Monday, February 27, 2012

House of Musicians

One of my favorite things to do is look at homes that are for sale via the real estate websites. So I was snooping around the Over-the-Rhine area and stumbled upon a house at 1223 Jackson Street.
1223 Jackson - Source

It caught my eye because it is a small single family in between much taller buildings. It also has a low list price because it is currently a shell in need of a total rehab.

1887 Sanborn Map - Source

It appears the home was built in approximately 1864 for the Leopoldt family. The patriarch was Wilhelm Leopoldt and I found his obituary which was original printed in German in Der Deutsche Pioniere, a monthly magazine issued by the Deutsche Pioniereverein (Union of German Pioneers) founded in Cincinnati.
 Leopoldt, Wilhelm
(Obituary) Member of the Pionier Verein . He was well-known to everyone for, as a musician, he participated in the theater, German balls, and dances. He was born on 29 Dec 1822 in Muelverstedt, Prussia, and emigrated with his parents in Jun 1836 to America. The family departed via Bremen and arrived in New York during August (1836). He accompanied his family to Chillicothe and became employed as a steward aboard a canal boat between Chillicothe and Portsmouth.  On the same boat our well-known citizen F.X. BRAUNSTEIN was a cabin boy. After a year’s time, Leopoldt left this job and settled in Cincinnati in November 1837. He worked first as a food vendor at the National Theater and thereafter, ran a bar mainly frequented by musicians. Leopoldt also worked as a relief musician (contrabass). Soon, he was in constant demand as a bass player. He then moved his saloon to Main Street near Thirteenth Street; it was called the North Star House.

About this time Leopoldt became an enthusiastic founder of the German theater in Cincinnati. The history of this theater is set forth on page 27 of this volume of the Pionier. He then took up the study of the trombone. (There follows a humorous tale of his performance on this instrument.) He became agent for the Jefferson Hall, then the most prominent concert hall in the city.

As with all the older Germans of the city, Leopoldt was an energetic participant in politics. He was a member of the Democratic Party and was elected several times to be the tax assessor in the Tenth Ward. He died on 3 Jan 1875 after a lengthy illness.
Wilhelm was married to Magdalena. According to the 1900 Census, they had 9 children but only 3 were still alive at that time. Their children were:

                Lorenz b. 1848 d. 30 Jan 1867 Cincinnati, died from Typhus
                William b. 1849 d. before 1860
                Herman b. 1854 d. 13 Nov 1890 Cincinnati, died from heart failure, married Amelia Lauther
                Louisa b. 1857 d.? married Adolph Canis, lived in NYC
                William b. 1860 d.?
                Leanora Magdalena b. 1862 d. 1862 – 7 days old
                Edward b. 1865 d. ?
                Two unknown

Their sons also followed in the footsteps of their father as musicians. When Herman died in 1890 in Cincinnati, the following was printed in New York Dramatic Mirror:
Herman Leopoldt, for ten years orchestra leader at the People's Theatre, died suddenly.  Deceased was about forty years old, and leaves a widow and one child. The remains were interred 16 in Spring Grove Cemetery, and the entire force of the employes at Heuck's and the People's attended the funeral.
After Wilhelm's death in 1875, Magdalena continued to live in the home with her children until they moved away. She also rented rooms to working families. The city directories shows she last lived at 1223 Jackson Street in 1905. Magdalena moved to other Cincinnati homes with her son, Edward and by the 1910 Census, she is living in New York City with her daughter, Louisa and her family. Census records also show that her sons, Edward and William are also living in New York City after 1910. Magdalena died May 22, 1916 at the age of 94. Her body was returned to Cincinnati to be buried with her husband at the Walnut Hills Cemetery.

After this long period of ownership by one family, the home was occupied by renters in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 Censuses.
1910 US Census -
1920 US Census -
1930 US Census -
By looking at these census records, you can see how the residents of Over-the-Rhine changed from being  German immigrants to Appalachian immigrants in the 1930's.

1904-1930 Map - Source
I wonder how much beautiful music those long standing walls have heard over the years. It is time for this home to be returned to a single family, maybe to another family of musicians. I hope someone purchases and restores this home to honor the Leopoldt family and all the others who lived here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Three Sisters of Vine Street

I am fulfilling another request from my Facebook page. Brad suggested the houses at 1919, 1921 and 1923 Vine Street. These are three "sister" houses because they were all built around the same time and are similar in appearance.

