The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 brought pioneer settlers such as Judge John Cleves Symmes and Matthew Winton into the wilderness that was to become this neighborhood. Symmes bought hundreds of thousands of acres from the Continental Congress in 1788 for less than a dollar an acre and in turn parceled it and sold it to other pioneers such as William Ludlow and Matthew Winton for almost twice that amount. Symmes was notorious for selling land that was not legally his to sell, but that’s another story.
This area was first known as The Mill Creek Township Farm, owned in 1793 by Matthew Winton, a pioneer Cincinnati innkeeper who, constantly in trouble for selling illegal whiskey at his third street tavern, sold his property and moved to the country.
The Mill Creek valley offered one of the most accessible overland routes into the city and the first transportation system to exploit this was the Erie canal system. The section on Winton Place opened in 1827 and remained functional until it was overtaken by the railroads in 1851. Interstate I-75 now follows the route the canal system once occupied.
The area was renamed Spring Grove, after the avenue of that name authorized in 1841. The Cemetery of Spring Grove purchased its original 167 acres in the area and opened in 1845.
A large portion of the remaining area was laid off in 1865 by Samuel Froome and Sylvester Hand, the then owners of the site. Still called Spring Grove, and with few houses there in 1866 when the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad, now the B.& O., extended its tracks from Loveland across the Little Miami River into Cincinnati. The place became a railroad town when the M.& C. Railroad ended its tracks here and used those of the C.H.& D. Railroad on to Third and Plum streets until its own tracks were laid into the city. A little depot built at the junction of the two railroads was called “Spring Grove Depot.”
In 1872, when the M.& C. Railroad completed its line into Cincinnati, the village boundaries expanded greatly to encompass the rail lines of both railroads and the name had changed from Spring Grove to Winton Place.
In 1891, Cincinnati began to add streetcar service. In order to make the newly built streetcar transportation system financially feasible, an attraction at the far end of its local line was needed. The Chester Park horse track which opened to the public in 1875 along Spring Grove Avenue became that attraction and was later developed around 1905 into an amusement park by the efforts of Abe Martin, the operator of the Orphian Theater on Peoples Corner. In the heyday of the original Chester Park racetrack, the town of Winton Place was also commonly referred to as “Chester Park” and this name was even placed on the signboard of the little train depot. The expansion of the Coney Island amusement park in the 1920′s marked the decline and eventual closure of Chester Park.
In 1879 the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad name was changed to the Cincinnati, Washington & Baltimore Railroad and the junction, ceasing to be a junction, became “The Winton Place StationÓ but the sign remained ÒChester ParkÓ until the parks closure. The town of Winton Place was incorporated June 18,1882. Ten years later the population was 1500 and the town had a town hall, seating 300 persons, a graded school, two churches, a building and loan company, and property was selling there for $1500 an acre.
The first of the two churches, the Winton Place Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1884 on land donated by Mrs. Samuel Froome, widow of the town’s founder and designed by that villages own architect, Samuel Hannaford, designer of many of Cincinnati’s fine buildings, churches and homes. Hannaford, a member of the church, donated his time and talents in its construction. The second church, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church was built in 1887 on land again donated by Mrs. Froome and designed by Samuel Hannaford. A red brick four story school was built in 1888 directly across from the former mansion of Mrs. Jane Froome. In 1912 the school was expanded with the addition of a second Renaissance revival wing along Hand Avenue (formerly Forest Avenue). This addition was also designed by Samuel Hannaford & Sons.
In November 1903, Winton Place was annexed to the City of Cincinnati. To avoid duplication with the city, many of the street names in Winton Place were changed during the annexation.
Although accustomed to flooding each year, the flood of 1913 was unusually high and inundated the lower part of Winton Place including the park. It was exceeded only by the great flood of 1937. Chester Park eventually closed in 1932 and the C&LE line (formerly the C.H.& D) was abandoned in 1939. In April of 1949 the #47 streetcar that serviced Winton Place was converted to the #47 electric trolley car and it’s street rails removed and covered over.
That same year, more economical diesel buses began replacing trolley cars and by June of 1965, the last trolley car and its overhead electric lines were removed. The #47 bus line of today still services the corner of Epworth and Edgewood. With local rail use dwindling, the Winton Place station was closed in 1965 and in 1967 was dismantled and moved to the historic village in Sharon Woods park.
In 1987, the cemetery changed its name to the Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, by then encompassing 733 acres of Winton Place. In 1995, the C&LE railroad tracks that ran through Winton Place and the cemetery were removed and filled in. In 2001, the old stone building at the corner of Spring Grove and Mitchell Avenues that once housed the trolleycars at night was demolished and in 2003, the adjacent stone building that served as the trolleycar repair garage was also demolished.
With the park and railroad station mostly forgotten, this Cincinnati neighborhood returned to being the small nestled community known for over 100 years as Winton Place. And in 2007, the community voted to change the neighborhood’s name to Spring Grove Village, a variation of one of its past monikers.
This information was taken from chapter 56 of Suburbs of Cincinnati by Henry L. Hale as republished in the Cincinnati Enquirer and from the 1984-1989 articles “I Remember Winton Place” published by Willis.R. Butz in the Winton Place Newsletter. Both writers cite information taken from the Williams Directory of 1887 and 1893.