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Made in Covington: The Aqua-Cycle

The Aquacycle was covered in a 1949 issue of Popular Science. Via: http://goo.gl/X3nseR Twenty-five year old Phyllis Brawley was installed as a living window display at Cincinnati’s Hotel Sinton on the day of Aquacycle’s debut. Clad in a “beach costume,” the blonde model peddled the newly-patented marine invention that allowed users to propel boats and canoes by foot power. Spectators congregated around the window in such numbers that Cincinnati patrolman, Charles Ray, ordered that the live window display to cease--a proclamation that was met with jeers. Ultimately, the authorities demanded that manager of the Aquacycle Company, Earl Metcalfe, either stop the demonstration or be cited for interfering with pedestrian traffic. Metcalfe, a self-employed business consultant and manager of the Aquacycle Company of Covington, stated that he intended to defy police orders to meet public demand for the demonstration continue the next day. Arguably, their interest was likely inspired more by the visible shins and shoulders of Miss Brawley than the newfangled contraption upon which she was perched. Metcalfe, who lived on a farm in Morning View in southern Kenton County, was not the inventor of the Aquacycle, but was assignor to the company when the trademark was registered in 1948. He was involved with the contraption as early as 1947, when the Aquacycle Company of Covington was chartered and valued at an eyebrow-raising $100,000 (over $1,300,000 today). The design for the “pedal or mechanically propelling and steering mechanism for boats” was the work of Dr. Byrel Billman, a physician of physiotherapy and proctology, educated at the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati. Billman created the Aquacycle as a device to propel and steer boats in places where motorized watercraft were either outlawed or impossible operate. Sportsmen [...]

The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 in Northern Kentucky

We are creeping into that time of the year again: autumn. Autumn is all kinds of fun: pumpkin-flavored everything, apple cider, trick-or-treating, and a crisp, cool air that we are always pining for following the dog days of summer. Cool weather shoos us inside more often than summer, however, and germs are more easily spread in close proximity to others. Cue flu season, that nasty fact of life that persists from roughly October to March. Ninety-eight years ago this month, the country at large was experiencing one of the most severe outbreaks of flu in its history. Cue the constant hand-washing, and stock up on hand sanitizer, because we are about to venture into a brief, local history of the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919. Influenza comes with a slew of uncomfortable symptoms that we also associate with the common cold, but multiplied in intensity. Influenza can be life threatening to those with comprised immune systems such as the elderly and very young. Between three to five million severe cases of influenza occur each year throughout the world, with death tolls from the flu, or complications from it, ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide (1). Some years, however, the primary strain of influenza is particularly virulent and panic-inducing: for example, the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009. The fall of 1918 happened to bring with it one of those flu strains, and was quite possibly the largest outbreak of disease in the 20th century United States. Panic Ensues The Public Health Service began requiring states to report cases of flu starting on September 27, 1918, coincidentally the date that influenza is estimated to have arrived in the state of Kentucky (2). The first newspaper reported death [...]

Licking Riverside Historic Walking Tour

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP3aw2E0r2Q An eclectically-styled multifamily home on Garrard. Look for the two decorative panels with owls on the facade. Perhaps you’ve driven through Covington’s Licking Riverside neighborhood many times, but have you ever taken the time to stroll along tree-lined Garrard Street or admired the slate shingles and ironwork on the homes of Greenup Street? This summer, the Local History and Genealogy department is presenting weekly tours that highlight the structures and stories of this historic neighborhood. The Licking Riverside Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The district has many examples of different types of historic architecture that date from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century. The tour passes homes of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Bungalow, and eclectic Victorian Vernacular styles. Over a hundred years of architectural history often mingle on a single picturesque block. This victorian vernacular home on Greenup has Queen Anne inspired detailing such as the fish scale wall cladding and asymmetrical profile. Licking Riverside has been home many of Covington’s elite, including legislators, local political figures, doctors, and mayors. Many of the beautiful homes were also built as multifamily residences, apartments, and duplexes. It is also the home of the historic Covington Ladies Home at 702 Garrard, which was built in that location in 1894. Education and the arts are also prominent in the neighborhoods’ history. The Rugby at 622 Sanford Street began as Reverend William Orr’s Covington Female Seminary. Founded after 1856, the current building at 702 Greenup that was once La Salette Academy. Down the street, the Baker Hunt campus includes the former Covington Arts Club building and still continues the tradition of art instruction today. Along [...]