1919 Vine Street

1921 Vine Street

1923 Vine Street
Victorian Antiquities and Design highlighted 1923 Vine last fall and luckily it has found a new owner.

Now for some history! These home were all built around 1905. Originally, the land these homes sit on were part of A. Schwill & Co. Malt House.
1891 Sanborn Insurance - Source
At one time, Albert Schwill & Company was the largest producer of malt for brewing beer in the United States. But even early, at the location that ran from West McMicken (once called Hamilton Road) to Vine Street was the Lafayette Brewery, owned by Alexis Darusmont. After his death, his wife continued to run the brewery until 1878. It was sold to Albert Schwill in 1882. Albert Schwill & Company also had offices and plants in Chicago.
1905 Sanborn Insurance - Source
By 1904, the malt house was owned by Herman Goepper. About 1909, the Aman and Sandman Box Company, specializing in cigar boxes took over the McMicken Street location.
1930 Sanborn Insurance - Source
From researching the census records, it appears that these were built to be used as rental housing.
In 1910, 1920 and 1930, all three homes were occupied by one or two small families in each. In 1930, Jacob Kraeusser owned 1919 Vine Street. His step-son, George J. Eggebreckt lived with him and his shown as the owner of 1923 Vine Street prior to 1948. I am guessing that Kraeusser and Eggebreckt owned all three homes and rented the ones they did not live in. After 1946, the homes were each given their own parcel of land and sold separately.

Know of another of "sister" homes? Just let me know and I will do some more digging!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hats and Musicians - Living Close to Work and Church

Thanks to my new facebook page, I have had a few people suggest buildings for me to research. Brandon, this one is for you!

Brandon was lucky. He requested that I research his property at 24 W. 13th Street. I was already working on a project for 3CDC at the corner of 13th and Republic and Brandon's house is right down the street so it was a quick add-on.

So let's start with a map:
1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map - Source

If you have been following Cincinnati history, you know about the Great Street Renumbering of 1896 (or just about that year). So 24 W. 13th Street was once 106 13th Street. It's a single family home with a beautiful mansard roof.

So with some digging, I found records of the first owner of this lot dating back to 1856. George Schwartz lived here (but most likely not this house) and worked as a shoemaker. He sold it to Frederick Ulmer in March 19, 1859 as shown in Mr. Ulmer's will:

Frederick Ulmer was a hat maker with his shop on Main Street. His listing in the 1860 City Directory is: 

ULMER FREDERICK, Hats, Caps and Furs, 113 Main, h. 106 13th

Frederick Ulmer and his wife Mary had 3 daughters, Eliza (from Mary's previous marriage), Mary Louise and Harriett, who died as a child. Eliza married Joinville Reif and Mary Louise never married.

Also in Frederick's will, he stated that he owned lots 29-30 on Milton Street which is present day 323-335 Milton (7 properties). I am not entirely sure he had all these homes built but the will does state that the Ulmer family was receiving rental income from these properties. These had to be quite profitable for the Ulmer's since Frederick willed $4,000 dollars at his death in May, 1869 to his daughter Eliza Reif. Wow, that would be approximately $64,705 today! Don't worry about Mary Louise. She would have inherited these rental properties after her mother's death but unfortunately she died before her mother.

Frederick Ulmer served in the Civil War with the 82nd Infantry Regiment, Company D. He received a severe abdomen injury in a battle in Virginia on May 8, 1862, just after the death of President Lincoln. You can read more about this battle here. He was mustered out in August, 1862. It is no wonder Frederick died in 1869 at the age of 46.

Mary Ulmer continued to live at 106 13th Street and also rent space in her home to others like Ludiwg Kreutz, a cigar maker. In 1887 Mary Ulmer went to live with her daughter Eliza.

I believe the current home was built by the next owners, the Brand family - three brothers who were all musicians, Albert, Adolph, and Arthur and their sister, Emma. In the 1880 Census, the Brand family lived just 2 houses down the street at 110 13th Street. Their father, Joseph, was also a musician born in Ramdorf, Bavaria in 1836 and died in 1875.

Joseph Brand 1836-1875 Source: Brand Family Archives

Albert and Adolph both continued as musicians but Arthur also became a music teacher. Albert was born in 1865 and died at the house in 1903. Adolph was born in 1866 and died at the Carthage Fair Ground in 1910 (I am sure there is a whole other story there!). The family belonged to Saint Mary's Catholic Church.

Arthur Brand, Sr. 1871-1924 Source: Brand Family Archives

Arthur is also the only one to marry (in 1900 to Margaret Mary McKeown). He eventually went into the phonograph business and moved to Walnut Hills and then College Hill. He had four children. After the death of Albert and Adolph, their sister, Emma, moved in with Arthur and his family.

In 1915, few families shared the home - Edward Ashorn, a teamster, Cecilia and William Doll, both working as clerks and Harry Dowell, a dairyman. But in 1920, new steady residents lived at the home. Fred Brocks and his wife Elizabeth live at the home until 1951. They are shown as renters in the 1920 and 1930 Census along with other renters that came and went, so the true owner may remain a mystery.

From single family home to multi-tenant rental property - so goes the story of many of the homes of Over-the-Rhine.