Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Riverside's Twin Sisters

I am shifting to the west side today, to the area of Riverside. Back in December and January, I helped Riverside resident, Dave Zelman, with a presentation on Cincinnati oldest suburb. It was a wonderful program and it opened many eyes to just how many Civil War era homes are still standing in Riverside but they continue to be threatened. Here are some general facts about Riverside:
  • Platted circa 1800 on land owned by Colonial Cornelius Sedam, Ethan Stone and Mrs. Jeremiah Reeder
  • David Sedam (Cornelius’ son) built a substantial estate called Riverside
  • Lower River road laid out in 1829/30 to connect Cincinnati, North Bend, and the Anderson Ferry
  • First speculative subdivision in the basin lands was on Reeder property in the 1840’s
  • Village incorporated August 20, 1867
  • Annexed to the City of Cincinnati in 1896
Twin Sisters at 3716 and 3712 River Road

The twin houses really are sisters, as they were built by Wright family. The head of the family was D. Thew Wright.
Source

The biography of D. Thew Wright from Cincinnati,the Queen City, 1788-1912
Entering upon active connection with the Cincinnati bar in 1850, Judge D. Thew Wright has since the initial period of his professional career occupied a commanding position among Cincinnati lawyers. He is, moreover, one of the city's native sons and has reached the age of seventy-seven years, his birth having occurred in 1825.
Judge Wright began his education in his native city, attending the public schools and the old Woodward College, wherein he continued his studies until he entered Yale in 1R44. He was graduated in 18.t7 and was one of the early college-bred men of this city… Subsequently he attended the Harvard Law School and was graduated in 1849 on the completion of a two-years' course… Sixty-two years' connection with the profession in Cincinnati gives Judge Wright the title of nestor of the city bar... He has always held to high ideals with strict regard to the ethics of the profession and has never allowed the zeal of an advocate nor the pleasure of success to make him forget that there are certain things due to the court, to his own self-respect,  and above all,  to justice and the righteous administration of the law. He was given the first supreme court commission of Ohio by President Hayes in 1873 and filled the position for three years, which period was passed in Columbus, Ohio. On the expiration of his first term he returned to Cincinnati…
In 1859 Judge Wright was united in marriage to Miss Juliet Rogers, a daughter of John and Anne Rogers, whose parents came from Virginia, her father being a prominent merchant of Cincinnati. Unto this marriage were born three sons and four daughters: Rogers, who is his father's partner in the practice of law; Nannie, who became the wife of Thomas Johnston of Boston, and after his death married Harry Colburn; Dan Thew, who married Alice Williams, of Cincinnati; William Shrewsbury; Annette, the wife of Edwin Besuden, of Cincinnati; Nathalie; and Marie Louise, the wife of Harry Eldridge Goodhue, of Boston.

With the public life of Cincinnati in many of its leading phases Judge Wright has been closely associated. He was a stalwart advocate of the Union cause during the Civil war and went to Pittsburg Landing to act as a volunteer nurse after the hotly contested engagement which there occurred. He was one of the earliest members of the Cincinnati Literary Club, with which he has always retained his membership and he likewise belongs to the Yale Club. In politics he has been a stalwart republican since the organization of the party and was very active in support of Fremont in the campaign of 1856. In 1862 he was offered the candidacy for congress but declined the nomination, as his ambition has never been in the line of office holding…
3708 River Road
D. Thew Wright's home once stood at 3708 River Road. During the 1880 Federal Census, the following people resided at his home:
D. Thew Wright, abt 1827, Ohio, Self (Head)
Juliette Wright, abt 1840 , Ohio,  Wife
Nina Wright, abt 1860, Ohio, Daughter
John R. Wright,  abt 1862, Ohio, Son
Dan Thew Wright, abt 1865, Ohio, Son
Willie Wright , abt 1867, Ohio, Son
Nettie Wright, abt 1871, Ohio, Daughter
Natalie Wright, abt 1874, Ohio, Daughter
Mary L. Wright, abt 1876, Ohio, Daughter
Lizzie Marshall, abt 1858, Kentucky, Servant
Narcissa Glora, abt 1857, Kentucky, Servant

Around 1895, D. Thew Wright's children were getting married. He built two homes on his property to the west of his home. His daughter, Annette, married Edwin Besuden, and moved into 3712 River Road. Her brother, Daniel T. Wright married Alice Williams and moved into 3716 River Road.
3712 River Rd, Home of Annette and Edwin Besuden
Daniel T. Wright was like his father and also became a successful lawyer . He received his law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1887. He was solicitor for the Village of Riverside from 1888 to 1890 and then was mayor of the village from 1890 to 1893. During this same time period, he was a county prosecutor and a Court of Common Pleas judge from 1893 to 1898. In 1903, he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Theodore Roosevelt.