Craig Street Burying Ground: Gone But Not Forgotten

From the City Atlas of Covington, Kentucky 1877 on page 22. Atlas is available in the Local History and Genealogy Department. “The cemetery is a memorial and a record. It is not a mere field in which the dead are stowed away unknown; it is a touching and beautiful history, written in family burial photos, in mounded graves, in sculptured and inscribed monuments. It tells the story of the past- not of its institutions, or its wars, or its ideas, but of its individual lives, of its men and women and children, and of its household. It is silent, but eloquent; it is common, but it is unique. We find no such history elsewhere; there are no records in all the wide world in which we can discover so much that is suggestive, so much that is pathetic and impressive.” –Joseph Anderson Autumn is here, and while we listen close for the things that go bump in the night, there is no better way to spend the bright hours of a crisp fall day than a stroll through a cemetery in the fresh October air. If you missed our Linden Grove Cemetery Tour in September, the cemetery is always open until five for a self-guided experience. While it holds great historical significance, Linden Grove is not the oldest cemetery in Covington. Few remember the town’s first graveyard: The Craig Street Burying Ground.  Now an unassuming plot of land, anchored into the background by the 6th Street underpass and zipped shut by the old C&O Railroad Bridge approach, it was once the final resting place of those first to call Covington home. Let us then relate these distant memories, lest we forget something so [...]

Covington Walking Tours Available During #92daysofSummer

The Covington Bicentennial is in full swing and the Local History and Genealogy Department is ready with a new FREE walking tour! Join a member of the Local History and Genealogy Department each Wednesday at 10 a.m. for a tour of the neighborhood around the library. The tour highlights and explores the people who lived in the neighborhoods around the Library 100 years ago in 1915. You'll learn about Covington's northern and southern heritage, architecture, and diverse commercial history. We'll also explore some of the forgotten and lost buildings that once proudly stood in the neighborhood. The tour is roughly a mile long, and comfortable clothing and shoes are recommended. Large groups, and anyone requiring special accommodations should contact the Local History and Genealogy Department a week in advance of the program at 859-962-4070. Here is a sneak peak into one of the stories you'll discover during the tour. The Lovell-Graziani house at 326 E 2nd Street, formerly 174 E 2nd Street Lovell-Graziani House 2015   Benjamin F. Graziani occupied 174 E 2nd Street in 1915. The house dates to the late 1870s, built in French Victorian style by Howell Lewis Lovell, of the tobacco business. Graziani was born in 1858 in Cold Spring, KY, the youngest of nine children to Italian immigrants. His father died in a steamboat explosion when Graziani was only eight years old. He attended Cincinnati Law School and graduated in 1882. In time, Graziani grew to be one of the most prominent attorneys in Covington during the late 19th and early 20th century, often appearing in the newspapers as a “promising young lawyer” at the start of his career. He worked as a criminal attorney, keeping an office building [...]

Covington Library Stats & Stories – One Year Later

Covington Library Stats & Stories – Snapshots of the revitalization of Covington Library One Year Later The Covington Library is one of those unique places. Smack in the center of an urban renewal. It’s one of the few places in Northern Kentucky where you can see people struggling to survive sitting next to a Federal judge. All are welcomed, none are judged. This month marks one year since the Covington Library has been fully operational after a 24 month expansion and renovation. A few questioned the need for expansion; citing books were a thing of the past. That couldn’t be further from the case. Since 2013, the Covington Library has seen a tremendous amount of use and has radically impacted the community and the people it serves. The following is a brief snapshot on how the Covington Library remains relevant not only by providing books, materials and services, but also by being a critical part of the Northern Kentucky Community. Before & After Circulation Desk Stats and stories The Kenton County Public Library records statistics on the fiscal year, beginning July 1 and ending June 30 of the following calendar year. Here is a look at the statistics for the Covington Library for July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014: Circulation of items for adults: 413,076 (up 31%) Circulation of items for children: 92,461 (up 25%) Overall circulation of items including books, movies, music , magazines and more: 505,537 (up 29%) 1,618 programs for adults, teens and children were offered including computer classes, book discussions, job skills education, storytimes, literacy enrichment and more. 37,595 people attended these programs. Volunteers contributed 2,516 hours to the Covington Library, a value of $45,061.56 Staff [...]

