Elsinore Arch, Mt. Adams, Cincinnati, Ohio

Elsinore Arch, Mt. Adams, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Elsinore Arch, Mt Adams, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Elsinore Arch, also known as the Elsinore Tower was constructed in 1883 for the Cincinnati Water Works. It’s reported to be inspired by the Elsinore Castle featured in Hamlet.

In 1883, the Cincinnati Water Works wanted to extend its efficient water supply main tunnel 185 feet to the line at Gilbert Avenue. This efficient main started at the reservoir in Eden Park. To control the flow of water at the base of the steep hill, a valve house was needed. Because the Water Works wanted to enhance the landscape of the park, plus they wanted a structure that would also serve as a new entrance to the park, they felt that the valve house needed to have a special design.

That spring, Cincinnati was host to the Shakespearean Dramatic Festival at Music Hall. The highlight of the festival was the performance of “Hamlet” on Friday evening, May 4. Many in the crowd that night were highly impressed with the stage sets, especially the opening scene. This particular stage set was a 65-by-65 foot painting of Elsinore Castle (also known as Kronberg Castle), where the moody Denmark prince walked at night and spoke with the ghost of his father. In the audience that night was Water Works Superintendent A.G. Moore. He was so impressed with the painting of Elsinore Castle that that next Monday morning he appeared at the offices of Samuel Hannaford and Sons architectural firm with a newspaper illustration of the Elsinore stage set. What resulted was that Charles E. Hannaford, the son of Samuel, was commissioned to design the valve house in the form of Elsinore Castle. The Elsinore Tower was built later that year for a cost of $15,000.

The Norman Romanesque Revival mini-castle consists of a cylindrical tower joined to a smaller square tower by an archway. Since the Cincinnati Art Museum officially opened in 1886, a flight of steps were placed behind the Elsinore Tower as a short cut to the museum in Eden Park. It is reported that the reservoir valves were housed in a vault underneath the tower and that the Cincinnati Water Works uses the Elsinore Tower for equipment storage.