Mount Adams, high above the river and overlooking downtown, is the part of the city that seems to belong to us all. Almost everyone knows about “Praying the Steps” on Good Friday. Everyone knows about the theft of the statue of St. Patrick and its return in the St. Patrick's Day parade. And everyone goes there for a meal, a stop at a bar or just to walk the interesting streets.
Now a newcomer to the Hill who has only lived there for a decade or so (in Mount Adams time that hardly counts) has written a book, Immaculata on Mt. Adams, a history of the Catholic presence in the neighborhood honoring Immaculata's 150-year anniversary. Author Jim Steiner has done more than write the history of a church; he has given the flavor of a small neighborhood deeply steeped in Catholicism but divided by heritage. Germans were first on the Hill and both church and school were conducted in that language, which was hard on the Irish when they arrived (Holy Cross Church and school eventually addresed their needs).
Steiner, who says modestly in his preface that he is a retired dentist “with no formal training in writing or history,” has put together a labor of love that is, in fact, a good book. The late David Crowley, whose family has been on the Hill for generations, contributed a forward in which he says, “Jim identifies some very hard times and some particularly funny episodes of parish life.” For years, parish life was life in Mount Adams.
The book ends with color reproductions of 19th-century Immaculata paintings, mostly by Johann Schmidt. Frank Duveneck, the Covington native whose paintings would later be recognized internationally, was Schmidt's apprentice at the time. Perhaps he had a hand in them? Grade: B