Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christian Moerlein House - Endangered

I was alerted to this today on OTR A.D.O.P.T.'s Facebook page via Christian Huelsman with Spring in Our Steps:
Source -- Google Streetview
"I know this is just over the OTR-Mt. Auburn line, but *18 Mulberry Street* is endangered of facing demolition. There's a public hearing on March 30th at 9am, to determine if it's a public nuisance. This house is, I feel, one of the most important in the Jerusalem area of Mt. Auburn."

One person commented that this was once the home of Christian Moerlein, one of Cincinnati's beer barons. I verified this information. While Moerlein's first home was on Elm Street, he built and lived in this home from 1870 until 1882, when he moved to his Clifton home on Ohio Avenue.

I found this comment on the home:
"His (Christian's) superb mansion, 168 Mulberry Street, Cincinnati, is one of the noted ornaments of the city."
1891 Sanborn Map
After 1882, Christian Moerlein's son, John C. Moerlein, resided here until 1905 when he moved to Ludlow Avenue. Henry B. Jacob, a brick construction contractor, then took ownership until his death in 1936. The home remained with the Jacob family until 1947.

1999-2003 Hamilton County Auditor
It is currently listed as a three family dwelling with the Hamilton County Auditor and owned by someone living in California. I hope at the hearing on March 30th that this historical information is presented and the home does not become part of "Lost Cincinnati".

Monday, March 26, 2012

Keyer and More

I took a great walk last week around Over-the-Rhine with my husband and a friend. We were on the hunt for any names we could find in doorways and on buildings. After finding this one last year, my friend knew of more. This one really caught our eyes at 1225-1227 Main Street:
Source - Digging Cincinnati History

My friend remembered there once was a sign on the building in the shape of a pipe. Well, off I went to dig on this one, since the title name seemed so detailed and old. But it was odd that the store front actually is part of two separate buildings.

I took a look at the 1887 Map:

1887 Sanborn Map
In 1887, the address of 1225 Main was 495 Main Street. There is no evidence of tobacco here but instead, a tin shop. Hmmm...

This took a lot of digging but it turns out this location dates at a tin shop as early as 1851 run by John Mesker, with help from Joseph Busse, Bernhard Niehaus and Jacob Cooper. Right next door, at 497 Main Street was a "coffee house" (another name for a saloon) run by Frederick and Henry Luening, just 26 and 23 years old, respectively, immigrants from Oldenburg.

1850 Census - Source
In 1860, the tin shop was owned by Joseph Busse who also ran a stove shop. The census records show that Mr. Busse owned the building valued at $6,000. Next door, Mr. Leuning owned the building at 497-499 Main along with his brother, Henry. This building was valued at $11,000. Fred ran the saloon and Henry was a merchant tailor. What is a merchant tailor, you ask? Well, it is defined as "a tailor who keeps and sells materials for the garments which he makes".

Through the 1870's and until 1885, this situation remained the same with the families growing. In 1885, while, Fred Luening is still living at 497 Main, it is no longer a saloon. A different merchant tailor is in this location and 499 Main has become "GOTTMANN WM., Dealer in Wall Paper, Window Shades, Table and Floor Oil Cloths, Toys, &c,". By 1890, Joseph Busse is no longer in the tin shop and 495 Main has become the shoe & boot store of J. Joseph Lagemann.

Well, where are the Keyer's? Louis Keyer, Sr. and his family lived at 70 Abigail Street (now 322 E. 12th Street, a parking lot). He was a turner, making pipes, umbrellas and canes. His son, Charles, followed in the family business. In 1896, Louis and his family moved to 1225 Main Street and had their shop below. Louis passed away in 1897 and Charles took over the business. In 1904, he had a home built at 2716 Eden Avenue:

From the looks of it, Charles was doing quite well! The business expanded to the 1227 Main location around 1920. This must be when the tile was added to the entrance. In the 1930's, as part of the Ohio Federal Writers' Project, this photograph was taken of the Keyer Pipe Manufacturing:
I am not sure who is at the machine. It could be Charles or his son, William, who took eventually took over the business. The business was still open in 1958 under the name of Keyer Pipe and Umbrella House and run by Judson W Gabbard. Gabbard sold the business in 1965 upon his retirement, having worked at Keyer since the late 1930's (see the comment below). I found this great packaging while searching:
Source - eBay Listing
A reader submitted this picture of his great-grandfather's pipe, complete with the case, stamped "Louis Keyer, Cincinnati, O"

Recently, BASE Gallery, a cooperative gallery partially sponsored by the City of Cincinnati, had used the space. The building is currently owned by Franciscan Homes IV, a non-profit housing group for the apartments above.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Blue House on West Clifton

You know, the blue house with the big front yard and no backyard at 104 W. Clifton? This house has caught my eye more than once now and it was time to dig up its history.

While the Hamilton County Auditor has the year built as 1865, I could not find anyone living at this address until 1868. John D. Riemeier, a lumber dealer, moved here after living at 53 Hughes (old house number). Mr. Riemeier was in business with a Mr. Meier. Prior to this partnership, he was a partner with H. H. Riemeier, surely a relative, in the building and carpentry business.

