CINCINNATI — The embellished gates of the former Kahn's meatpacking plant sat untouched for years after the plant's closure and demolition.
On Monday, someone — someone equipped with a flatbed truck and a crew large enough to move several tons of historic steel — took them. Community leaders spent Tuesday night campaigning for their return.
Now, in response to WCPO's story, the gates have been returned with an explanation: It was all a misunderstanding.
Camp Washington community board member James Heller-Jackson told WCPO Wednesday morning the alleged thief had reached out to explain they believed the gates were free to take from the site. Heller-Jackson said the person who took them occasionally takes scrap from Rhinegeist and thought they were up for grabs when he saw them lying to the side at the site.
"I was called about it and found out that, yeah, somebody had observed a whole crew, a very professional-looking crew, coming in and taking the gates," Heller-Jackson said. "And actually several people saw this, but they all assumed that they were professional people taking the gates out."
Heller-Jackson said once the person saw WCPO's report Tuesday night, the gates were returned intact.
The handmade gates, which feature curlicue accents and a rose design at the place they would once have joined, stand 30 feet wide and 10 feet tall and weigh several tons. They were a well-loved, iconic feature of the Kahn's plant, according to Heller-Jackson.
The crew who took the gates used two trucks and a flatbed. They had all the equipment required to lift them.
Heller-Jackson asked for the public's help to track them down. He said he reached out to every scrapyard in the area but believed they're too pretty to scrap. Instead, he thought someone could be using them for decorative purposes.
Heller-Jackson asked nearby businesses for security video, and Rhinegeist agreed to check whether their cameras had captured the crew in action.
"Just give us a call," Heller-Jackson said Tuesday night, before the gates were returned. "We're not going to press charges. We'll get them back. We want them back."
He and other community leaders had hoped to install the gates in the Camp Washington Urban Farm on Colerain Avenue. The community board was raising money to transport and install the gates.