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The History of Our Building....As We Know It

The Building we are in was built sometime around 1850. Some books show as early as 1848 and others show as late as 1856. There are many folk tales about what was in the building at that time. On the first floor (now the restaurant) was originally a hardware store and coal shop. The second floor had a buggy shop. There are remnants of an elevator in the back of the building that was used to get the buggies on the second floor. The elevator shaft is now used as a stairway to the basement.

Downstairs is a basement and a sub-basement. The sub-basement has stone walls with an arched stone ceiling and a dirt floor. Many think at one time a brewery was located in the sub-basement, and as the rumor goes the equipment was completely covered during one of the floods with dirt. We have dug down about 3 feet, and have failed to validate this rumor.

The sub-basement is part of the underground tunnels that connect some buildings in Harrison, which ends at the river. It was used in earlier times to bring in supplies and product from the Whitewater River. Also the tunnels may have been used as part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Supposedly the tunnels have all been closed and ours has been stoned shut.

Approximately 1893, the Independent Order of Oddfellows (l.O.O.F.) purchased the building and owned it for about 75 years. The Oddfellows are a civil group formed to quietly help the community. In 1893 the Oddfellows undertook a major renovation of the building. They changed the main stairway to the second and third floors and raised the roof so that the third floor would have 16 foot ceilings. The third floor was used as a ballroom and a special events hall. It is now an artist studio apartment.

On the second floor there are two units. The Oddfellows used one of the units as a recreational room and kitchen. The other unit was used by the Masons as a meeting room and still has remnants of the tier system management used in addition to a peephole in the door. Both units have been renovated into apartments.

The space that is now the restaurant has been used as many things over the last 150 years. Originally a hardware store, it has also been a home, insurance office, several bars and restaurants, craft shops, and today home to Market Street Grille. The unit was totally razed. The restrooms were moved, the brick exposed in part of the unit, and new flooring throughout. The kitchen had an old barn door in it that was bricked in. The tin tile ceilings were in very good condition in both rooms and were just painted. We added the fireplaces. The one in the brick room was where originally a fireplace was located. The mirror in the brick room came from a restaurant named PFC Harrison and was used as part of their back bar. Originally the mirror was located downtown Harrison in the old Central Hotel, making the mirror over 100 years old.

In the main dining room is an old back bar that was originally in a Price Hill bar called Lyons Den. We stripped and stained the back bar to bring it back to life. The bookshelf next to the fireplace was an original side door. Now there is another building next to it.

In the brick room we have several framed items from the building. A blueprint from the 1893 renovation, an original piece of carpet, wallpaper found in the main dining room, and two outside pictures taken sometime during the late 1800s.

Our name even has historical value. When Harrison was founded its main street was named “Market Street”. In the early 1900’s that street was re-named “Harrison Avenue”.

This is our story, as we know it. If anyone has any updated information, please tell your server or put it on your comment sheet. We are also looking for old pictures either inside or outside the building.

We hope you enjoy your dining experience in our historic building.

Jim & Brenda Leonard and Paula Eggleston



Old Harrison Area New Again

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer - Saturday, November 25, 2000

HARRISON — It anchors the heart of historic downtown Harrison, its brick now painted a hunter green, the entrance to its restaurant highlighted with a burgundy awning. Park benches and potted plants add a dash of color to the front of the building.

The Odd Fellows Building on Harrison Avenue shines. Purchased in 1996 by three siblings, the building, which dates to the mid-1800s, was renovated and restored.

In its new life, it has become the centerpiece of the revitalization in downtown Harrison that started in 1994. The building recently was given the 2000 Preservation Award for excellence in rehabilitation by the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

“The owners physically and spiritually brought the building back to life,” said Gary Richards, executive director of Main Street Harrison Inc. “It's bringing people down here who have never been down here before.”

The Market Street Grille restaurant opened in February, occupying the entire first floor of the three-story building, with its tin tile and brick walls. The second floor was turned into apartments, and the third floor is a loft apartment and art studio rented by artists.

“We saw an opportunity in this area with its growth,” said Adam Walter, proprietor of the restaurant and one of the building's owners, joining his sisters, Brenda Walter and Paula Eggleston. “We're also interested in the history and architecture of the building. We had been planning this for five years, even before we bought the building in 1996.”

At least 12 new businesses have opened in the old downtown area since the summer.

“They said they liked the historic character of the street,” said Mr. Richards. “Also, the rent is cheaper and the space was available. They talk to others and it becomes contagious.”

The MARKET STREET GRILLE in Harrison, although a little more upscale than others, is still a neighborhood favorite in my book. Not too many folks know about this place, but they should.

I discovered it looking for a quick spot to grab lunch and finish some paperwork during the week while in Harrison and was impressed by the friendly service and delicious food. Soon thereafter, I found myself making excuses to do more business west of town.

Tucked in the heart of the business district in downtown Harrison, the Market Street Grille would offer a great spot to end a day of antiquing at local shops. Although I couldn't talk my husband into the antiquing part, I could lure him to Harrison for the Grille's impressive selection of draft beers: Guinness, Bass, a Barrelhouse Nut Brown Ale, Honey Brown Lager and a few others in a full, cold pint for a fair price ($2.50-$3.75).

The menu is much more extensive than most neighborhood spots. Yes, it offers burgers, sandwiches and appetizers, but much more, too. We started with the Chicken Satay ($3.95) appetizer, described as three marinated chicken skewers with Thai peanut sauce. We actually received a plate-sized portion of delicious marinated chicken strips (minus the skewers) and several hunks of fresh bread to soak up the sauce. My Fish and Chips Dinner ($10.95) consisted of three huge beer-battered filets and crispy fries. Although I have yet to find any that can compare with the fish and chips at Nicholson's downtown, I'd rank the Grille's right behind them. And far better than those at a few popular Irish pubs. Soups are homemade here daily and are delicious. Ditto for the salad dressings.

By Annie McManis

Cincinnati City Beat

volume 7, issue 10; Jan. 25-Jan. 31, 2001