Many Americans think of the suburbs as a post-World War II phenomenon. In reality, many suburbs began in the 1920s following the First World War. This is certainly true concerning the city of Crestview Hills in Kenton County. Nestled along the Dixie Highway between Lakeside Park and Edgewood, Crestview Hills has a long and interesting history.

One of the earliest landowners in what would become Crestview Hills was John W. Leathers. By the 1860s, he owned approximately 1,000 acres in the area. Leathers served terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate and was a director of the Covington and Lexington Turnpike Company (now the Dixie Highway). In 1863, Leathers sold 80 acres to Covington entrepreneur Amos Shinkle who eventually built a summer cottage on the property. The two-story house with impressive columns still stands on the Dixie Highway near the Interstate 275 entrance ramp.

The area remained rural until 1922, when a group of Northern Kentuckians under the leadership of William Hoppenjans purchased 120 acres and formed the Kenton Land Company to establish a subdivision. Shares sold for $100 each. By 1924, the project was underway with the opening of a model house called the “Dixie Ideal Home.” The subdivision was designed to contrast with the older river cities—streets were laid out in a curved pattern and a few included landscaped islands. Many of the utility lines were buried underground and the plans called for uninterrupted pastural views.

The new subdivision was advertised as a healthy environment away from the dirt and noise of the city with spacious lots of at least 100-foot frontage and “carefully restricted” to preserve the rural environment.

The plan was simple: Crestview Hills would not be like the older river cities, it would be a residential community set in a pastoral landscape. The subdivision had easy access to Covington and Cincinnati via the Dixie Highway or the Fort Mitchell streetcar line.

Throughout the 1920s a number of new homes were built in the community. Much of this construction ended during the Great Depression. One exception was the founding of the Summit Hills Country Club in 1930, after a group of individuals under the leadership of Joseph Macke bought the old Hartke farm at the corner of Turkeyfoot and Dudley Roads. The barn on the property was renovated to serve as the first clubhouse and an 18-hole golf course was designed by Bill Jackson. The original membership consisted of 150 bondholders. By 1940, new members were paying an initiation fee of $5 and yearly dues of $75. The current clubhouse was designed by local architect Carl Bankemper.

The 1930s also brought another addition to the neighborhood. The Kenton County School Board acquired 12 acres in 1935 for the construction of a new central high school named in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The name was changed after a number of residents questioned naming the school after a living person. The new Dixie Heights High School, designed by Ft. Mitchell architect Howard McClorey, opened in 1937 and was built at the cost of $178,000 in the Art Deco style. Much of the funding for the new school was provided by the federal government through the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The Kenton Land Company eventually dissolved during the Depression. In 1951, the Crestview Hills Development Company purchased the remaining land and development resumed. This new influx of energy and capital led to the construction of many new homes. The two original streets of Rosemont and Parkway were connected by Winding Way and new streets were constructed, including Druid, Dixie Lane, Warwick Court and Rossmoyne.

In 1951, the residents of Crestview Hills and three adjacent landowners met to discuss the incorporation of the area into a city. This was mainly done to discourage the annexation of the community by the nearby city of Erlanger. Incorporation was achieved later that year and Frank Anthe was elected the first mayor. At that time, the total population had reached 200. The new city government quickly drafted a zoning ordinance and signed a contract with the South Fort Mitchell Fire Department to serve the city.

Since incorporation, Crestview Hills has witnessed significant growth. In the 1960s, the board of trustees of Villa Madonna College in Covington purchased a tract of land along Turkeyfoot Road for the construction of a new campus. Ground was broken in 1966 and the new facility was dedicated Sept. 28, 1968, by Bishop Richard Ackerman. One of the guests at the dedication was President Lyndon B. Johnson. The name of the college was officially changed to Thomas More College later that year. Since that time, Thomas More has greatly expanded its physical footprint in the city and has earned university status.

Other developments quickly followed, primarily due to the construction of Interstate 275. By 1978, the Crestview Mall was under construction with McAlpin’s as the anchor store. During the 1980s, Thomas More Office Park was developed and Lookout Stud Farm became a sought-after residential neighborhood. Development continued into the 1990s with the construction of the Legend’s Way Community and Summit Lakes. More recently, the Crestview Hills Mall was demolished and replaced by the Crestview Hills Town Center in 2005.

Crestview Hills continues to attract new residents, offering both older-style residences full of classic charm and newer homes and condominiums conveniently located along the Interstate 75/275 interchange. Thomas More Business Park and Crestview Hills Town Center foster a strong tax base and Thomas More University provides intellectual character to the community.

To receive more articles from NKY Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here!