“There Was Loud Music and Laughter”: Mauvis Evans Shares Her West End Story

Written by Keloni Parks, West End Branch Manager

In our ninth installment of the West End Stories Project podcast, we spoke with Mauvis Evans, who lived near the Cotton Club in the 1940s and '50s.

The Cotton Club and Sterling Hotel

Hotel Sterling, 1901 Sixth and Mound streets

Ms. Evans lived near the Sixth Street side of the Cotton Club, an integrated nightclub where musicians such as Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, and Duke Ellington performed. Evans said, "We used to … sit on the steps and watch the entertainment inside the Cotton Club."

The club was located on the first floor of the Sterling Hotel, the largest hotel in Cincinnati for African Americans. In 1955, the club was supposedly closed for non-payment of taxes and torn down in 1960. The Sterling Hotel was located in the Kenyon Barr redevelopment area, where Interstate 75 was to be built.

Sherman School

Sherman School

From kindergarten to fifth grade, Ms. Evans attended Sherman School, an elementary school on W. Eighth Street near John Street. Originally called Eighth District School, it was renamed the Sherman School in 1902 in honor of U.S. Sen. John Sherman, who sponsored the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Construction started in 1855, and over a hundred years later the school was torn down in 1959 after it had closed in 1957 due to declining attendance. Like the Cotton Club and Sterling Hotel, Sherman School was in the Kenyon Barr redevelopment area.

Arriving or Leaving

Wednesday Radio Program. Cincinnati Enquirer, June 19, 1940, pg. 20

When Ms. Evans visited Union Terminal as a kid, she observed the recording of a radio program called "Arriving or Leaving," where travelers shared their travel plans with the host, Paul Hodges. "Of course, we could only observe because we weren’t going anywhere," said Evans. The show aired on WCPO during the height of rail travel, but when rail travel waned, Hodges began recording the show at the Greyhound Bus Terminal that was located on Fifth and Sycamore streets. In addition to WCPO, he worked for WLW radio and television, and WKRC television.

Listen to Mauvis Evans' West End Story

With the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, the West End Stories Project has shifted from a video series to a podcast, so interviews are over the phone. If you or someone you know lived or spent a significant amount of time in the West End, please consider sharing your story. Call 513-369-6900 or email westend@chpl.org for more information.

Listen to past and future episodes of the West End Stories Podcast by subscribing to your favorite podcast app today.