His business was quite successful. He was also well-known in the community:
"Although concentrating his efforts on the many problems daily arising in the exacting situations of business life, he was never too much engaged to devote himself to the execution of the projects which promoted the well-being of the religious group to which he belonged. He built the church at the corner of Race and McMicken streets and was one of the dynamic forces in the organization and administration of the German Orphan Asylum. Ever altruistic in spirit, he performed his charities in an unostentatious manner, believing in incorporating the Christian ideal in the conduct of his daily life."  - Source
The church at Race and McMicken is now called Philippus United Church of Christ, but was originally called Philippus Kirche. This is the church with the finger pointing to heaven at the top of its steeple.

By 1882, Mr. Riemeier and his family moved to the family farm in Groesbeck, in Colerain Township where he enjoyed breeding horses and general farming. In 1905, J. D. Riemeier's sons, Henry David and Herman George started their own lumber business and it remained open until 2008, when it fell victim to the falling economy.

After the Riemeier family left the Clifton Avenue house, by 1890, the Homburg family took up residence. Emil Homburg worked as a clerk in the post office and his brother Fred was a teacher at the Technical School of Cincinnati, the predecessor of UC's College of Engineering. Their widowed mother lived with them as well.

1891 Sanborn Map - Source

In 1900, the Luecke family also lived in the home along with the Homburgs. John Luecke was a clerk in the City Infirmary. In 1910, Fred Homburg is teaching at Woodward High School in Over-the-Rhine. He wrote articles for The Journal of Geography such as this one on the Jordan Valley. The Homburgs lived at the home until the early 1920's. The Luecke family continued to own the home until the death of John's wife, Ella Marie, in 1939.

Most recently, it was owned by the Franciscan Home Development, Inc. from 1998 until 2008 as part of their management of low income housing.

This home is currently offered for sale as a multi-family with Coldwell Banker West Shell. I wonder if Mr. Riemeier supplied the lumber for this beautiful staircase in his former home. But I still have no idea why it was built at the back of the lot instead of the front!

Monday, March 12, 2012

From Pork to Sigma Alpha Epsilon to Unsure Future

I came across this home from the Cincinnati Preservation Association's Facebook page.
CPA had this to say:
ENDANGERED: Built c. 1830, 2210 Ohio Ave in CUF is a brick center-hall Greek Revival w/Victorian additions. Declared a nuisance, on agenda for next Urban Conservator hearing 4/2
asked if anyone knew it's history, so of course (as they knew I would), I went off to "dig".

Finding concrete information back to 1830 is a bit hard so I started with the maps. The earliest map I could find was 1891 and the home is clearly there with the front bay window and porch

1891 Sanborn Map - Source
But who owned it? I used my "digging" tools and the earliest owner I could find was in 1862. Robert Brown, a widower, and his children, Robert, Jr. and Sarah, moved the "east side of Ohio Avenue, South end" according to the city directory. Prior to this, they lived on 6th Street.

Robert Brown was a pork packer with his warehouse at southeast corner of Sycamore and Court Streets. He must have done well, because by 1870, he was a retired merchant at the age of 58 with the value of his real estate at $8,000 and personal estate at $1,500.

His son, Robert Jr.:
Born in Cincinnati, O., 1836; prepared for his collegiate course under the tutelage of Charles Matthews of Cincinnati; graduated at Yale, 1857; attended Yale Medical School, 1857-58; bookkeeper in a Cincinnati pork-packing house, 1858-66; Assistant Secretary Cincinnati Gaslight and Coke Co., 1866 and later Treasurer and Vice-President of same; Secretary of Yale Observatory 1882 to the present time (1899); founder of the first club of Yale graduates in the United States, and has been actively interested in educational and other useful works.
Robert Sr's daughter, Sarah, married George Seaman Gray in 1861. He was trained at the Theological Seminary at Auburn, NY and preached in Maine and New Jersey. When they returned to Cincinnati in 1866 George entered the pork-packing and commission merchant business and he lived with Sarah at her father's home at 2210 Ohio Ave until his death in August, 1885 of typhoid fever. Unfortunately for Sarah, just two months later in October, 1885, her father died of "old age" at 75 years old. Sarah continued to live at the home and in 1900, was renting rooms to a lawyer, three school teacher and a printer among others.

In 1910, the home has a new owner. It became the home of UC's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the first home owned by any fraternity at the University of Cincinnati. Its location was close to the streetcar barn at the top of the Bellevue Incline, earning the E’s the nickname “car barn boys.” (Source)

Opened by Cincinnati & Clifton Inclined Plane Railroad in 1876, sold in 1880 to Cincinnati Street Railway. Incline connected with Cincinnati Street Railway's McMicken horse car line, which opened in 1881. Cincinnati & Clifton Inclined Plane Railroad also operated horse car line on Ohio Street from top of incline. Incline rebuilt in 1890 to accommodate streetcars. Incline closed down in 1926. - Image Source
SAE lived at at 2210 Ohio Avenue from 1910-1925.  The fraternity then built their current home at 2707 Clifton Avenue with a memorial bequest from Alfred and Maud Nippert to honor their son Jimmy Nippert, a Sigma Alpha Epsilon member and also the namesake of Nippert stadium.

