The Pit exemplifies Elder’s greatness

Construction on the Pit was done by faculty and students as they erected permanent stands out of concrete in the 1940s and 50s.

from Elder archives

Construction on the Pit was done by faculty and students as they erected permanent stands out of concrete in the 1940s and 50s.

Every other Friday night in the fall season, the Elder community always flocks to one spot. One location that has been so crucial to the history of Elder, yet it is constantly forgotten how it came to be in the first place. The Pit has existed since most of us have been alive, so we hadn’t even given it a second thought.

It begins in the spring of 1922. A St. Lawrence preacher began spreading the word of a brand-new high school that was being constructed and nearly finished in the center of Price Hill.

Designed by the firm Kunz and Beck, the iconic front entrance of Elder shares many similarities with other Kunz and Beck projects such as the old St. Teresa church, Holy Family, St. Boniface, and St. Pius.

One half of the firm, William Beck, also happens to be my great-great grandfather, which gave me the ability to look back into family records and Elder records to find out more about my past relative and his various pieces of work. Featured below is St. Boniface in Northside.

Interior of St. Boniface Church in Northside; also designed by my great-great grandfather’s architectural firm. (from the internet)

Some 7.5 acres were purchased for the new education facility, including space for the main building plus an athletic building and a field right in front of the main doors. A year after the school’s opening, $15,000 was donated by the Knights of Columbus to construct a field in front of the school. This equates to over $235,000 in today’s money, showing that the Knights truly believed in what Elder was building and banked on their success. In the beginning, there was little to no grass on the field, due to it being used by baseball and football. However, football quickly began to gain popularity among the students as well as the community. This grew into the demand for a real stadium, but the school was limited. They could only add-on to what was already there, hence creating the infamously short distance between the sidelines and the seats.

Several years passed, as the Pit grew infested with weeds and rocks, with only a few wooden bleachers to stand on the east hill. A breaking point was reached in 1938, and the students volunteered to give up their lunch to build the new stadium. Construction halted for WWII but boomed afterwards. Several enhancements were made such as the addition of lights, a proper water draining system, and even the locker rooms under the Pit.

The home advantage was no joke, as the proximity to the field had a serious impact on every game played at the Pit. For the next twenty years, Elder football boasted a winning percentage of over 70% at home. However, the Pit is not only home to football. Elder lacrosse calls the Pit home as well, with track sharing it too until the construction of the Panther Athletic Complex that now houses tennis, track, and baseball.

The Pit has seen its fair share of other activities as well, with grade school playoffs, the annual “Party in the Pit”, and the Darius Rucker concert on September 30th, 2021. The Darius Rucker concert is a first for stadiums across the country, as a concert of this level has never been held at a high school football stadium before. This event will surely go down in history as one of the most important and impactful in Elder’s long and storied history.

Ask any Cincinnati native or anyone who’s played for or against Elder at the Pit and they’ll tell you that it’s different. The atmosphere is unique to anywhere in the country, and it’s been nationally acclaimed several times. Even at away games, I hear from opposing fans, players, and coaches about the Pit. They’re almost always thankful that they’re far, far far away from Vincent and Regina. Ranked consistently as one of the best high school football stadiums, the Pit’s energy cannot be matched anywhere else. Maybe it’s the student section screaming their vocal cords out every Friday night or maybe it’s the fans and alumni who never fail to be seen in the stands. Nobody truly knows what makes the Pit the way it is, but it is truly a sight to behold.

It’s always been there. Waiting for the next class of division 1 athletes and state champions. The Pit has seen every era, student, and graduate of Elder, and I wish that I could get the chance to know the countless stories it could tell.

I pulled most of this data from the old archives website that was unfortunately deleted at the hands of hackers. However, the Wayback Machine helped me revive these files, and I hope to one day restore the website to its former glory so that future students can use the data just as I did. Stay tuned.

Some awesome force could wipe out those buildings from the corner of Vincent and Regina and Elder would still be Elder because of the people.” – Father Strittmatter