As you can imagine, this appointment caused Daniel T. Wright to move to Washington D.C. His sister and her husband moved to Newark, Ohio. By 1910, the twin sister homes were rental property which has continued until today. Their father's original homestead was demolished in the 1930's for new homes.
3716 River Road, Home of Daniel T. and Alice Wright
Because of its architectural significance and its ties to a Supreme Court Justice, the home at 3716 River Road was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Today, the homes unfortunately have been foreclosed and now are bank owned. Between them, they currently house 9 apartments. The lot is over 2 acres, and many interior details are intact. 








If you are interested in helping rescuing these homes, the bank contact is Guardian Savings, Remo Loreto 513-661-9000. Thanks to Dave Zelman for the photos and the Riverside history!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No More Horsing Around

As a follow up to my last post, I have some sad new. The Bay Horse Cafe sign is no longer on the building. No news yet on where it went. One can only hope it is on its way to the American Sign Museum.


A new sign has been posted - Aronoff Center Deliveries
Source - Eric, Facebook follower
 A follower of my facebook page had this possible reason for the potential demolition:
The semi's that come in for shows at the Aronoff usually have a lot of trouble getting to the loading area from Gano St. off Main St. and sometimes even hit this building. Would I be right that the Aronoff/Cincinnati Arts Association is behind the demolition which is basically just the widening of the road detracting from the pedestrian street that is Main St. to accommodate Broadway shows? And if this is the case, shouldn't this have been better planned by the engineer? The Aronoff has frontage on three streets and takes up half of the block, you think they could've sacrificed some square-footage to meet their loading needs.
The research I have posted has been sent to the Cincinnati Preservation Association so that it can be represented at the Historic Conservation Board meeting.