2210 Ohio Avenue in 1923 - Source
In the years since 1925, the home became broken up into apartments. It has been owned by the same person since 1978. The home has been on and off the nuisance list for a few years now. I hope the Cincinnati Preservation Association can fight to save this home.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Before it was a Verein Hall

I received a wonderful gift from my kids at Christmas, a book called "Over-the-Rhine Tour Guide" by Don Heinrich Tolzmann. I can't wait until I get to read the whole book, but while paging through, a photo of 1708 Logan Street caught my eye.
2005 - Hamilton County Auditor
Mr. Tolzmann explains this home and the attached structure on the left was called Banater Hall. Banat was a region in southeastern Europe and this was a meeting place up until the 1950's for immigrants from those regions.

But what was it before it became Banater Hall? It had to be someone's home with those beautiful arched windows and the shutters still there. A friend emailed me to see if I knew anything else on the home and I just had to find out.

In 1877, August Harlfinger, born in German in 1813, lived here with his wife Anna Susanna (Susan) and daughter Elizabeth. August was a sausage manufacturer with his shop just next door to his home. By 1879, Elizabeth married David Dater, who joined the family business. August died in 1881. Unfortunately, David died in 1884, leaving his wife Elizabeth with two young daughters.

1891 Sanborn Map - Source
However, in 1888, Elizabeth married J. George Zehler, a butcher. By 1890 he is co-owner of a business just across the street from his home, Charles Reif & Company, a slaughter house and sausage company.
1890 City Directory - REIF CHAS. & CO., (Chas. R. & Geo. Zehler)
1890 Williams' Cincinnati Directory - Source
By 1895, the company has become The George Zehler Provision Company, with George Zehler as President. The family, George, Elizabeth, her children from her first marriage and their children, along with her mother, Susan, at 42 Logan Street, soon to be renumbered as 1708 Logan. Susan passed away in 1896, leaving the home to her daughter and her family.

I found this wonderful obituary of George after his death in 1918:

George Zehler, Sr., president of the Zehler Provision Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, died on February 13 at his home in Cincinnati at the age of 57 years. Mr. Zehler had been in illhealth for Borne time, and his death was due to a complication of ailments.

He was one of the best-known of the famous Cincinnati coterie of pork packers, and was a leader in everything that was started to advance the interests of the trade, both in his home city and in the country at large. He was a charter member of the American Meat Packers' Association, and served as its treasurer at one time. Nobody was more enthusiastic as a "booster" for the association that was Mr. Zehler, and he was always ready to give of his time and means to forward the cause.

Mr. Zehler was prominent in Cincinnati business circles outside the meat trade, and a leader in social and fraternal organizations. He was a director in the German Mutual Insurance Company and vice-president of the Hotel Savoy Company. He will be particularly missed by members of the Savoy Birthday Club, of which he was the commodore on river excursions. He is the first member that unique organization has lost by death since it was organized four years ago.

Mr. Zehler leaves a widow and seven children, a son, George Zehler, Jr., and six daughters, Mrs. George Guckenberger, Mrs. Jacob Schlachter and Misses Leonore, Edna, Thelma and Susan Zehler. George Zehler, Jr., has been at the head of his father's business for some time.
The business was left at the hands of the family with George Zehler, Jr. as president and treasurer, his mother, Elizabeth, as vice president and his sister, Edith as secretary.  The following is from "Memoirs of the Miami valley"

George A. Zehler is one of the progressive business men of the younger generation at Cincinnati, and has been connected with his present firm ever since leaving the University of Cincinnati. He is thoroughly familiar with all the details of the business, and conducts its affairs in a manner at once capable and expeditious. The large modern plant, occupying 50,000 square feet of floor space, gives employment to a small army of workers, and the pork and beef products which are packed here find a ready market all over the United States. Mr. Zehler is aided well in his work by his sister, who has taken over the secretarial duties and is handling them with neatness and dispatch. The fraternal connection of Mr. Zehler is with the Masons, in which he belongs to Avon Lodge and has reached the Scottish Rite degree; and he likewise holds membership in Syrian Temple of the Mystic Shrine.

While George Jr. moved away from 1708 Logan Street, the home remained with his mother Elizabeth until her death in 1926 and then to his sisters until they sold it to Vereinigte Banater Verein (translates to United Association of Banat) in 1930-31.

1930 Sanborn Map - Source
In 1933-34, Banater Hall was used for meetings various German groups, including the Deutscher Frauen Kranken Unterstuetzungs Verein (German Women Health Support Association) and the Deutscher Manner Kranken Unterstuetzungs Verein (German Men Health Support Association). Banater Hall was owned by what eventually became the Donauschwaben Society and the hall at 1708 Logan Street was sold in 1967 to a private owner. The Donauschwaben Society has made their home in Colerain Township since 1972.