Day 28 – The Spirit of Christmas Tour

It’s Day 28 (Year 2) of “365 Things to do in Cincinnati” and today we’re featuring a new tour from the guys over at American Legacy Tours – The Spirit of Christmas Tour.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

The Spirit of Christmas is a walking tour.  The tour will take you into many Over the Rhine churches, all of which were constructed and loved by the original Over the Rhine residents – the German immigrants.

I have been on many (all?) of the tours offered by this fine group – The Queen City Underground Tour, The Newport Gangster Tour, The Queen City is Haunted Tour, The Civil War Tour….  and I do believe the “Spirit of Christmas Tour” is one of my favorites.  I don’t know quite what it is about this tour – is it because it’s about Christmas and everyone is merry?  I don’t know but I do encourage you to take a look at my pics and read on.  You’ll be out buying your own tickets in no time!

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

Our tour started off at the home of the American Legacy Tours, The Cincy Haus on Vine Street.  Our tour guide was Jerry Gels, accompanied by Gail Moe (from the Over the Rhine Foundation).

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

We started off with a brief description of what we’d be seeing and then we headed off to our first stop – The First Lutheran Church.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

This church was gorgeous – inside and out.  Located right across the street from Washington Park, you could stand out front and admire the amazing view of Music Hall.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

After learning all about this church, sitting in the pews, and venturing upstairs to see the old German classrooms, we headed down the street to see our next church – Nast Trinity United Methodist.

One of the benefits of being on a walking tour like this is that it makes you stop and admire all that surrounds you on these urban streets.  The architecture that whips by when you’re in a car can truly be appreciated when you’re on foot.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

You might recognize the work of Samuel Hannaford there – he was the architect of Nast United Methodist Church (as well as Music Hall, City Hall and more).

We went inside Nast UMC before proceeding down the street to see this gorgeous building, once a church.  It is being “saved” by 3CDC and is currently undergoing foundation/structural repair.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

After that we went into an old church building that is being converted into loft-style apartments so that we could understand some of the possibilities of making good use of these very old church structures.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

I never tire of hearing old Cincinnati stories and this tour is full of them.  I don’t want to give away the “surprises” on the tour – let’s just say you won’t be disappointed!

Our next stop was to see inside Prince of Peace.  We got to go upstairs to see the church – a part of the building that hasn’t been used since the 1980’s. It was in a state of disrepair but it was still amazing.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

My husband got to sneak up in the bell tower with the caretaker while we were there – very cool!

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

Our last stop was simply amazing.  We stopped in to see Brother Tim at St. Francis Church.  This Catholic Church is home to many Franciscan priests and does so much to help the nearby residents and homeless.  They were gracious enough to take us through the priests’ residence to see their Christmas decorations.

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

The indoor and private areas (shown above) can only be toured as part of this particular tour.  The following area, however, can be seen any day (until Jan. 6, 2012).  You can enjoy their “Franciscan Christmas” from 1-7pm every day of the week.  And it’s free (they do accept donations).

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

spirit of christmas tour cincinnati ohio

Our tour of St. Francis was complete after viewing the inside of St. Francis Church, which was decorated and ready for Advent and Christmas.

I would highly recommend you take some time on a Saturday and go on this tour.  It’s being offered on Saturdays at 11am (through and including Dec. 17, 2011).

Click here to find out more info about The Spirit of Christmas Tour and to purchase tickets


The folks at American Legacy Tours have given us 6 tickets to giveaway for The Spirit of Christmas Tour!!!

*****Giveway is now complete.  Congrats to our winners – La’Keyta, Michele, Jesse and Stacey *****

Want to win a pair of tickets to The Spirit of Christmas Tour?  We will give away 3 pairs of tickets on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

To enter: Simply leave a comment below, telling us if you’ve ever been on one of the American Legacy Tours.

Pesky details: On Tues., Nov 29, 2011 we will draw three names (chosen at random) from the comments on this post only.  Each winner will get a pair of passes for The Spirit of Christmas and they can be redeemed for any date (Dec. 3, 10, or 17).  You may enter to win one time and no purchase is necessary.  Be sure to leave us a working email as we will contact the winner via email.




  1. Amber Wallace says

    I have never been on any of the tours, but this looks like lots of fun & a great way to celebrate the holiday season!

  2. Kristina Fenimore says

    I’ve never been on one of their tours, although we keep meaning to check it out. This tour sounds awesome!

