CITY / FAMILY: Exploring the things that transform a house, a place, and its people into a home.
Growing up out west, Dennis and Jennie Chacon moved to Cincinnati to get out of life in Los Angeles. With an interest in urban renewal and the arts, Cincinnati was the obvious choice, and they made the move to the Midwest to live in Over-the-Rhine. After starting a family, they moved to East Walnut Hills where they bought an old home and started a brewery. This is their story.
What are your names?
Dennis, Jennie, Esme, and Zoe Chacon
Tell us a little bit about your family.
Dennis grew up in Mexico and Arizona, and I (Jennie) grew up in Hawaii and Washington State. We met in LA when we were both working at a film studio — I was in production and Dennis was in marketing. We share a passion for community and the revitalization of compact, urban districts, as well as the renovation of old homes and buildings. We also love the arts and are very proud of Cincinnati's vibrant arts community and rich local music scene. ArtsWave is such a gift to our city and we've loved exposing our girls to amazing experiences through their program.
What brought you to Cincinnati?
In 2004, we were living in Los Angeles and driving three hours a day in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We had just gotten married and Dennis was looking to start our life with a new adventure and get out of the rat race. He got out a map and rated cities across America based on the architectural significance of its urban core, arts and education, and Fortune 500 companies. Cincinnati rated high in all three categories. We flew out and went on the OTR tour of homes and bought a beautiful condo on Main & Orchard. We found such a sweet community of people who became our close friends. We walked everywhere, bought season's passes to the Reds, enjoyed the opera and symphony, went to our first football game and found great jobs.
What do you do?
Dennis has always had a passion for home brewing which has recently grown into full-time gig getting to do what he loves by opening The Woodburn Brewery on Woodburn Ave in East Walnut Hills. My (Jennie) greatest passion is storytelling and have worked in film and video for all of my professional life as a writer, producer, and director. I am the Artistic Director for Awaited and am a the Creative Director at Crossroads Church.
What neighborhood do you live in, and how long have you lived there?
We've lived in East Walnut Hills for eight years.
Why did you pick your neighborhood? What do you love about living there?
Although we loved living in OTR, when we decided to have children, we wanted to find our "forever" home but stay as close to OTR as we could. When we found a lovely Queen Anne home built in 1890 in East Walnut Hills on a double lot, it gave us the best of both worlds — space for bonfires and backyard camping, while still being close to everything we love downtown.
What are some challenges of living where you do?
We live on a street that is in transition. There are still some properties that need a lot of love.
Have you done any major renovations on your home? What makes it yours?
The home had been abandoned for eight years, so it was a major renovation project. It had no plumbing, HVAC, water, or electricity. But the bones were beautiful, and the foundation was solid. This home feels like ours because we rebuilt and restored every detail; we designed the kitchen and bathrooms, chose every light fixture and every doorknob, and there is not a surface or detail that we didn't have to restore and make our own.
Do you have a favorite park or place to hang out?
Eden and Ault Parks are our favorites because they both have so much variety and beauty to offer. We feed the ducks at the river overlook, go for runs around Mirror Lake, and enjoy the Krohn Conservatory. We also love to hike the woods to the old train tracks, play in creeks, and picnic in Ault Park.
Is there anything specific you hope your kids will learn from living where you do?
We hope our kids will learn to love their city and take ownership over the idea that they can make a difference by investing in both neighborhoods and people. And that diversity always makes life richer.
What changes do you hope to see in your neighborhood in the next 10 or 20 years?
We are excited about the continued growth of the EWH entertainment district where our business, the Woodburn Brewery, is now open. We hope that even more new businesses open and more of the beautiful old homes in our neighborhood are restored to their former glory by families with a passion and vision for the benefits of a vibrant and thriving local community.
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Scroll back to the top to get a peek inside the Chacon's home.