Monday, July 23, 2012

A Two-Family on Elberon - More Price Hill History

Continuing in the series of fan requests from my Facebook page, Carol asked about a home she lived in on Elberon Avenue in East Price Hill. She heard stories of bullets being stuck in the stone wall at the street and tunnels for delivering coal.

917-919 Elberon Avenue - 1999-2003 Hamilton County Auditor
This once beautiful home was built originally as a two family residence circa 1885 for Wehner family. Joseph Wehner and his son Alonzo were tailors and their shop was on Sixth Street, Downtown. Joseph and his wife Elizabeth lived here with Alzono and his wife, Elizabeth Striker, daughter of John Striker and their children.

While Carol had heard rumors this could have been the Price family home, before this land was divided into smaller building lots, it was once owned by the Boyle family as seen on the 1869 map below:
1869 Titus Map
The Price family properties were further to the east. You can see there was a road the ran along the eastern edge of the Boyle parcel. This is modern day Elberon Avenue, but was also once called Boyle Avenue, north  from Brevier Av and Park Avenue south from Brevier.
D. R. Kenny's Illustrated Cincinnati published in 1875
As you can see on the map and the picture above, the Boyle home was quite large. After the Boyle family moved, it was used as a school. If you look at the map below, you can see the outline of the school building matches pretty well to the outline of the Boyle mansion on the 1869 map above. Their home also gave Mansion Avenue it's name.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The Boyle home was torn down in 1892 to make way for a new school building. This lengthy newspaper article described the residence:

The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 9, 1892
Castle Boyle; Once a Princely Mansion; The Most Palatial Residence in the West; Next Week To Be Leveled To the Ground; Recollections of a House With Silver Door Hinges;  Its Master Was One of the Pioneer Distillers of the City
The celebrated Boyle homestead is to be sold at auction on the 11th. For more than a quarter of a century it has been one of the most famous landmarks of Hamilton County. Its history and that of the family who occupied it, read like a romance tinged with sadness that is as pathetic as true. It is located on a commanding eminence on Price Hill, and some years ago, about ten, was purchased at public auction by the Board of Education for $50,000 and since then, about $10,000 more having been expended, has been used for school purposes.
It has been utterly unsuited for these, and the growing wants of Price Hill families are such that the magnificent structure is to be torn down, and on the 13th, two days after the tearing down contract is let, the bids for building the new $40,000 Public School house will be opened and let. The house is decidedly the finest and most massive ever erected in Hamilton County. It cost in the neighborhood of $300,000 and it was a structure designed by its owner to stand for ages.
Stephen S. Boyle, who built the house, but never lived to see its completion, as he died in New York City in 1864, was perhaps the leading distiller and rectifier west of the Alleghenies before and during the early part of the war. He was a native of the County Cavan, Ireand, and started in the distilling and rectifying business in this city in 1847, on Front street the second door east of Broadway.
Then he established the Queen City Distillery, on Second street, near Elm and afterward built a larger one on Second street near Broadway. He accumulated money rapidly, and the Boyle Caste, as it was called, originally stood in the center of a sixty-five acre tract, now in the heart of the most thickly populated part of Price Hill. The house contained twenty-two rooms, and the wall and foundations were laid not in mortar but cement.
The marble was all brought from Italy and workmen brought over to put it up. There was a private chapel with stained windows, too, and they were imported. The interior was fitted with black walnut, some of the doors being eight inches thick. The parlor door swung on silver hinges that cost $45 apiece. There were nine large cisterns on the premises connected together.
The grounds contained every variety of fruit, and every thing about the mansion and connected with it was of the most solid and expensive order. After Boyle’s death the widow carried out the plans of her husband in the minutest detail. At the sale of furniture of the house, much of the bric-a-brac was purchased by connoisseurs, and some of it is at the Art Museum. Benn Pitman secured some treasures, and there are even in Dr. Weatherhead’s drug store some of the settees to-day. After the widow’s death, who was a Quakereas, but a Catholic by conversion, the residence fell to one of the sons, who let it go under the hammer.
There were several sons, Peyton S. who was educated for the priesthood, but married and is now believed to living in St. Paul engaged in business. Edward, another son, is dead. Steve lives on a farm in Fostoria. Two of the daughters, one of whom was blind, are in convents, secluded forever from the world. The house has been struck two or three times by lightning and during the severe storm of Tuesday, while the teachers and pupils were in school, they all felt a severe shock, which they describe as shaking the entire building.
A tour through the house and up into the cupola, which commands of one the most magnificent views in Hamilton County, was recently made by an Enquirer reporter with Mr. John Klein, the efficient Superintendent of Public School Buildings. The house has, of course, been stripped of its treasurers, but the massive oak staircases and solid mahogany, huge doors, black walnut pouching and Venetian stained-glass windows remain. There is a lively interest among contractors and buyers of material in reference to the sale, and a large crowd will no doubt be attracted on Saturday, the 11th. Eleven seventeenths of the proceeds go to the Barr estate.
Whittier Public School, completed in 1894 - Source
Curiously, this building was also struck by lightning in 1958 and was demolished. This area is now known as Whittier Gardens, and is "An educational park with theme gardens - bird and butterfly gardens, fruits and berries, and other flora native to this region of the country." - Source