  3. La'Keyta Rayford says

    I have been on a couple of their tours and have loved them all. My favorite was the Cincinnati Civil War Tour which was the first one I have taken. I would love to attend this one, your pictures really motivates me and remembering the awesome tour guides!!

  4. John Ratermann says

    No, I have not been on any of the tours… I’ve read about all of them, and have been wanting to go on them, just haven’t found the time yet. Perhaps I can make this one my first?

  5. Lorri Love says

    I have never been on one of your tours but am so excited to try one. Being new to the area, I can’t wait to learn more about Cincinnati and its rich history.

  6. Kathy says

    We have not been on these tours and have only heard about them from you. We love to tour historical buildings and hope to attend the 18th annual Victorian Christmas Tour of Newport homes this Saturday!

  7. Maureen M. says

    I have been on most of their tours. With the two free tickets I will take two friends who are Chinese students at UC. This is their first Christmas ever. So the tour would be a wonderful introduction to Christmas and Cinti architecture. Hope the students win.

  8. Katy says

    I’ve never been on one of the tours. It’s one of those things I keep meaning to do but timing or money hasn’t allowed it so far. Thanks for the opportunity!

  9. Tina Weidner Klare says

    Had tickets to the brewery tour but couldn’t go at the last minute. Would love to do the Christmas tour to “get in the spirit”!

  10. Jordan says

    I’ve been on two of the city tours from this group and have enjoyed them both. The Queen City Underground tour was great because we got to see the lagering catacombs underneath OTR. Very cool indeed.

  11. Karen says

    I have been on the Queen City Tour and it was absolutely amazing!!! I love old architecture and history. I’ve been told many times that I’m an old soul. My husband and I were mesmerized by St. Francis Church and the Friar that we spoke to. It definitely holds a special place my husband’s heart because his uncle spent many years at St. Francis as a Franciscan Friar before he passed years ago and the fact that they remember him. We usually don’t buy gifts for each other so we just plan to do something special together and this would be the perfect Christmas gift for the two of us.

  12. Diana says

    Have not been on a tour yet, but I love the idea of knowing more about my adopted city and would love to take a tour!

  13. Carrie Tovornik says

    My husband and I went on the Queen City is Haunted tour in October of 2010. It was a great time and very interesting. Our tour guides were wonderful!

  14. Nick Lomangino says

    This looks like an awesome tour. I have been wanting to stop in and look at one of these old churches, but have never had the time. I have seen the basilica in Covington, and it is breath taking. I am really impressed at the rich history of Cininnati. I am a transplant fom Miami, FL and it’s wonderful to now live in area with such a rich architectural and spiritual history.

  15. Teri Ross says

    No, I have never been in one of these tours but they sound fabulous. Might be something nice to do with my Dad. He and I have always loved sightseeing and things historical in nature. Thanks for the post.

  16. tricia says

    This sounds like fun!! I have done the tour of newport last halloween and its worth it so I’m sure this would be too! Would love to try this one too! I miss the good ol days where u go downtown to visit the tunnels in shillitoes with the elf displays and santa

  17. Andrea says

    I’ve been on the Newport is Haunted tour but never any of the Cincinnati tours, which all sound so interesting. I would love to go on this one!

  18. Pam Moleski says

    Never been on one of their tours. Saw your photos over the weekend & was bummed that I was out of town for this tour. Thanks for letting me know there are 3 additional tours & for this chance to win tickets

  19. Abel Zavala says

    I’ve not been on any. I’ve been in Cincinnati one year and am always looking into what to do. Thanks to you guys, I recently went to Balluminaria. Also will be checking out Willy Wonka this Saturday.

  20. Heather says

    No I haven’t been on one of the tours. I have had a conflict every time I have been reminded of them. I have a fascination with church architecture so I am going to have to make time for this one!

  21. Yvonne says

    I have lived in Cincinnati my entire life and have never even heard of these churches! They look beautiful! When you grow up in the suburbs, sometimes you miss out on all the wonderful history that downtown has to offer. My mother is also a lifetime resident and would surely be fascinated by this tour. I have never been on any of the tours offered by this group.

  22. Pat says

    We did the Spirit of Christmas tour and it was great — access to beautiful churches in OTR you would usually never get.

  23. Barbara Fillion says

    We thoroughly enjoyed the OtR Brewery tour, although I don’t think it’s run by American Legacy … did you realize that Nast Trinity is the “mother church” of the Methodist Church in Germany? Its original members actually sent Methodist missionaries to Germany :)

  24. jeni says

    We’ve been on the Gangster tour (twice, brought friends since it was so cool the first time) as well as the Haunted Newport tour and the Brewery Tour. They do an amazing job and I’m so glad to see how popular they’ve become!

