GREENHILLS CENTER
Eswin and Endicott Streets 
Greenhills, Ohio

Greenbelt, Maryland was the first of 3 New Deal-era green suburbs. The first business in GREENBELT CENTER, its commercial and administrative core, opened in December 1937. 

GREENHILLS CENTER, the hub of Greater Cincinnati's Greenhills garden suburb, commenced operation in July 1938. Business began at GREENDALE CENTER, at the heart of Greater Milwaukee's Greendale community, in September 1938.  

Greenhills was built on a 5,900 acre site, lying 12 miles north of Cincinnati's Fountain Square. The planned city was situated in an unincorporated section of Hamilton County known as Springfield Township.

A 7.2 acre plot, in the middle of the Greenhills town site, was developed as GREENHILLS CENTER. Originally envisaged as a U-shaped complex of approximately 70,000 square feet, it was to be anchored by a large movie theater.  

The shopping hub was to be predominantly 2-levels, with small sections having 3. Its major innovation was a huge rear parking lot that accessed inward-facing basement-level stores. The main shopping concourse of outward-facing stores would be accessed from an upper level parking area. 

GREENHILLS CENTER is often cited as Ohio's first suburban-style shopping center. The Co-op Food Store, its first operational tenant, opened on July 11, 1938. The Co-op Food Store was soon 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. 

As a result of a 1936 ruling, America's progressive New Deal green suburbs were deemed unconstitutional. Federal funding dried up, requiring that various concessions be 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 it had originally been proposed in 1936. 

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

Stores and services during the mid-20th century included the aforementioned I.G.A., plus Reder & Boerger Appliance, Coin-Op Laundry & Dry Cleaning, Burnside Jewelry, Greenhills Shoe Repair, Greenhills Furniture, Co-Op Drugs, Greenhills Bakery, Green Hills Barber Shop and Gil's Variety Store. A freestanding Albers 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 had begun to falter. At its height, the complex had housed 60 stores and services. As the years passed, there were more and more vacant store spaces.

GREENHILLS CENTER was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 1989. Its most recent renovation was done in the 1990s, when new facades were installed on upper level storefronts. 

Some stores and services still -or recently- in operation include AmeriStop Food Mart, Christy's Beauty Salon & Boutique, Dollar General Store, Green Hills Barber Shop, Green Hills Branch Library (Hamilton County), The Creamy Whip ice cream, The Village Troubadour coffee shop and a US Post Office. 

Sources:

Library of Congress /Prints and Photographs Online Catalog /  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/
www.historyinyourownbackyard.com
"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
www.cintilibrary.org
"The Planning Theory of Greenhills" / Frederick E. Lutt / University of Cincinnati term paper / 2005 
http://buildingcin.blogspot.com