Author Jacqueline Woodson to Speak at Covington Library

  Author Jacqueline Woodson to Speak at Covington Library    Acclaimed children’s and young adult author Jacqueline Woodson will be speaking at the Covington branch of the Kenton County Public Library Friday, January 24 at 4:30 p.m. Woodson has won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Newbery Honor Medal (3), the Coretta Scott King Award, the National Book Award, the Caldecott Honor Medal and the Parents’ Choice Award. Her work includes the award-winning “Coming On Home Soon,” “Locomotion,” “If You Come Softly,”  “Our Gracie Aunt,” “This Is the Rope,” “Hush,” “Miracle’s Boys” and many others.   Ms. Woodson’s discussion is free and open to all. Limited parking is available for free on the Library’s lot. The Covington Library is located at 502 Scott Boulevard. Call (859) 962-4060 for more information. For more information on Ms. Woodson visit her website at http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com.    

By |January 22nd, 2014|Categories: Press Releases|Tags: , |0 Comments

Professional Baseball in Covington: They built it but they did not come.

Remember the film Field of Dreams? Kevin Costner's character builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn field because a voice told him to do it. In 1913 here in Covington, KY baseball enthusiasts and businessmen wanted to bring a professional baseball team to the city. Baseball was viewed as a great way to advertise the city. Those working to bring a club here believed the city would be placed on the map after they landed a team. Can you imagine having two different teams to root for like they have in Chicago and New York, it almost happened but it did not last long. At the end of the 1912 season the Blue Grass League lost two teams. The Blue Grass League was a Class D Minor League which had teams in cities throughout Kentucky. In order to fill the two vacant spots the organization set its sights on the river towns of Covington and Newport in Northern Kentucky. The attempt to establish teams in Newport and Covington by the Blue Grass league was blocked by the Cincinnati Reds. As a member of a major league (the National League) the Reds had jurisdiction covering a five mile radius that forced smaller leagues like the Blue Grass League to seek permission from establishing clubs in their surrounding area. Newport and Covington both fell under this five mile radius and Garry Herrman of the Reds refused to let the teams establish on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.   Covington almost missed out on bringing a professional baseball club to the city, but the Federal League was forming in Indianapolis and was looking to establish a team in Cincinnati or Covington. The Reds had [...]

Spooky Stories In Your Own Backyard

Reserve a copy of Kentucky Hauntings Homespun Ghost Stories and Unexplained History by Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown today! Looking to read about ghosts, spirits, phantoms, or unexplained phenomena? Want to read a spooky story about Kentucky or one that originates in your own back yard? Do you think your house may be haunted and want to research its history? Look no further than the Kenton County Public Library. We have numerous local history books and resources filled with haunting tales, ghost stories, and documented unexplained experiences that will give you a good fright just in time for Halloween. If you're thirsting for spooky tales from Kentucky, sink your teeth into Ghosts Across Kentucky by William Lynwood Montell or Ghosts, Spirits, and Angels True Tales from Kentucky and Beyond by Thomas Lee Freese. If you have regional supernatural interests, try Haunted Louisville: History and Hauntings from the Derby City by Robert W. Parker or Appalachian Ghost Stories Tales from Bloody Breathitt by Jerry Deaton. For local hauntings, dare to turn the pages of Cincinnati Ghosts and other Tristate Haunts by Karen Laven, or The Cincinnati Haunted Handbook and Haunted Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio by Jeff Morris and Michael A. Morris. Or, if you don’t find the truth stranger than fiction, A Vampire in Covington by Tim Kelly is a new addition to our Kentucky Fiction collection that incorporates many famous people and locations from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Join paranormal investigators Zak, Nic and Aaron as they investigate the paranormal experiences at Bobby Mackey's Music World. Also, don’t forget to read or re-read books about the widely-known Northern Kentucky haunting of Bobby Mackey’s Music World. Books in our collection include Haunting Experiences at Bobby Mackey’s by Christel Brooks, and the fictional Hell’s Gate: Terror at Bobby Mackey’s Music [...]