In the 1800’s Park Hills was still mostly uninhabited – too hilly to farm and too inaccessible for homes. A few houses existed along Lexington Pike, the forerunner of Dixie Highway, and on Old State Road. The only landmark in the area was the Stonewall House, a restaurant tavern built sometime in the mid 1800’s. It served as a stopover point on the turnpike for farmers taking stock to market in Covington and Cincinnati. Later, during the 1930’s, it was remodeled and named the Hotel Hahn.
This photograph, taken in 1890,
shows the old Dutch settlement
that was once located where
today’s Amsterdam Road
intersects Montague Road.
It was called Amsterdam Village.
It was a community unto itself
during the 1800’s, with its own
meeting hall,sauerkraut factory,
and moonshine still.
The development of Park Hills started in the 1920’s, decades after cities like Erlanger, Elsmere, and Crescent Springs were founded. It began in earnest when the Lee, Simmons, and Billiter families bought land and laid out streets. By 1926 homes were for sale on Audubon, Emerson, Cleveland, Park Drive and Rose Circle. The developers proclaimed Park Hills “the most beautiful subdivision property in the country with every city convenience and no city taxes”. Lots were selling for $1,800 and up and homes were selling for close to $10,000.
A charter was granted in June 1927. The first Mayor was Stanley Disque. Joseph Hermes, William Ruef, William
Middendorf and Dr. R.M. Rankin were the Trustees; R.C. Johnson, the Assessor; Thomas Dunn was Marshall and Martin J. Brown was Police Judge. The City contacted the City of Covington for fire protection until 1942 when a Volunteer Fire Department was formed.
In the 1930’s a commercial boom along the Park Hills section of Dixie Highway started what was later to be called “The Gourmet Strip”. Marshall’s Tavern, Nick Behle’s Old Lamp Lighter, Gus Sanzere’s Golden Goose, The White Horse, Chappie’s Tavern, and Blue Star were all popular establishments that brought increased recognition to the area. Today, Szechuan Gardens stands where the Golden Goose once was.
The extensive trolley line connecting Park Hills with downtown Covington, Cincinnati, and many other Kenton County areas was a major advantage of living in Park Hills. Throughout the early years of Park Hills development, trolleys were a convenient means of transportation around the city. Many visitors used them to visit Devou Park. The trolleys continued to run until the early 1950’s when the last cars were finally retired.
The Kentucky Car, built in the 1890’s, finished its last trip in 1950. It was a party car that was rented for weddings, parties, and other special occasions. Its interior was well furbished and finely appointed. It hosted many grand events during the first decades of Park Hill’s history. It now can be seen at the Crawford-Behringer Museum in Devou Park.
Trolley Park was named in honor of the trolley line that ran through it. The stone buildings at each end of the park were once shelters for commuters to use as they waited for the trolley. Trolley Park is now the focal point for various events held in Park Hills, such as the Memorial Day Parade, Easter Egg Hunt, and Pumpkin Parade.
Park Hills currently has a population of approximately three thousand people. The city has its own police department made up of 7 members: A Police Chief, Lieutenant, Sergeant and four Officers. Park Hills also has an outstanding volunteer fire department. A mayor and six councilpersons govern the city. Park Hills also has an active Civic Association and Garden Club.
For more information about the Garden Club contact:
The Park Hills Civic Association plays an active role in planning and coordinating events, fundraising and other efforts to preserve and improve the quality of life in Park Hills.
The citizens of Park Hills are proud of their beautiful city. Because it is a small town, its residents tend to be friendly and close-knit, who work together for the betterment of the city and its residents. Many of the beautiful homes are being considered for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
All photos courtesy of the Kenton County Public Library