New College Hill mural celebrates neighborhood’s past, future

College Hill is home to a new mural that celebrates one of the neighborhood’s significant historic figures while also adding an extra pop of vibrancy to the area’s business district.

The 17-foot-tall by 72-foot-wide mural behind Brink Brewing Company and Just Q’in BBQ depicts the likeness of local pioneering pharmacist and entrepreneur Cora Dow.

Dow inherited Dow’s Drugs from her father in 1885 and went on to expand the business to 11 stores, making it the nation’s second-largest chain of pharmacies at the time of her death in 1915. 

A Cincinnati native, Dow also stood as a significant figure in the fight for women’s equality. In particular she received praise for paying female employees and pharmacists the same as their male counterparts.

The intersection of Hamilton and Cedar avenues is known as Dow’s Corner in her honor. It’s roughly 125 feet from the entrance to Brink Brewing.

Photo by artist Christopher A. Ritter

The mural features a building-sized portrait of Dow overlooking College Hill. Surrounding her are a series of iconic Dow’s Drugs medicine bottles, guiding viewers through the artwork and illustrating the wide variety of products and services the stores provided to their communities.

“The mural draws inspiration from period-appropriate ghost signs and the bold aesthetic of pop art, serving as a visual testament to Cora Dow,” said Christopher A. Ritter, the designer of the mural and co-founder of MirrorMirror, a creative services firm. 

Using art to invest in College Hill 

College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation commissioned the mural with support from Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. Local branding agency BLDG painted the piece designed by Ritter, who lives in Covington.

Emmanuel Karikari, CEO of College Hill CURC, said the project complements the growing number of public artworks that have popped up throughout the College Hill Business District over the past few years. “Cora Dow” is College Hill CURC’s fourth mural in the last two years.

The project cost $18,000 and is part of a $29,000 grant from Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. The remaining funding will go toward another nine street murals along Hamilton Avenue. That work will take place later this summer.

College Hill’s business district

Founded in 1975, College Hill CURC has been at the center of those revitalization efforts through a mixture of real estate development, small business support and community engagement efforts. In the last eight years, the organization has led over $87 million in development throughout the neighborhood.

College Hill CURC built the patio on which the “Cora Dow” mural sits as part of its ongoing Outdoor Improvement Program.

“This mural is not only a beautiful addition to our community but also a powerful reminder of the legacy of women’s empowerment that Cora Dow represents,” Karikari said. “We are proud to honor her contributions and inspire future generations through this artwork.”

College Hill CURC

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