Smitty’s: Then and Now

Smith's Toggery Shoppe in Over-the-Rhine

Just a quick update on Smitty’s, the store on Vine St. which caught fire three months ago — what’s left of the buildings’ facade is the site of a recent Future Blooms intervention. The new painted windows mix almost seamlessly with the vestiges of store signs. The color palette and amount of detail are perfect for this application.

An almost imperceptible comingling of old and new:

Smith's Toggery Shoppe in Over-the-Rhine

Then:

Smith's Toggery Shoppe in Over-the-Rhine

Now:

Smith's Toggery Shoppe in Over-the-Rhine

I’ve previously mentioned my issues with the Future Blooms project by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. Many of the organization’s interventions are candy-colored and, in my opinion, draw negative attention to the abandoned buildings they decorate, in some cases serving as canvases for graffiti. In the case of Smitty’s, the restrained color palette and formal language complement their context well. It’s an appropriate homage to a long-standing Over-the-Rhine business [which I hear will be reopening somewhere nearby]. Kudos!

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5 thoughts on “Smitty’s: Then and Now

  1. I took these photos a few days ago, and it seems that today [today!] most of the signs have been painted over. No more “styles of the future,” no more “big sizes 44 to 70,” and no more “large selection of leather.”

    Now, if Future Blooms’ interventions on old retail facades entail mimicking some of the formal language surrounding actual retail facades, and if Smitty’s has been such an iconic in the neighborhood [I believe it has], then why not simply secure and paint the doors and windows and leave the ghost signs intact? Seriously, why not?

  2. I agree with your comment about leaving the ghost signs intact, Maya. Of course the ‘why not’ is that they (meaning the larger ‘revitalization’ interests) are rebranding the area in a way that is the erasure of the people and the culture that was there before. So no ghost signs; on to the bright, happy, well-scrubbed future. Neither hipsters, the creative classes nor yuppies generally need size 44 suits, you know?

    What irritates me, though, is that 3CDC is buying the property http://www.wlwt.com/money/24373320/detail.html . So why is KCB devoting $$ to this project? If 3CDC wants to ‘creatively’ board up the building, let them do it.

  3. Alexis, that’s a really good point about 3CDC. Maybe I don’t quite understand the mission of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful because, if 3CDC is purchasing the buildings, then doesn’t stabilizing and securing them become their responsibility?

    As for ghost signs and other vestiges of this neighborhood’s history, I’ve been fairly diligently documenting all this for the past couple of years, while generally keeping my mouth shut about what I think about the ways in which, and reasons why, these elements are changing or disappearing. I guess my focusing on these things while ignoring other things has been an indirect commentary of sorts, but I’ll try to gather my thoughts into semi-coherent form in an upcoming post.

  4. One of these days, I may post an update on the old Smitty’s facade. Basically, all of the old signs are gone. On a positive note, though, I’ve just learned that Smitty’s is reopening. Best of luck to them!

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