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The building where news, architecture and Shakespeare collide

WCPO building
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 24, 2019

CINCINNATI — The castle outside WCPO goes by many names, including Elsinore Towers and the Elsinore Arches.

No matter what you call it, though, the castle is a work of historical and cultural art.

"Being that this was built back in the 1800s and it's still standing, that's pretty amazing," said Jeff Pieper, chief engineer of Greater Cincinnati Water Works. "It's a testament to our forefathers who have lived here that they built these things to last."

In its 70-year history, WCPO has served the community from three separate buildings. Although the castle sits outside of the current WCPO building on Gilbert Avenue, the Water Works actually maintains it. The Water Works is responsible for commissioning the castle's construction in 1883.

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The story is a Water Works superintendent attended a Shakespeare festival at Music Hall in the 19th century. Part of the set included Castle Elsinore from the play "Hamlet." Denmark's Kronborg Castle is the real-life inspiration for the play's castle.

According to Pieper, the superintendent "was so overwhelmed by it that he went down to the offices of Samuel Hannaford Architecture Firm and commissioned the castle to be built as a valve house for the Water Works."

The castle is no longer a functional valve house, but many photographers make it the setting of their work.

Watch WCPO’s 70th anniversary special at 7 p.m. Thursday on air, on, the WCPO app and on your streaming devices.