The history of Our Lady of the Visitation starts in 1946. After the Word War II, Cincinnati’s suburbs grew rapidly, including Bridgetown and Mack. Archbishop John T. McNicholas purchased a 23 acre farm between South and Werk roads for $21,000. Father VonderBrink was appointed by the Archbishop to organize what would be known as Our Lady of the Visitation Parish.
There was no church. Fortunately, the Diocese was able to purchase several army barracks one of which was designated for Visitation as a church. To move it from the Wright Plant in Lockland, a downtown suburb of Cincinnati, to Werk and South roads, it was cut into three sections and moved by truck then reassembled.
Then it was time to turn the barracks into a Church. Only electricity was available. Andy Haas hauled water from his cistern using a sled and a team of horses. With water, the new parishioners could mix plaster for the inside walls and concrete to build an entrance and a room for the furnace. White siding was added too. The Luken family and other men of the parish built forty-six benches. Unfortunately, they used green wood, which was the only wood available and it bowed as it dried. The Archbishop, realizing that the parish was already concerned about their debt, paid for the cost of covered padding for the kneelers.
The first Mass was offered on February 2, 1947 on the feast of the Presentation. Sixty families celebrated in this little rural Church with its 8 foot ceilings and a seating for only 275.
Father VonderBrink lived in the Fenwick Club and commuted each day. Clifford Schneider loaned him the use of his house while he was away on business for six months. A friend of Father VonderBrink designed a rectory and an aid to the Archbishop built the present house. On the day of the framing, 25 carpenters from the parish arrived and under the direction of Al Carle, they had framed the house in 5 hours. For the price of sandwiches and beer, Visitation parishioners showed what team work could do.
The basement of the rectory became the center of parish social activities with Friday night Bingo, Fish Fries, Rummage Sales & Turkey Raffles.
With a young parish, it became obvious that the parish needed a school. In January of 1950, the first 140 students enter a brand new school building.
Soon playgrounds were needed; and since many students lived outside of walking distance and not everyone owned a car in those days, the parish purchased a school bus. Andy Haas, the maintenance man, became a school bus driver too. He and Father VonderBrink toured the parish, mapping the best routes and, with stopwatch in hand, estimated the pickup times. Later, a bus garage was build next to the rectory.
The parish grew quickly and before long, Visitation had outgrown the converted army barracks. The Master Plan called for a new church and in the immediate future, more classroom space too. In 1959, Archbishop Karl J. Alter gave permission to build a new church with five classrooms in the basement once the parish was clear of debt. After a successful fund drive, work began.
Easter Monday in 1961 was the last Mass offered in the little barracks church. The south wing of the school became the interim church and that day, the seventh and eight grade boys carried the pews from the old church to the school. The barracks were demolished and construction began in June.
The first and second grades moved into their new classrooms in the church basement in the Fall of 1962. The church dedication took place in November of 1962. Seating 700 parishioners, its unique cruciform design is the product of architect Elmer Schmidt.
Two years later, under the leadership of Fr. Vogelpohl, Fr. Rettig, and the Worship Commission, our Parish began making changes to reflect decisions of Vatican II. In order to comply with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, a wood altar was placed in the sanctuary in 1964, so the priest would have room to stand behind the altar to face the people. The credence table was placed in front of the altar.
In 1974, the church suffered damage from a tornado, and the stained glass windows had to be replaced. Some parishioners' houses were destroyed, lives upturned, but everyone came together to rebuild their homes. The Mary Shrine was placed in front of church "In thanksgiving for the preservation of life and the successful recovery from the tornado of April 3, 1974."
During the remodeling of 1979, the baptistry became a cry room and reconciliation room, and was no longer entered by way of the vestibule. The Baptismal font was moved into the sanctuary, the wood altar was removed, and the main altar was positioned away from the back wall. In 1982, the communion rail was removed, and the sanctuary was opened to all. Mr. Mike Carnevale was hired to repair the terrazzo floor, as the brass pins connecting the rail to the floor pulled up much of the floor. The stand which holds the tabernacle is part of the original communion rail.
In 1991, a decision was made to add on to our present church. A larger foyer, 2 restrooms, and a meeting room were added upstairs. A meeting room, 2 restrooms, 2 offices, and a teachers' lounge were added downstairs. As part of that remodel, an Auditorium was added to the school property extending toward Werk Road.
In 1997 the school was again "bursting at the seams" and plans were made to build a new classroom building. This building included eight Jr. High classrooms, a nurse's office, and the school office. It was added to the north side of the school building, and a Memorial Garden was established on the grounds behind.
In 1998, the Pavilion was added in the back fields to replace the athletic equipment room and boy scout cabin that had to be removed to provide room for the Jr. High building. The Pavilion includes a large meeting room, restrooms, festival storage room, locker room, concession area and a garage to store the field and maintenance equipment.
Completed just before the Festival in August of 2011, a "bump-out" was added to the MPR toward the back parking lot. The two level addition holds a storage area for the cafeteria tables and restrooms on the ground level, and a spiritwear shop and storage room on the second level. The windows in the original building were bricked over, and a new ceiling was installed in the basketball court area.
In the Spring of 2018 we, again, needed to expand. This time to our church. Bids were received in late July 2018 by Beischel Building Co. from subcontractors for the project. The total project, which was to include the expansion of seating in the church, the finish of classrooms underneath and the addition of a gathering space to the front of church. However, after review with members of the Building Committee and Fr. Mark Burger, it was decided that we would proceed with the project except for the addition of the gathering space to the front of church. By foregoing this portion of the project, at this time, we are able to proceed within the limits of our fundraising and parameters identified by the Finance Committee. The project will allow us to meet the goals identified for expanded seating, additional classrooms and additional parking. The project was completed in The Fall of 2019.
Our Lady of the Visitation is a vibrant community that continues to change and grow through the commitment and generosity of its parishioners.
Just like others before us, we must continue to provide for generations who will come after us.