhood where one could escape the smells of the city and enjoy the comforts, peace, and prosperity of living in a hilltop resort community. To this day, many descendants of those early residents live, worship, work, and play on that same western hill, Price's Hill.
Like all of metropolitan Cincinnati, the neighborhood of Price Hill was originally part of the great Symmes Purchase. Imagine a wilderness of forest and streams. Many of our hills and bluffs were used as lookout posts against Indians. There is concrete evidence of the early mound builders in the area, as an old Indian mound once stood on the site of the Elberon Heights Country Club, which was established on Overlook Avenue in 1912.
In 1791, William Terry built his log cabin in the midst of a virgin forest that was home to the local Indian tribes. This was probably the first home on Bold Face Hill, named for Chief Bold Face, and the original name of Price Hill. Many early prominent citizens followed, settling on the hill and carving out huge estates from the surrounding wilderness. You may wonder why the name changed to Price's Hill as the area was populated.
General Rees E. Price, after whom Price Hill was named, was born August 12, 1795, the eldest son of Evan Price, a wealthy Welsh merchant, and his wife Sarah Pierce Price, a woman of remarkable beauty. Rees Price is remembered in history as a thoughtful, handsome, hard-laboring man who possessed great strength. On December 9, 1824, he married Sarah Matson, daughter of Judge Matson, and together they raised eight children. Rees invested in land west of the Mill Creek, as his father had done. He built a brickyard and a sawmill and laid out a subdivision. His sons, John and William Price, continued to develop the Mill Creek valley and built the Incline Plane in 1874 with funds provided by their father.
By the time Rees died on June 20, 1877, Price Hill was becoming a thriving community. The new mode of transportation known as the Incline climbed 350 feet over the top of the hill and brought thousands of newcomers to the area. They were heard chanting "Go west, young man," as many wealthy and prominent families realized that this was truly the place to live. It was away from the pork traffic and away from the overcrowded industrial areas, up where the air was clean. The altitude of these western hills reaches as much as 860 feet above sea level.
The Incline, completed in 1874, was the first of many in Cincinnati. The freight line, built in 1876, was the only one in town. There was never a serious accident on the Incline, and the first steam engines continued to provide power without a breakdown. In 1928, electricity replaced steam for operating the Incline. Price Hill's Incline was the only one of Cincinnati's inclines operated with that form of energy. The original cars were name "Highland Mary" and Lilly-of-the-Valley" by William Price, in honor of his sisters, Mary and Lilla Price.
With the operation of the Incline and the horse drawn cars, the area now known as Price Hill enjoyed a reputation as an entertainment center. William Price built the famous Price Hill House, Pavilion, and picnic grounds in 1876. In the 1880's, it was the scene of many elaborate and gay events. People came from everywhere to ride the Incline, dine at the Hill House, enjoy the finest view of Cincinnati to be had, promenade the latest fashions along the boardwalk, watch Jim Jeffries or "Young" Corbett "work out" at the Pavilion, or catch a glimpse of some other notable visiting the area.
The Incline continued to be the chief means of transportation for East Price Hill until it broke down in July 1943 and was abandoned, presumably for good. With the extreme need for transportation for the people there, the East Price Hill Improvement Association came into being. For one evening in July, John T. Gallagher, Frank a Pfister, and Leo B. Honerkamp, discussing the plight of the neighbors, formed this civic association. EPHIA's first problem was to help restore the much needed Incline. EPHIA was one of the earliest and foremost groups to "get behind" Councilman Edward N. Waldvogel and his committee in Council, who led the fight to restore the Incline through it's purchase by the City. With the cooperation of many other such spirited organizations and individuals, Mr. Waldvogel and his committee, which included Councilmen Jesse Locker, Russell Wilson, and John Malloy, finally succeeded after almost two years in bringing this about.
To this day EPHIA's objective is the encouragement and promotion of the civic advancement and improvement of East Price Hill, all of Price Hill, and the Western section of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.