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Did you know that Park Hills Animal Hospital is known not only for its long time commitment to animal care, but also for its fascinating history and historic landmark?
Our beautiful white brick structure was built during the Civil War and was purchased by the Covington Sisters of Notre Dame for use as a convent and later a boarding school. The sisters were from Germany and early information about the building, known as St. Joseph Heights, was written in German.
One description of St. Joseph Heights read, "(It) has a wonderful place on the outskirts of the city. Here you get fresh and healthy air and a wonderful view. Often when it is foggy and the weather is overcast in Covington, Newport and the lower part of Cincinnati, you can take the streetcar close to the Academy on 5th Street in Covington and in 20 minutes you can be at the 'High Place.' You can then enjoy the clear blue heaven."
The church sold the building in 1946 to Dr. Nyron Bernard, a veterinarian and physicist, and it has been an animal hospital ever since. Dr. Bernard remodeled the front of the building and added columns to make it similar in appearance to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington near Washington, DC. For a while the brick exterior was painted pink.
Dr. Bernard is the nephew of Orville and Wilbur Wright and spent a number of years in Africa with Albert Schweitzer. Dr. Schweitzer gave Dr. Bernard an ape named Penelope and she lived with him in his veterinary clinic for six years.
Dr. Bernard lived for many years in the building next to the clinic where a train caboose was parked outside for much of that time. The building was sold to Dr. James Barton in 1985 and he worked here until his retirement in 2001 when he sold the practice to Dr. Mark Collett after working together for 6 years.
The basement of the building is fortified with 2-foot thick rock walls that provide a clue as to the age of the building, as does the fireplace in the reception area on the first floor. The remainder of the first floor and the second floor looks and feels like a modern medical facility.
[Prichard, V. (2001, November). Historic Landmark of the Month. Inside Your Town, Vol. 2, Issue 11.]