Back to our subject home, the Wehner family continued to live in one half of the home at 917-919 Elberon Avenue while renting the other half. As you can see from the 1900 Census below, both the Wehner family at 917 and the Allen family at 919 had servants.
1900 United States Census -
Those tunnels which Carol believed were for coal deliveries might also have been servant entrances. These tunnel openings can be seen in the photo below:
Google Streetview
The Wehner family continued to own the building until 1974. It continued to be used as rental property, being divided into four units, from Carol's recollection. It was demolished before 2005, but the wall and tunnel entrances can still be seen on Elberon Avenue.
2005 Hamilton County Auditor

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hyde Park Sisters - Burch Avenue

While I love researching buildings in the basin of Cincinnati, this city is full of old buildings with stories to tell. So I requested suggestions on my Facebook page and the fans responded. I now have a lengthy list and more fuel for my addiction to Cincinnati history. Matt - This one is for you since you were the first to respond.

Matt suggested I take a look at the twin buildings on Burch Avenue near Madison Road in Hyde Park. They are actually reverse twins, mirror images of the same home.
3570 Burch Avenue
3574 Burch Avenue
Sorry for the old picture (1999-2003). Trees blocked the view from the other photos.
These home were both built circa 1893 and as you might have guessed, they were built for members of the same family. The first home above, 3570 Burch Avenue, was built for Regina Sandman, widow of John Henry Sandman, who was a general commission merchant and dealer in flour and grain with the firm of Sandman, Spreen & Co in 1870. John Henry died in 1872 at the age of 55 from pneumonia, leaving his wife to raise their three daughters, Mary, Dora and Caroline.
Mary and Dora never married but lived with their mother in this home on Burch Avenue. Their sister, Caroline, made a lucky match in 1882 to William L. Voight. William's father, Lewis Voight, was a wall paper tycoon, if ever there was such a thing. 
Lewis Voight was born in Cincinnati January 7, 1836. His parents, Henry and Margaret (Helmnth) Voight, were natives of Hanover, and in 1833 came to this city, where the former established a transfer and drayage business, which he conducted until his death in 1838. In 1840 his widow married Christopher Stager; both are now deceased. 
Lewis Voight attended the public schools until thirteen years of age, when he entered the employ of Irwin & Foster, steamboat agents, attending night school during this period. He was next employed by P. W. Strader, in the Little Miami railroad ticket office, under Major Tillotson, and was then transferred to the charge, as conductor, of the large omnibus known as the "Ben Franklin." In 1852 he began to learn the trade of paper-haugiug, and in 1855 became a journeyman. In 1860 he established the Senate Exchange, on Main street, near Court, and was doing a good business when the Civil war broke out. He sold out, aud in June, 1861, enlisted as captain of Company H, Twenty-third Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered out in December, 1862, having been compelled to resign on account of rheumatism contracted from exposure during the battle of Perryville. After the battle of Murfreesboro Capt. Voight's resignation was accepted. During this campaign he was provost marshal at Scottsville and Glasgow, Ky. Returning to Cincinnati in January, 1863, he bought out the paper store of George W. Reed, located on Central avenue, between Longworth and Sixth streets. In 1865 he moved into the Hart building, on the northwest corner of Longworth and Central avenue, and there remained until 1891, when he removed to his present location, Fosdick building, No. 57 West Fourth street. In 1881 he established a wholesale department and warehouse on Seventh street, west of Central avenue. In 1887 he removed his wholesale department to Nos. 258 and 260 West Fourth street, and again removed that branch of his business to the new building erected by the company, Nos. 90, 92, 94 and 96 John street, below Fourth. In 1879 Mr. Voight took his eldest son, William, into the business, and in 1887 the second son, Elmer C., became identified therewith. The former is now manager of the wholesale, and the latter of the retail, department. In 1890 the Lewis Voight & Sons Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio, a third son, Lewis, Jr., being one of the company. The concern does the largest jobbing business in the West, is the second largest jobbing house of its kind in the United States, and was the first jobbing house of its kind in Ohio. - Source
Trade card for Lewis Voight & Son circa 1880-1890 - Source
William and Caroline had one child, Edith, and moved to their home at 3574 Burch Avenue circa 1893. William apparently had some issues come up with his business around 1907 and was absent from the office for over four months. As president and treasurer of the firm, this began to cause problems as he as the only one authorized to pay bills and was no where to be found. The secretary of the company, C.L. Rau, had to apply for receivership of the company.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Jul 7, 1907; pg. 16 
