By Mike Templeton
Cincinnati’s west side riverfront neighborhoods have historically been urban Appalachian neighborhoods. These areas have long been the focus of Urban Appalachian Community Coalition, and studies done by people like Core member Mike Maloney have detailed some of the struggles these neighborhoods still face. Sedamsville in particular has had its share of difficulties. Boldface Park in Sedamsville stands out in this neighborhood as an anchoring point for community. After being neglected for many years, there has recently been some good news as the famous Boldface Park shelter will be restored with the help of Sedamsville native Cody Kincer.
Boldface Park in Sedamsville has a kind of aura to it simply because it is part of the local lore in Greater Cincinnati. Many people know about it because this is the baseball field where Pete Rose played when he was a boy. Some may not actually know the name of the park, but most anyone will drive by it and acknowledge that this is where Charlie Hustle began. Boldface Park actually occupies an important place in Cincinnati history, and it has occupied the position of a community anchor in Sedamsville. Its historic shelter had fallen into decay over the years, and there was, until recently, talk of simply demolishing it. The pool at the park was removed in 2007, and there was no money allocated to maintain the shelter, which had been fenced off from public use since 2018. Now one local resident has stepped up to save the shelter.
Cody Kincer grew up in Sedamsville. His family used to own property on Illinois Avenue directly behind Boldface Park. His family had property in various places around Sedamsville, and his ties to the neighborhood remain strong. After hearing about the potential loss of the Boldface Park Shelter, Cody Kincer got involved. He told me he heard that “CRC (the Cincinnati Recreation Commission) was talking about saving money by demolishing the shelter, and that lit a fire under me.” Kincer said he attended a meeting of City Council City during a budget rollover—a time when they were open to allocating money to projects. Kincer took this as his opportunity to speak up about saving the shelter at Boldface Park, and Council was ready to listen.
Cody Kincer mentioned the fact that Sedamsville has seen more than its share of troubles in the past several years, this is something we discussed in a previous article on Cincinnati’s Western Riverfront Neighborhoods which presented the research of Core member Michael Maloney on the state of neighborhoods such as Sedamsville. Kincer said he knew “developers were looking at the neighborhood.” He and others seem to sense that there was a danger the community itself could be swept away with changes that had nothing to do with neighborhood residents. Saving the Boldface Park shelter became even more urgent.
As of October of last year, CRC allocated over $300,000 to begin repairs to the Boldface Park Shelter. This will take the shelter from its current state of near total decay back to its original grandeur. Cody Kincer said of Boldface Park, “this shelter has been a feature of the community for decades, and it is a gateway to Riverside. It just became so important to me to save it.”
Boldface Park opened in 1918 and was built on an old municipal waste dump. A local businessman and city councilman named Alex Patterson originally led the campaign to create the park. Since them Boldface Park has been a neighborhood anchor in Sedamsville. The park and the shelter served local baseball teams for many years, and as noted above, a young Pete Rose played baseball at Boldface Park. Cody Kincer observed that the restored shelter will make the park appealing to local sports teams and to just about anyone who enjoys the many urban parks in Cincinnati. Kincer said he had been in contact with some local schools about using the baseball fields for their teams. Kincer also pointed out that with the burgeoning Hispanic population on the West Side who are building soccer leagues, Boldface Park and shelter offers a great space for soccer teams. With the restoration of the Boldface Park shelter, perhaps instead of the next Pete Rose, the park will offer up the next Luciano Acosta or the next Megan Rapinoe.
Cody Kincer was quite humble about his involvement in saving the Boldface Park shelter. In his words, “It had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the people of Sedamsville.” He has a humility about him that will not allow him to take as much credit as he deserves. In any case, the Boldface Park shelter will be restored thanks in part to Cody Kincer and other longtime Sedamsville residents.
The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition remains committed to our historically urban Appalachian neighborhoods. It is especially exciting to watch how neighborhoods like Sedamsville change with the times even as they retain the best of what they have always been. The restoration of the Boldface Park shelter opens the way for the 21st century Sedamsville to emerge within a space that has been around for more than 100 years. And it is community engagement that makes these things happen.
Mike Templeton is a writer, independent scholar, barista, cook, guitar player, and accidental jack-of-all-trades. He is the author of the forthcoming The Chief of Birds: A Memoir. Available later this year from Erratum Press, and Impossible to Believe, forthcoming from Iskra Books. Check out his profile in UACC’s new Cultural Directory. He lives in downtown Cincinnati with his wife who is a talented photographer. They spend their free time walking around the city snapping photos. She looks up at that the grandeur of the city, while Mike always seems to be staring at the ground.