While we await the HCB's verdit, let's take a trip down memory lane and read some articles about the Bay Horse Cafe that our wonderful Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County found and sent to me.
The Cincinnati Times-Star, May 22, 1938 p18
OLD BAY HORSE AWAKENS FROM 14-YEAR SLEEP; AGED PROPRIETOR AND EMPLOYES TO CELEBRATE
Cafe Is Just as It Was Before Prohibition Came.
HISTORIC SPOT
Owner Remains at His Post for Nearly 55 Years.
When Rip Van Winkle tottered back to his home after his 20-year sleep in the Catskills, even his old wife failed to penetrate the disguise afforded by his shaggy beard. It was another Rip than had wandered away a score of years before.
In Cincinnati there is a little cafe which has lain dormant during the 14 years of prohibition period. It was not asleep, exactly, but its proprietor and his employes passed from middle age into the 70-year class.
The glasses on the bar remain the same; the pictures on the wall are unchanged, but the voices of the waiters have grown shriller and the hand that turns the spigot to permit the flow of beer has less power.
But the Bay Horse Cafe, 216 East Fifth street, is flourishing now like the proverbial bay tree. The return of beer has put new life in the old steed, whose origin dates back to the days when the horse auctions were located in the neighborhood of Fifth and Sycamore streets.
For fifty-five years Gus Schmieg, 73, its proprietor, has worked within the four walls of this building. He is so happy over the present situation that despite his years he is planning as far ahead as October 31 for a celebration, which will be arranged in honor of his veteran employes.
OWNERSHIP DATE
“I am choosing the October date for a little celebration,” Schmieg said Monday, “because that is the date, 37 years ago that I became proprietor here. How well I remember it. It was the day of the ‘gold parade’ when the ‘gold’ Democrats and Republicans celebrated their victory over ‘free silver.’ They drank up quite a lot of beer.”
Schmieg started out as a storekeeper at the old Hotel Arlington, later the Hotel Dennison, Fifth and Main streets. William Brothers, bartender at the hotel, got the idea of a place of his own and opened the Bay Horse Cafe, across the street from the hotel. He took Schmieg with him.
“And for 55 years,” Schmieg said, “I have worked here in these walls.”
Old pictures given him and his predecessor and others, of the chase, of old stage favorites, of great sporting events, line the walls, just as they always did. The entire back of the old cafe is filled in by a huge picture, “Call to the Moose,” by Leon Lippert.
“cost me several hundred dollars, that one,” Schmieg says proudly.
LIST OF EMPLOYES
Among the employes that Schmieg proposes to fete are: Howard Cady, 69, who has been with Schmieg for ten years; Nick Borsche, in his fifties, who counts 13 years at the cafe; Sadie Barker, who has worked there 27 years; Albert Bramkamp and Tom Manley, present bartenders, who have served 10 and 13 years, respectively, at their present work.
“I never discharge anybody,” says Schmieg. “I’m careful when I hire and I don’t fire. Some leave, but they don’t get let out here. This thing of letting persons go because they are old is a big mistake. Age may slow up the worker a bit, but his faithfulness and other qualities make up for any little loss of vitality. My employes are like a happy family.”
During prohibition Schmieg ran his place for several years at a loss just to keep his employes in jobs.
The idea of the little celebration came to him, he said, at a dinner given to his sister, Mrs. Carrie Borsch, 80, to celebrate her birthday, Sunday, at a restaurant.
“First time she ever ate in a restaurant,” Schmieg said.
He and his sister live together at 3237 Harvest avenue and she is still active, keeping house for her brother. “We arise at 5 a.m. every morning, as always,” says Schmieg, “and she gets my breakfast ready.”
A salesman interrupted him to inquire what soap he would take for the cafe. “Same as always,” he said. Things do not change around here.
Post Times Star, Feb 26, 1962, p5-001
New Stable for Bay Horse
by Si Cornell
The Bay Horse will run around the corner and up the street to Joe Logan’s Grand Cafe at 625 Main.
It’s a joining of ancient saloons. (Joe Logan, 64, temporarily at least, is retiring.) The Bay Horse, probably the city’s oldest liquor dispensary, will run on License transfer papers are on their way to Columbus.
Nobody knows old the Bay Horse is. The late Gus Schmieg, who owned it from the 1890’s until his death in 1938, found Civil War papers in the basement.
Gus looked out the Bay Horse’s front window for 61 years, and named his saloon after a nag that escaped from the Fifth street horse auction when barrel booze was a nickel a shot. A bay horse actually ran into the place.
The Bay Horse has many distinctions. It held customers through at least three generations, and it probably put out the last nickel beer. It had moose heads and elder stateman, a fine chunk of wood for a bar and no spittoons because a trough of moving water flowed constantly.
But plans for the new Federal Bldg. said it had to go and the only question was where would be the new stable.
When the Bay Horse gallops to Main street, it will have a fitting home. The Grand Cafe’s back bar probably is close 100 years old and is washed, oiled and polished every day. The floor is hand-set tile in patterns that couldn’t be replaced for a fortune.
Joseph Michael Logan, proprietor, has been there since shortly after beer came back, and Jimmy Bright, son of the man Joe worked for then, now tends bar.
The Grand, like the Bay Horse, has its own traditions. Foremost, perhaps, is Joe Logan’s white shirt. It is the starchiest white shirt in town. Sometimes a fellow wonders how Joe turns his head without slitting his throat.
On the end stool is likely to be Stanley Schulte, the “Battling Schultz” of long ago, who answered the bell against the best. Next to him probably will be Tommy Murray, the nation’s champion jockey of the 1920s, who tells marvelous stories of sweat stained saddles when a whip across another jock’s face was worth 10 lengths. Tommy once fought and won a stretch duel with the great Earl Sande that way.
One difference between the two saloons. Bill Marck, who left his 110-passenger Florida yacht to come north and move his Bay Horse, accepted past practice of his predecessors and never served a woman. Courtly Joe Logan, and his wife, have served everyone. Will the new Bay Horse finally let a female pass the portals?
Both places are a bit of yesterday amid the hurly-burly of today. About the newest tune on the Grand’s juke box (mainly because Joe Logan’s Irish ancestry) is Bing Crosby singing “Galway Bay”, circa 1939.
Since most of the Bay Horse’s old-time customers – and there are a bunch with 50 years’ experience – now work or live a little farther uptown than they once did, the transition should cause scant problems. Both places once had customers who ate, drank beer, sang and played cards of an evening. Now, cards are verboten, and singing carries a 10 per cent entertainment tax.
Only thing Bay Horse habitues might have to learn is how to sip beer in the presence of women.
I love taking a walk through stories of the past. Let's hope the stories of 625 Main Street as Korf Jewelers and the Bay Horse Cafe get to live on in the building where they once resided.

