Tunnels, Malt Ovens and Historic Bars – CPC July Meetup

Last Tuesday on July 22, 2014, the Cincinnati Preservation Collective met downtown for our monthly meeting at Washington Platform, located at the corner of Court and Elm Streets.

History of Washington Platform

A Place for Beer from the Start

Built in 1860, the building—first called the Johan Armleder Wine and Lager Beer Saloon—operated as a saloon, and was named after its German manager. It had a prominent position near the south bank of the “Rhine,” the Miami-Erie Canal (now Central Parkway). The west room of the current restaurant was the original bar, and there was also a dance hall on the second floor (that later caught fire). In 1875, after Armleder’s death, the building changed owners, and Fiedel Bader named the space “Washington Platform” due to the proximity of Washington Park and Washington Square and the aptly-named Washington Platform that was just up the street for the aforementioned Miami-Erie canal. Following a series of owners, Washington Platform was purchased by the John Hauck Brewing Company in 1912. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, the saloon also served as a meeting space for local civic and community groups, such as Deutscher Pionier-Verein, the German Pioneer Society.

Weathering Prohibition

Like many American businesses, Washington Platform weathered the Prohibition era poorly. Ingeniously used as a produce shop, a laundry facility, and numerous other business ventures; the space created as a bar ceased to function as one for many years.

A Comeback

In 1986, though, Washington Platform Saloon and Restaurant came back into being. The owners, including current chef Jon Diebold, sought to restore the space to its original turn-of-the-century feel and look: in addition to using historically accurate furniture, fixtures, and material culture – they added a wooden bar. They procured and installed this piece from the Dixie Dance Club in Louisville, and it now serves as the main bar space and a wonderful example of historic preservation in Cincinnati. In 1990, owners added another room, the Canal Room, as a new dining space. At some point Jon and his team discovered that below even the basement level, that shallow malt oven existed where the John Hauck Brewing Company constructed for their brewing operations.

Cincinnati Preservation Collective is grateful to Washington Platform for letting us use their space to host our CPC July Meetup. We were especially excited to hear Jon Diebold explain much of this history to us and even to give us a guided tour of the beer tunnels.

Credit to Alyssa McClanahan for the research and Nancy Alli Yerian for photos.

John Blatchford


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