  25. Tania Ribeiro says

    My husband and I just relocated to Cincinnati and we didn’t have the opportunity to go on any tour yet! We hope we can get the tickets :)

  26. Amber Shebesta says

    No, I’ve never been on one of these tours, but with three kids there isn’t much time to do things like this :-) However, I would LOVE the chance to check this tour out with my husband for a little “us” time.

  27. Sarah Staab says

    I’ve never been on any of the tours nor did I know they existed. I’d love to win tickets and be able to see OTR in a different way. Growing up in the suburbs we always thought of it as the “really bad part of town,” glad these tours exist to help the sheltered people, such as myself, to hopefully have a better appreciation for our great city. How much are tickets to purchase? I know more than a few people that would thoroughly enjoy this tour.

  28. Kim McAfee says

    I have not been on any of the tours but love history and old buildings and Christmas so this is right up my alley! Would love the chance to go.

  29. Missy Rappoport says

    My parents took my son on the gangster tour last year and they loved it! My son and I went on the Haunted Tour last year and we loved that one too! These tours are a great way to experience our city in an entirely unique way.

  30. Lauren says

    We just moved to Cincinnati so we have never been on one of these tours. It would be a great chance to see some more of the city!

  31. Stacey says

    I have been on several of their tours, including all of the haunted tours and the Underground tour, all of them are amazing. American Legacy Tours is an asset to OTR and such a vital figure in helping us keep the valuable history in the area alive.

  32. Colleen says

    My parents and I went on the Cincinnati Underground Tour after getting tickets through Groupon. What a fun experience! We’ve recommended it to everyone we know, esp those visiting Cincinnati for the first time.

  33. bonnie says

    I would love to win tickets to this tour I have lived in cincinnati all my life (25 yrs) and I am just now starting to explore :) the tour sounds awesome so pick me! Thanks bonnie

  34. Terri H. says

    Never been on one of their tours but have been on one of the Architrects tours….it was awesome to see all the buildings close up and so much history….

  35. Sarah says

    I was on a tour this weekend with my friend! We had such a great time!! It is really worth it to check out these great tours, everyone! I hope so much to go on the Spirit of Christmas tour with my mom. :)

  36. Melissa Wells says

    I’ve been on the Underground Tour – very cool. I learned so many things I never knew about the city I’ve lived in for over 20 years.

  37. says

    I’ve been on the brewery tour… which is like the underground tour… But I believe it was put on my the brewery district people. The xmas tour sounds awesome. I’ve lived and worked downtown for almost a decade now and I don’t think I have EVER been inside a single church.

  38. Linda Croswell says

    I have never experienced an American Legacy Tour. This one seems wonderful. Thank you so much for the pictures. I feel that I almost attended vicariously because they were so very enjoyed.

  39. Deborah Voet says

    We went on the underground tour and loved it! We enjoyed hearing the history of OTR and also love the tour guides! Thanks!

  40. Bridget Shen says

    I have never been on one of the tours and would love to go on this one. I am a German teacher and this is right up my alley.

  41. Laura Reynolds says

    We have been on several of the Queen City Underground tours, including the German brewery tour , the Civil War tour and the haunted Cincinnati and Newport tours. Always a great time!

  42. Brian says

    This is such a great idea! Will additional tours be offered if the three listed sell-out? I was raised in the suburbs but my favorite holiday memories from childhood all involved visiting downtown and the surrounding “mounts”. Acre lots and newer houses never seemed as festive and warm as places I visited once a year around Ft. Square, the marbled banks along Fourth Street, the historic downtown churches, or saw in Eden Park and Mt. Adams. Great idea, one I wish I had found earlier!

  43. Christine M says

    Seeing the inside of so many churches (in just this one area) reminds me of visiting Europe. There are very few moments where Cincinnati evokes thoughts of Europe…but here’s to one of those. Looks like a great tour!

  44. Julie T says

    I’ve never gone on one of the American Legacy Tours but have always wanted to go. This tour in particular looks amazing as the architecture in the older churches seems gorgeous! :)

  45. Miss P says

    I commute to Cincinnati each day passing lovely old buildings and areas. I have not yet been on of the Cincinnati tours, yet. I would love to go on the Christmas Spirit tour!

  46. Christine Mcbee says

    I bet the tour is amazing!!! Have been studying stained glass in a fine arts class and it would be neat to see the churches especially.

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