Washington Platform to serve up 138-year-old Queen City History murder mystery

Washington Platform to serve up 138-year-old Queen City History murder mystery
Posted at 11:00 AM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 11:00:32-04

CINCINNATI – The world may never know who killed Harry Baldwin, but interest in the 138-year-old mystery surrounding his death remains high, according to local historian Mike Morgan.

“This is the first time that a prominent young citizen in Cincinnati winds up dead and it remains a complete mystery,” said Morgan, who owns Queen City History.

Baldwin, the 23-year-old son of a prominent Cincinnati family, died of a gunshot wound to the head on March 16, 1879, after police found him unconscious near Eighth and Elm streets. No one was ever convicted of killing him.

Morgan will discuss Baldwin’s death at 6 p.m. Thursday during “Cold Case, Cuisine & Cocktails: A Nineteenth Century Murder in Four Courses” at Washington Platform.

The restaurant, located at 1000 Elm St., Downtown, sits less than a block away from where police found Baldwin, Morgan said.

“There is an astounding number of places that were part of the crime in 1879 that are still there,” Morgan said.

The event includes a brief walking tour of the area where Baldwin was found, followed by an authentic mid-1800s four-course meal at Washington Platform created by restaurant owner John Diebold.

“We did some research on the ingredients that were readily available at that time and the German influence of the area and came up with a pretty simple menu,” Diebold said.

The evening's entree is walleye fish, which was regularly shipped from the Great Lakes down the Erie Canal to Cincinnati, Diebold said. He also will pair courses with beers from local breweries such as Rhinegeist, MadTree and Samuel Adams.

Morgan said between courses he will discuss theories on who shot Baldwin with a .22-caliber gun, a wound which police initially failed to noticed.

Morgan said he researched hundreds of newspaper reports about police questioning dozens of people, including Kitty Bennett, who owned a brothel on Elm Street, and William Schaller, who fired a gun outside of a nearby saloon on the day Baldwin died. 

“If you try to go out through everyone’s theory of the evening, you would end up with an obnoxiously long event,” Morgan said. “We try to track and lay out the abbreviated version for the evening. We show where this event happened.”

Thursday’s “Cold Case, Cuisine & Cocktails” is the first in a series Morgan and Diebold will host this year. They will offer the same tour and food pairings at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month through Oct. 12. The evening costs $45 and includes food, drinks and entertainment.

“I think there is a kind of tactile experience about feeling and seeing where some of these things happened,” Morgan said. “I personally think the thing is more fun.”

Cold Case, Cuisine & Cocktails: A Nineteenth Century Murder in Four Courses

6 p.m. Thursday

Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown