On Saturday, September 15th, Chatfield College will open its doors for an open-house as part of the Open Doors project, hosted by Ohio History Connection. Located at the intersection of Liberty St. and Central Parkway, the Over-the-Rhine (OTR) campus will be open to visitors between the hours of 9 am and 11 am.
Chatfield College is named for Sr. Julia Chatfield, foundress of the Ursulines of Brown County (Ohio) who arrived in America from France with 10 other Sisters in 1845. They opened the first Ursuline school in this part of the country that same year in Brown County, Ohio. Today, Ursuline Academy, St. Ursula Academy, and St. Ursula Villa, as well as Chatfield College, trace their roots to Sr. Julia. The Ursuline Sisters of Brown County taught at many local public schools, operated a high school, boarding school, summer camps, and a college for members of their own community. Chatfield College was founded in 1971, when classes were opened to the public and the school received its initial regional accreditation. Chatfield offers the associate degree in liberal arts, and maintains articulation agreements with over 70 four-year colleges who accept credits earned at Chatfield towards students’ bachelor’s requirements.
For the first couple of decades, most of Chatfield’s students were Appalachian. When that population began moving to Cincinnati, specifically Lower Price Hill, The Urban Appalachian Council invited Chatfield to open a location there. Chatfield operated for several years in a church basement in Lower Price Hill. After outgrowing that facility, the school moved to a vacant Catholic grade school in North Fairmont, where a more diverse student population was served. In 2006, Chatfield College moved to the old Globe Furniture building annex near Findlay Market, where the student population reached approximately 75, the majority of whom were women, many with dependent children.
Enrollment steadily increased over the next half-decade, and Chatfield decided to invest in Over-the-Rhine by purchasing and rehabbing a building close-by that would satisfy the need for continual growth, and still be easily accessible for those who walk to campus or travel by bus. In 2012, Chatfield purchased a vacant building on the corner of Central Parkway and Liberty Street, where its new OTR campus now resides. The new location is steeped in history. In 1870, the Windisch-Mulhauser/Lion Brewery Company built a brewery in Cincinnati. Included in their grand plans was a stable where they would raise horses used to haul draft beer wagons. Hooks used to tie up the horses are still visible on the outside of the building!
In 1923, the Cincinnati Association for the Welfare of the Blind, now known as the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, bought the building and added a large addition to the south to accommodate its office and to establish a new business – a broom factory, that would employ scores of men with visual impairments. This facility operated in OTR for the almost 50 years.
After the broom factory had shut its doors, the building was bought by a printing company and used as a production facility. By the time Chatfield purchased the building, it had been vacant for almost seven years.
The new Chatfield campus had to undergo a major renovation to accommodate students, faculty and staff. Chad Edwards of emersion DESIGN was selected as the architect to transform an empty, crumbling, windowless facility into a modern and efficient space for teaching and learning.
After obtaining federal historic tax credits, and securing sufficient donations to cover the cost of the $3.5 million dollar project, the new campus was completed in 2015 and opened its doors to new students that August. Since then, the building and its design have won numerous preservation and design awards.
Chatfield encourages the public to stop by on Saturday, September 15, between the hours of 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM to learn more about the history of the building. Before-and-after photos will be available to show the transformation of the historic building from broom factory to state-of-the-art college campus. Mr. Edwards will be on hand to describe his vision for the project and the work that went into making it a reality. Chatfield staff will be available to give tours of classrooms, the BASF science lab, faculty and staff work areas, common areas, and St. Angela’s Chapel. Reservations are not necessary, but an rsvp would be appreciated. Call 921-9856 ext. 227 to let us know you will be coming.
Chatfield College is a private, faith-based, liberal arts college offering the Associate of Arts degree in Brown County and Cincinnati, and is an open enrollment college. The Brown County campus is located at 20918 State Route 251; St. Martin, OH 45118; the Cincinnati campus is located in historic Over-the- Rhine at 1544 Central Parkway; Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, visit the website, at www.chatfield.edu, call (513) 875-3344 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.