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  • Harry Hake ArchitectsPreserving the Records of an Eighty-Year Architectural Legacy at Cincinnati Museum Center
  • Scott L. Gampfer

In 1979 the Cincinnati Historical Society Library took possession of a significant donation of architectural materials from one of the city’s oldest and most important architectural firms, Harry Hake & Partners, Inc. The donation consisted of thousands of architectural drawings and sketches, photographs, financial records, computations, specifications, and correspondence relating to hundreds of projects completed by the firm between 1897 and 1978, by three generations of Hakes. This donation complemented existing architectural holdings in the library, but was the largest single donation of such materials the historical society had ever accepted.

Harry Hake, Sr., educated at the Ohio Mechanics Institute and Cincinnati Art Academy, started his architectural career working as a draftsman in the offices of three of the city’s leading architects, William Martin Aiken, Lucien F. Plympton, and George W. Rapp. Hake decided to open his own architectural practice in 1897.1

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Harry Hake Sr. (1871-1955) ca. 1925.


Early in his career Hake received commissions to design buildings for Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company, Globe-Wernicke Company, and numerous other commercial and residential projects. He quickly became chief architect for the Cincinnati Fire Department and Cincinnati Police Department and did remodeling projects and new building designs for engine companies and station houses in neighborhoods throughout the city. In 1906 Hake became the architect for Cincinnati Bell Telephone and did commissions for numerous buildings across Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. The commissions included exchange buildings, equipment buildings and office buildings, most notably the 1913 Cincinnati Bell office building on Fourth Street between Main and Sycamore, and the 1931 Art Deco “Telephone Building” at Seventh and Elm Streets. The Seventh Street [End Page 78] building housed what at the time was the world’s longest straight telephone switchboard with eighty-eight individual operator positions.

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Cincinnati Bell Telephone Seventh Street Building under construction in March 1930, and shortly after completion in 1931.


In 1925 Hake’s son Harry, Jr. joined the firm. He had received his education at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. Harry, Jr. became a partner in 1944 and sole proprietor in 1955 upon the death of his father, who passed away following a short illness at the age of 84. Harry, Jr.’s son Harry Hake III attended Brown University and received his degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati. He joined the firm in 1954, became an associate architect in 1960, and sole proprietor of the firm in 1968, following the death of his father that year. In 1978 Harry Hake III disbanded the firm Harry Hake & Partners and retired from architecture. The firm was reorganized as Champlin/Haupt Architects, Inc., retaining most of the architects who had worked for the Hake firm. Harry III left primarily to pursue other business interests, but commented that “I am making the change with mixed emotions. It was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make in my life, after three generations of my family’s involvement in the firm.”2

The disbanding of the Hake firm ended a remarkable eighty-year run during which “this firm, more than any other, has been responsible for determining the physical character of Cincinnati.” Many later leaders of the local architectural profession in Cincinnati spent at least part of their careers [End Page 79] working for the Hake firm. “As a large and successful firm for 80 years, Hake evolved from Beaux-Arts Classicism and other turn-of-the-century Traditional styles to a variety of modernisms. The credit for actual design is due to the numerous well-trained architects and draftsmen whom the Hakes are said to have been especially effective in discerning, attracting, and keeping in the firm through more-than-adequate working conditions.”3

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McMicken Hall on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, home of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences.


Among the buildings designed by the firm were several at the University of Cincinnati...


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pp. 78-83
Launched on MUSE
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