Update - The Historic Conservation Board denied the demolition. Read the full description.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Not Just the Bay Horse Cafe

I was made aware about today's blog post from a few statuses on Facebook. A permit has been filed for demolition of this building at 625 Main Street, is well known for its old sign:
Source
Source
More about the Bay Horse Cafe in a bit, because this building has a long history before the bar moved to this location.
2005 Hamilton County Auditor
In 1849, Henry Korf, a 24 year old immigrant from Germany, opened a watch shop at 62 Main Street. By 1853, Henry moved his shop to 369 Main Street. Business must have been good, because by 1865, he built this home on Hackberry Street in East Walnut Hills:
2718 Hackberry Street
In 1873, Henry Korf moved to 277 Main (present day 625 Main). In 1886, the book "Leading Manufactures and Merchants of Cincinnati and Environs" had this to say about Mr. Korf:
Henry Korf, Watches, Clocks, and Jewelry, No. 277 Main Street.—Among the many professed watchmakers of the country there are few who have the experience and skill to make a perfect watch throughout, and when one is found who has made this important work the study of his life, it generally follows that his establishment is the place par excellence for those who desire first-class work. Mr. Henry Korf has for thirty-five years been engaged in business in the Queen City as a watchmaker and jeweler, and there is not in Cincinnati a more reliable expert or a more thorough master of his art than this veteran in his line of industry. Mr. Korfs experience in the practical work of a watchmaker covers a period of nearly half a century. He alters watches from slow to quick rate and adjusts them to the changes of heat and cold, guaranteeing his work to secure the nearest possible approach to absolute accuracy and warranting satisfaction as to workmanship and prices. He manufactures a marine chronometer which is more reliable than most instruments in use, and carries in stock a fine selection of the best watches, clocks, and jewelry of American and foreign manufacture. He is a German by birth, and is a genial gentleman and representative business man. - Source
1887 Sanborn Insurance - Source
Mr. Korf married shortly after arriving in Cincinnati to Mary and they had three children, all who lived to adulthood. Henry Jr was born in 1855 and joined his father's business along with his brother, George, born in 1860. Their sister, Mary, was born in 1857 and never married. She continued to live with her parents until their deaths.
1891 Sanborn Insurance - Source

Henry Korf, Sr died in 1912 at the age of 87. George also died in 1912, shortly before his father. Henry Jr was left to run the business and while he did marry Josephine Uphof, they never had any children. So he enlisted the help of his wife's family in the business.

In 1919, the Jewelers Circular Weekly wrote about the longevity of Henry Korf's business:
HENRY KORF founded the present retail jewelry business which bears his name in 1849 when stores of that character were scarce in Cincinnati. The business was built mainly at that time on the watch repair work of the city, which rapidly caused the business to expand. The original location was at 9th and Main St., but just 50 years ago he moved it to the location it now occupies, and has occupied since that day, at 625 Main St.
Mr. Korf did not live to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the business in the present store, but died several years ago. Two of his sons, Henry Korf, Jr., and George Korf, took hold of the business before his death. George Korf died in 1912. The present proprietor of the business went in with his father when he was 15 years old, and has been identified with that line for 49 years.
"Changes in the line carried during that time have been great," Mr. Korf declared. "Formerly every jewelry store carried a large line of optical goods, but today that line is handled almost exclusively by specialists. We handled a great deal of plated goods 50 years ago, but owing to the entrance of the department stores in that line, the retail jeweler has almost eliminated what was once one of his big stocks."
While the Korf family continued to own the building, in 1925 the business was moved to the Schmidt Building, believed to have stood on 5th Street. Henry Korf, Jr died in 1932 but I found a mention in "Chilton's Jewlers' Circular" in 1949 that John Tibbe, one time employee of the business was then its owner and quietly celebrate in 100th anniversary.

