Eswin and Endicott Streets 
Greenhills, Ohio

The second operational green suburb commercial center was part of Ohio's Greenhills development. GREENBELT CENTER {in Maryland} had opened in December 1937. The first store in GREENHILLS CENTER was dedicated in July 1938. GREENDALE CENTER {outside Milwaukee} commenced operation in September 1938.  

As dictated by a 1936 plan, a U-shaped shopping complex of approximately 70,000 square feet was to be located 12 miles north of Cincinnati's Fountain Square, in undeveloped Hamilton County. A 7.2 acre site -at the center of the prospective Greenhills city- was chosen for GREENHILLS CENTER. The complex was to be anchored by a large movie theater at its midpoint.  

The shopping hub was to be predominantly 2-levels, with small sections having 3. Its biggest innovation was its huge parking lot that accessed inward-facing basement level stores. The main shopping concourse of outward-facing stores ran along an upper parking level. 

GREENHILLS CENTER, often cited as Ohio's first shopping center, opened the doors of its Co-op Food Store on July 11, 1938. It was joined by a variety store, barber shop, dry cleaner,  drug store (with luncheonette) and co-op gas station. These were all in business by December 1938. The Green Hills Beauty Shop was dedicated in May 1939. 

After a 1936 court case ruled America's New Deal green suburbs unconstitutional, funding dried up. Various concessions were made. At Greenhills, this meant that only half of the prospective shopping center would be built as a first phase. The movie theater would be delayed indefinitely.

The federally owned city, its apartment blocks and GREENHILLS CENTER, were sold on the open market between 1950 and 1954. Soon after the shopping hub changed hands, a construction project got underway to build a north store block and complete the center as originally proposed. 

An anchor space was built in area slated for a movie theater in the 1936 plan. This 2-level structure housed an I.G.A. supermarket on the upper floor and Haynay's Lanes bowling alley in the basement. These were open for business by 1953. 70 percent of the North store block was also built in the early 1950s. The Eswin Building, on the north end of the complex, was dedicated in 1960...completing GREENHILLS CENTER.

Stores and services during the mid-20th century included the I.G.A. Market, Reder & Boerger Appliance, Parchman & Oyer Realty's Gallery of Homes, Coin-Op Laundry & Dry Cleaning, The Hitching Post restaurant, Burnside Jewelry, Greenhills Shoe Repair, Green Hills Furniture, Sherman Real Estate, Co-Op Drugs, Greenhills Bakery, Greenhills Barber Shop and Gil's Variety Store. A freestanding Alber's supermarket, adjacent to the north end of GREENHILLS CENTER, was in business by 1964. 

Smaller retail structures were added to the shopping hub in the 1960s and '70s. By midway in that decade, GREENHILLS CENTER began to falter. At its height, the complex housed sixty stores and services. There would be more and more vacant stores as the years passed. The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 1989.  Its most recent renovation was done to upper level facades in the 1990s.


Library of Congress /Prints and Photographs Online Catalog /
"Opening to the Possibilities" / "A Stroll Down Memory Lane: Who Changed Things?"
"Greenhills (Images of America)" / Debbie Mills and Margo Warminski / Greenhills Historical Society / 2013
"The Planning Theory of Greenhills" / Frederick E. Lutt / University of Cincinnati term paper / 2005