Sacred Heart Academy (Cincinnati, Ohio)

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Sacred Heart Academy
Tower at the academy
Sacred Heart Academy (Cincinnati, Ohio) is located in Ohio
Sacred Heart Academy (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Location 525 Lafayette St., Cincinnati, Ohio
Coordinates 39°9′11″N 84°31′38″W / 39.15306°N 84.52722°W / 39.15306; -84.52722Coordinates: 39°9′11″N 84°31′38″W / 39.15306°N 84.52722°W / 39.15306; -84.52722
Area 3 acres (1.2 ha)
Built 1868 (1868)
Architect Samuel Hannaford
Architectural style English medieval castle
Governing body Private
MPS Samuel Hannaford and Sons TR in Hamilton County
NRHP Reference # 73001467[1]
Added to NRHP April 11, 1973

Sacred Heart Academy is a historic former residence and school in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. Built as the home of a wealthy man, it was the location of a Catholic school for most of its history. As a work of a regionally prominent architect, it has been named a historic site.


English immigrant Samuel Hannaford began his Cincinnati architectural practice in 1858 in partnership with Edwin Anderson. This partnership endured until 1870,[2]:10 shortly after Sacred Heart Academy was constructed in 1868.[1] The building was originally a massive house; its first resident, William C. Neff, desired that his home be patterned after the English Kenilworth Castle.[3] Neff's house was one of numerous residences that Hannaford designed for Cincinnati's wealthy, although it predates most others; Hannaford became prominent in Cincinnati and the surrounding region only after designing Music Hall near downtown in 1877,[2]:11 and the Gilded Age at the end of the nineteenth century saw numerous Hannaford houses being constructed in prestigious neighborhoods such as Walnut Hills and Avondale.[2]:10 Neff only lived in his great house for a few years; in 1876, it was acquired by the Academy of the Sacred Heart, which needed to leave its previous location on Grandin Road. The Academy used the property for nearly a century until closing entirely in 1970,[3] but it had remained active among Catholic schools until shortly before the end; in the late 1960s, it became a founding member of the Girls Greater Cincinnati League.[4] During its decades in the building, the school arranged for the construction of multiple additions to the original structure.[3]


Built primarily of stone,[1] the Academy features ashlar walls with a rough appearance. Most parts of the building are two or three stories tall, although the intended English castle appearance is responsible for the presence of a four-story tower. Visitors enter through a portico dominated by pointed arches: both the main entrance and the sidelights employ the design, as does a window placed under the main part of the tower.[3] Such windows, emblematic of the Gothic Revival style, were also used for later construction; they form a crucial component of an attached chapel built during the school's occupation of the building.[2]:9 Inside, hand-carven wood panelling is exceptionally extensive: the Swiss woodworkers whom Neff hired for the purpose required two full years of work to complete the carvings.[3]

Historic site[edit]

In 1973, the academy was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, qualifying because of its historically significant architecture. Seven years later, it was included in a multiple property submission of fifty-five Hannaford-designed buildings in Hamilton County;[1] its previous National Register status, along with that of sixteen others in the submission, was a significant component of the rationale for granting National Register status to the remaining thirty-eight buildings.[2]:12


  1. ^ a b c d "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Gordon, Stephen C., and Elisabeth H. Tuttle. National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Samuel Hannaford & Sons Thematic Resources. National Park Service, 1978-12-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e Owen, Lorrie K., ed. Dictionary of Ohio Historic Places. Vol. 2. St. Clair Shores: Somerset, 1999, 663-664.
  4. ^ History, Girls Greater Cincinnati League, 2008-02-06. Accessed 2014-01-28.

Further reading[edit]