So what happened to 625 Main Street after 1925? The upper floors had been used as rental space since the building was built and by 1925, the space was being advertised as "Furnished Rooms for Rent". If you take a close look at the building, a very faded sign still hangs in advertisement.

Source
Source
The main retail space became a "lunch room" restaurant by 1930 run by Edward Sindlinger, William Bellew (1935) and Joseph Logan (1940).The building was owned by the Korf's until Henry's death and owership transferred to his nieces from his wife's family. They owned it until 1954.

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance - Source
The original Bay Horse had been a located at present day 216 E 5th Street, what is now the Federal Building. The Bay Horse dates back to 1878 when William Brothers opened his saloon at this address and first called it the Bay Horse Exchange in 1879. In 1900, the Bay Horse Exchange was run by Gus Schmieg and Edward Schott. According to the book Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and its Neighbors, before World World I and Prohibition, Cincinnati was know as the "wettest" city between New York and Chicago. On 5th Street alone, just between Main and Sycamore Streets, there were more than 20 saloons and restaurants. There was also a horse market just across the street, which is how the Bay Horse got its name. The Bay Horse was also known for the bartender shaking a gin fizz for 30 minutes.

Gus Schmieg attempted to continue the business during Prohibition by selling soft drinks, and in 1933 when alcohol once once again legal, Mr. Schmieg reopened the Bay Horse. He died in 1938 and Bill Marck took over the business. In 1962, construction of the Federal Building forced the Bay Horse Cafe to move to 625 Main Street.
The Bay Horse became to be known as a neighborhood trouble spot. In 2005 it was closed after it was found that it was operating without a liquor license and also after a shooting occurred during the day right outside its door. After the its closing, Quikstaff operated an employment firm for a short time but it appears the building has been vacant for some time. It had been for sale but now the owner has applied for a demolition permit that has to be reviewed by the Historic Conservation Board.
More information on the Bay Horse on the next blog post!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Levine Furniture Company

This week's post will feature more information on The Levine Furniture Company that was mention last week. What sparked my curiosity about the company was this, once again found in the sidewalk of a doorway on Main Street, in Over-the-Rhine:
Source - Digging Cincinnati History
As stated last week, The Levine Furniture Company first shows up at 1138 Main Street in 1925, but this was not their first location. The company was incorporated in 1919 and the store was located at 921 Central Avenue from this time until 1925.
921 Central Avenue near the corner of Central and Court Street, now the location of the Uptown Towers
The Levine Furniture Company was founded by Moses Levine and Julius Okrent. Moses was born in 1879 in present-day Lithuania. He emigrated to the United States in 1899, leaving his wife and two sons in the old country. By 1901, the family was reunited and continued to flourish, having three more sons and a daughter, who unfortunately, died within 2 months of her birth.

The Levines were part of a mass exodus of Jews. Almost 20% of the population emigrated from Lithuania from 1868 to 1914, during the Russian occupation of their country. Even more atrocities occurred during World War II, when most Jews were executed as part of the Holocaust.

When Moses first arrived in Cincinnati, he is listed as a peddler in the city directories. After the start of the furniture business, he becomes a successful businessman and eventually his sons, David, Sol, Abe, Harry and Samuel, also work for the family business. By 1940, Moses has handed off his business entirely to his sons and he died in 1942, living in Avondale at 3456 Rosedale Avenue, which is present-day Harvey Avenue.
3456 Harvey Avenue
David Levine left the family business by 1942 to start his own furniture store, but brothers Harry and Samuel were still running the business at 1138-46 Main Street. I could not find out when exactly the store closes, as my internet resources run out about this time frame.
1142-1146 Main St - 2005 Hamilton County Auditor
Since Levine's closed, the space has undergone a few name changes. In the photo above, it was then the Rhythm & Blues Cafe. Most recently, the location was called "CUE". Following are some photos over the years of the buildings from 1138 to 1146 Main.
1142-1146 Main St - 1999-2003 Hamilton County Auditor
1138-1140 Main St - Source
1138-1140 Main St - Source
1138-1140 Main St - Source
Source - Digging Cincinnati History