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$3.6 Million Renovation of Historic Devou Park Building to Benefit Area Children

An extensive renovation is underway at the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky in Devou Park.

Paul Hemmer Company has begun a $3.6 million project that will result in a complete renovation and construction of new interior facilities and capabilities within the building while preserving the historic character.

Built 90 years ago, the home was designed by Samuel Hannaford & Sons, the celebrated Cincinnati architecture firm known for regional landmarks like Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati City Hall, the Cincinnati Observatory, and the Mutual Building in Covington. The Children's Home of Northern Kentucky, founded in 1882 by prominent citizen Amos Shinkle as the Covington Protestant Children's Home, moved into the building in 1926.

It is perched high atop a hillside overlooking the city from Devou Park.

"We are grateful and proud to have the opportunity to partner on the renovation and re-purposing of this historic structure," said Paul W. Hemmer Jr., president of Paul Hemmer Company. "This will be a remarkable new building created inside an iconic shell and designed for 50 years of sustainable, carefree service in the 21st century. This will be one of the top ten projects of my career."

The renovation on the lower level and first floor will accommodate a Therapeutic Day School, a new joint venture between Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky (CHNK) and Covington Independent Public Schools that will allow for traditional academic services to be married with behavioral/mental health treatment for adolescents.

Hemmer will build state-of-the-art classrooms, a computer lab, and a student learning kitchen for the day school.

It will renovate the second floor to house CHNK’s administrative offices. The third floor – which was originally used as a nursery and later, as a storage area – will be transformed into a training and events center. The building's systems will be replaced and the structure will be made Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant for the first time in its history. A fire suppression system is being added throughout the building, as well as an elevator servicing all four floors of the building, wheelchair-accessible ramps, and ADA-compliant restrooms.

Paul Hemmer Company is managing all of the renovations.

“When the community needed an orphanage in the 1880s, CHNK was there,” said Rick Wurth, CHNK Chief Executive Officer. “And 100 years later, when the community needed shelter for orphans of the living – children who were victims of abuse, neglect, and trauma – CHNK was there with residential and community-based treatment services. And now, with the drug epidemic overwhelming Northern Kentucky, the community needs extensive services catered towards adolescent behavioral health, specifically, substance use disorders treatment. And Team CHNK is ready to fill that need; we simply need to make sure our buildings serve our programming needs.”

Renovation work relevant to the therapeutic day school should be completed in time for the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic year, with upper floors being completed in later months. Throughout the process, CHNK’s clinical and administrative employees are working from other buildings on the Home’s two campuses.

“We know this renovation is necessary if our Home is to continue offering critically needed services to the wider community,” Wurth said. “And we hope that we can once again count on the community’s support to help us launch this next chapter in CHNK’s history.”

Hemmer's team leaders for the renovation include project executive Paul W. Hemmer Jr., project manager Dave Middendorf, and superintendent Tim McNay. Adam Hemmer led development of the project. The architect is Barney McCulloch. 

In addition, Hemmer subsidiary Building Management Partners maintains and manages all the buildings and grounds of CHNK. 

Photo: Children's Home of Northern Kentucky/provided