... The blinds are all drawn at the Voight residence, a red brick mansion at Burch avenue and Madison road, Hyde Park, and have been for over a week, since which time Mrs. Voight … has been in Detroit with der daughter Edith, who is in school there. Mrs. Sammand (sic, Sandman), a sister of Mrs. Voight, who lives next door to the Voight home, stated yesterday that she knew nothing of her brother-in-law’s business or family affairs.
“I have no idea where William is,” said she. “I have not seen him for several months. In fact, I am wholly at sea about whatever trouble it is that brings about these conditions.”
When asked for the address of her sister in Detroit, Mrs. Sammand (sic) said she did not care to have her bothered with inquiries, and therefore declined to give it out. In the neighborhood it was learned that there had been trouble in the William L. Voight family. Several months ago Voight had trouble with a woman on Vine street, in which his father, Lewis Voight, took a hand, but it was hushed up.  Yesterday Lewis Voight, who is the head of the United States Wall Paper Company, said that the John street business was the property of his son exclusively, and that he took no part in its conduct, he having sold out to his son four years ago. He did not know where William Voight is, he said, and had not seen him in the last four months. He appeared to be entirely unable to account for his absence from his place of business, and claimed his son drank very little, and that he had had no business or family troubles, but has large property interests outside of his business.
Voight was the Hyde Park member of the City Council in 1897 and 1898. He is 50 years of age, of a quiet turn, but well liked by those who know him best. One of his lawyers stated yesterday that he caught a glimpse of Voight on the street last Thursday, but that he was not close enough to attract his attention, and he got away before he could intercept him in the crowds.
It was stated last night that William L. Voight had been seen at the Latonia race track, and that he was accompanied by a woman.
Apparently, 1907 was a rough year for the Voight family  as evidenced by the following article:
Cincinnati Enquirer; Aug 9, 1907, Pg. 12
Dragged Out of Elevator Cab, By Woman He Was Trying To Dodge in the First National Bank Building
There was great excitement in the First National Bank Building yesterday afternoon, when William Voight, formerly at the head of the Lewis Voight & Sons wall paper concern at 316 and 322 John Street, appeared at the elevator shafts in company with a tall, good-looking woman. Both were loaded down with luggage, comprising hand bags, valises and suit cases. Voight told his companion to look after their baggage while he took an elevator and went above to consult his lawyers. The woman stated that she was his wife, and that they were staring on a vacation to Yellowstone Park. She waited about one and one half hours, and then spied Voight in an elevator cab, evidently trying to reach the underground subway. She darted toward the cab, when Voight got the tender to send it up in the building again.
Sticking to her post the woman continued to wait. About 20 minutes later she again saw him, this time, crouched in the corner of the most southern cab, on his way to the underground outlet. He had, to all appearances, told the cab tender to carry him to that avenue of escape, for just as the woman made a dash for the cab, the elevator boy tried to close the gates. She beat him, however, and threw herself into the cab, bodily, landing on Voight’s neck.
The two wrestled around for a time, but the woman, who is described as one of Amazon form, gained physical supremacy, and pulled Voight out of the cab. By this time bank employees, brokers, office men from the colossal building and the public generally had surrounded the two struggling forms and suit cases. Nobody interfered. All were perceptibly edified at the unequal combat.
“Now, will you be good?” queried the woman, landing another bag on top of Voight’s head. “Are you ready to catch the train with me now?” she insisted.
Finally a faint sound of surrender came from the conquered wall paper man, and, loading all the baggage into his keeping, the two left the building, followed by a curious crowd.
Attorney Cobb, of Cobb, Howard & Bailey, Voight’s attorney, said that Voight had never shown up at this place of business since Receiver C.L. Rau was appointed July 6. He did not know where the well-known business man had kept himself since that time, but added that his family had received no revenues from the business since it was taken in charge by the Court.
In 1908, Edith Voight sued her own father for over $1,500 and foreclosure of mortgage, but it does not identify which property she was suing for. Through all this turmoil, William's wife apparently stayed with him, as they are listed together on the 1920 and 1930 Census records.
1917 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The sister homes on Burch Avenue were sold circa 1921. Wilfred Rush, listed as a salesman, purchased the Voight home and it remained in his family until 1946. The current owners bought it in 1970 and have owned it longer than any other previous owner.

Lillian Curnayn purchased the Sandman home at 3570 Burch Avenue around 1922 and turned it into a multi-family building. She owned it until 1946 and today, it is still used as a three family building.

Such a colorful history to these sister homes on a quiet corner in Hyde Park.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Know Your Home's Ancestors

As I have previously said, I believe buildings, especially homes, have ancestors like people. Knowing the style of architecture or the builder are only a small part of the story. Knowing who lived there and what they did gives a building a fuller, richer history, just like learning the stories of our families.
Sample Report - Do not distribute without permission of Digging Cincinnati History
To view the full report, click here. Please be patient, the file is large!

Do you want to know more about your building? Send me an email!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Home With A Park View

These buildings have grabbed my attention more than once now and last Friday at the opening of Washington Park was a great opportunity to get a better picture.
1316-1318 Race (left), 1314 Race (right) Source - Digging Cincinnati History
Little did I know that these two buildings share a common ancestor. See, I believe buildings, especially homes, have ancestors like people. Knowing the style of architecture or the builder are only a small part of the story. Knowing who lived there and what they did gives a building a fuller, richer history, just like learning the stories of our families.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Before 1896, 1314 Race Street was 472 Race, right next door to the Nast Memorial German Methodist Church. The home was built in circa 1876 for John Fred Heitmeyer, a grocer and commission merchant who was born in 1821 in Prussia. His wife was Margaret Stroebel Heitmeyer, born in Bavaria. Together, they had three sons, Charles William, Frederick Adolf, and Henry George. But 472 Race Street was not their first home. From at least 1860 until 1876, they lived right next door, at 474 Race, when there was still a two-story single family home there.
1875 Illustrated Cincinnati - Source
J. Fred Heitmeyer was quite successful in his business along with the Frazer family. In 1890, the Heitmeyer family took over the business which was located on Walnut Street between Front and Second Streets. Margaret Heitmeyer passed away at their home in 1893 and J. Fred joined her in 1904, dying from pneumonia at the age of 82. They are both buried at the Walnut Hills Cemetery.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
While the Heitmeyer family lived at 472 Race, it seems they still owned 474 Race and rented it to various people over the years. In 1884, their son Henry George had married his wife Carrie and they moved into the old family homestead. Before 1900, the present building at 1316-1318 Race Street was built and Henry, Carrie and their children Harry and Laura lived on one floor of the 1316 side of the building with the Morehouse and Kuhl families living on the other floors. The left side, 1318 Race, housed three other families.

Circa 1900 - Source
But in 1905, after the death of their parents, Charles, who never married and his brother Henry, with his family, were all living back in the single family home at 1314 Race Street. Only five years later, these brothers had moved out of Over-the-Rhine and up the hill to Clifton, living at 3426 Cornell Place, off Ludlow Avenue. The family home was turned into two flats with tenants W.E. French, a clerk at a railroad freight office and Joseph Orth, who ran a daily market on 6th Street.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
From 1915 until 1940, various renters lived at 1314 Race and, as was common in most large American cities, the first immigrants moved away from the city center and those who took their place came from other parts of the United States and primarily from the south. As you can see in the 1930 Census below, renters were born in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama and Indiana. Louis A. Koehler owned and lived in this home from around 1930, running a real estate business here along with renting the upper floors to tenants. 
1930 US Federal Census -
Mr. Koehler continued to own 1314 Race Street until his family sold it in 1959 to the Emmanuel Community Center. In 2003, it was sold to the Nast Trinity United Methodist Church. Pastor Dave Weaver tells me the building is now uninhabitable and needs a complete renovation. The church has no immediate plans but have begun conversations for its future. Facing the new Washington Park, the future is sure to have a beautiful view!
1999-2003 Hamilton County Auditor

2008 Hamilton County Auditor

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Elm Street Doctors

A friend who also loves Cincinnati history posted this picture from his recent trip to Cincinnati. (Thanks, John!)
This beautiful gem is at 1209 Elm Street, just south of Music Hall and one house away from St. John's Evangelical Protestant Church at 12th and Elm Streets.
You can see the house on the right through the trees. -  Source
This home is a more "recent" old home, as it was built in 1895 for Dr. Rudolph H. Reemelin. As you can see on the map below, another house stood here before construction began on the doctor's home.
The address prior to 1896 was 395 Elm Street, a small home. - Source
Dr. Reemelin was active in his community and a member of the Odd Fellows Temple. He was born in Dent, Ohio  in 1855, son of a German immigrant, Charles Reemelin, who was a farmer.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Sep 12, 1891, pg. 8
Maybe Dr. Reemelin should have picked another location for his new home, based on the following article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, April 26, 1895:
POLES - Dr. Reemelin Claims That He Has More Than His Share
Dr. R. H. Reemelin now no doubt is sorry that he was fortunate enough to select a piece of property, the sidewalk in front of which seems to be so admirably adapted for the placing of poles. Here is a communication the Board of Administration received from him yesterday: “I beg the Honorable board to examine the condition of my pavement at 395 Elm street relative to my view being obstructed by a street railway trolley pole, an electric light pole and a telegraph pole, all on a 22-foot pavement. My neighbors on both sides of the street, for a distance of 60 feet, have no poles, therefor I would feel much obliged if one or more of the above-named poles would be removed.”
Dr. Reemelin has just completed one of the prettiest stone front house on Elm street, near Twelfth, and believes that the house is complete without such outdoor adornments as poles. The board will see what can be done in the matter.
Even in 1898, the residents of city were looking to improve Washington Park and Dr. Reemelin was a part of this planning since his home overlooked the park:
Pushing – Improvement of Washington Park Are Residents in That Vicinity
Nearly 40 of the most influential residents in the vicinity of Washington Park met at the office of Dr. Reemelin on Elm street, enthusiastic in the project of arranging an electric fountain and music during the summer for the park. An organization, under the title of the Washington Park Improvement Association was immediately formed. Member of the Board of Legislation, Jacob Schaeffer, was elected President and John Henry Ahlbrandt, Jr., Secretary.
The object of the organization, as already published in The Enquirer, was then stated, and it was decided to take steps at once to petition the city boards to the end that the fountain and music stands should be erected at once, and a committee, consisting of Dr. Reemelin, Fred Bader and John Greiwe, Jr., were appointed a committee for that purpose. A resolution was also adopted declaring that the swings now in use in the park are a nuisance, grown girls making exhibitions of themselves therein to the annoyance of residents near the park who are compelled to witness their antics, and subverting the use of these swings from the little girls and boys, for whose enjoyment they were originally erected. - The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 29, 1898, pg. 7
For reasons unknown, Dr. Reemelin moved before 1902 but another doctor took up his residence and practice at 1209 Elm Street. Dr. Henry Buschmann also rented the upper floors to other during his time here and this tradition continued from many years. You may be asking yourself why doctors chose to live on Elm Street. Well, for many years, the Miami Medical College was on 12th Street between Elm and present-day Central Parkway. The building is no longer there, replaced by the Teamsters Hall, now the Drop Inn Center.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map, south side 12th Street between Elm and Central Parkway - Source
In the 1920's, Dr. Charles Maertz had his practice here and starting around 1930, Dr. James S. Mills ran his practice here for many years. He was joined by Dr. Frank G. Grace in the 1940's. Also by 1930, the Miami Medical College has been replaced by the Teamsters Hall, and the Opthalmic Hospital had been built just behind the church.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
In the photo below from the mid-1970's, Dr. Mills' name could still be seen next to the left entrance and his family owned the building until 1976.
In 1991, the home was purchased by Tender Mercies and now is called the New Morning House. Tender Mercies provides housing and support services for those who are homeless and have a mental illness. So the legacy of the doctors who served their patients here continues with the work of Tender Mercies.