Friday, October 19, 2012

"Elsa" - Another Werk Home in Westwood

Continuing the series of Werk family homes, "Elsa" on Fleetwood Avenue is also commonly know as the Werk Mansion.
Fleetwood Avenue - Source
Casimir L. Werk Sr. was born in 1844, the eldest child of Michael and Pauline LaFeuille Werk. He followed in his father's footsteps, becoming director of the M. Werk Company. In 1878, he married Pauline Herancourt, daughter of George Herancourt, president of the Herancourt Brewing Company.

Original Sketch of C.L. Werk's home, published in 1880. Source
Biography of Casimir L. Werk, as published in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography in 1922:
WERK, Casimir Louis, manufacturer, was born in Cincinnati, 0., July 4, 1844, son of Michael and Pauline (LaFeuille) Werk. His father, a native of Alsace, was the founder of the M. Werk Co., manufacturers of soap, candles and glycerin at Cincinnati, also founder of M. Werk & Sons, manufacturers of native wines, Cincinnati. After completing his education at Polytechnicum, Karlsruhe, Germany, the son entered his father’s soap business, and upon the latter’s death, in 1893, took the management of the business. He had formerly been a director in the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co., and at his death was a member of the directorate of the Cincinnati Union Stock Yards Co., Dayton & Michigan Railroad Co., and Foulds Milling Co., Chicago. Being a good violinist, he found his chief recreation in music. He held membership also in the Business Men’s and Western Hills Country Clubs (Cincinnati). Politically he was a Republican. A man of large vision and high ideals, his dominating personal characteristics were unlimited capacity for work, a surplus of energy, keen foresight, and minuteness in detail. During his long residence in Cincinnati, he was an essential part in every movement and undertaking that had for its purpose the improvement of the Queen City or the betterment of the people. He was married in Cincinnati, 0., Feb. 27, 1878, to Pauline, daughter of George Herancourt, president of the Herancourt Brewing Co., and left six children: Casimir Michel, vice-president of the Herancourt Brewing Co.; George H., a physician; Emil E., secretary and treasurer of the M. Werk Co.; Casimir L. Jr., a broker; Pauline L., wife of Arthur Kleve, and Lillian E., wife of Edwin C. Price. He died in Cincinnati, 0., Nov. 8, 1919.
After Casimir L. Werk's death, the home transferred ownership to Casimir L. Werk, Jr. and his wife Elsie Haberthear, and they did not have any children. Casimir, Jr died in 1955 and Elsa, for whom the home is named, remarried. She passed away in 1986.

Living Room redecorated by Elsa Werk - Source

Circa 1960's - Source
The home then went through some several owners until 2009, when it was foreclosed upon. Luckily, the current owners of making strides towards its restoration. The following pictures are from the real estate listing  by Ron Schaible in 2009.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Werk Castle - Gone But Not Forgotten

I have been curious about this home for some time now and so had one of my Facebook followers. He asked if I knew of any interior photos of the home. So I went off, "digging" for information.

The home above, known as Werk Manor, Werk Place, and Werk Castle, was built in 1897 by Eugenie M. Werk, spinster daughter of Michael Werk. Mr. Werk was born in Alsace-Lorraine and emigrated to the United States and 1832, began a soap and candle company in Cincinnati. This business was quite successful and Mr. Werk was also well-known for his wine and champagne. Eugenie's sister, Adele Werk Oskamp, lived at Willadel, featured earlier on this blog.

Below is an article, describing the decorating of the home, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, August 22, 1897:
LAVISH.: The Interior Decorations Are Nearing Completion in Miss Werk’s Palatial Home
pg. 32
The interior decorations of Miss Werk’s beautiful new home, nearing completion, on Harrison avenue, Westwood, will, as a whole, surpass anything before attempted in this vicinity. Only decorators whose names stand at the head of their various specialties, and well known in the decorative world, are engaged upon the work. It is safe to say that in point of adhering to the style of Louis XVI., and from an artistic point of view, the music room and the drawing room will surpass any decoration in any home west of New York City. Mr. W. F. Behrens, a celebrated decorator from New York City, has been brought to this city for the express purpose of supervising the decorations and furnishings.
The Louis XVI color scheme in purple and gold, ivory and cream is being carried out to perfection in the music room. Here the gas fixtures, the furniture and decorations will be in perfect taste throughout. The ceiling will be a work of art, with an oval figure panel in the center. This is now being executed by Virgil Tojetti, of New York City. At either end of the ellipse will be medallions of Verdi and Wagner, supported by Cupids embodied in the decoration. Mr. Clemens Barnhorn, of this city, is modeling the Cupids in relief. He is doing the work with great skill. His designs terminated in the scrolls of the Louis XVI style. This beautiful center panel will be surrounded by electric lights recessed in the ceiling. The corner pieces in this room will be emblematic of music. In the center of the bow window will be a handsome marble statue which Miss Werk ordered to be made when she was in Tunis. The statue has arrived and is at present in the Art Museum. The walls of this room will be reserved for rare works of art. An important feature will be the organ, which is being built in the wall, with a handsome Gothic front.
The reception room, adjoining the music room, will be in the Marie Antoinette style. The color scheme will be carried out in delicate blues, greens, cream and ivory. The ornamentation of the ceiling will be in blue gray. An elaborate design will be painted from the palette. This effect will be mother-of-pearl, with exquisite La France roses strewn in rich profusion, petals gracefully failing. The wall will be covered with silk damask, which is being especially manufactured in France. The tasselated floor of this artistic apartment will have a handsome Aubuson rug, which is being made to order. The fireplace will be Alta onyx; the gas fixtures of Ormolu gold.
The sitting room will be in the Empire style, with all the woodwork in mahogany. The general color scheme of this room will be green and gold, in the wonderful Rookwood coloring. In this room the facing for the mantel is being made by A. R. Valentien, of Rookwood. A beautiful head, by A. Van Briggie, will occupy a conspicuous place. The greens on the walls will be translucent, corresponding with the Rookwood ware.
The breakfast room, which is almost completed, is very dainty. Colonial in design, with dome ceiling. The color scheme is green and ivory, the ornamentation in ivory, blending into soft greens. The domed ceiling will be ornamented with morning glories and sweet peas. The furniture will be white mahogany.
The dining room is being executed in the Henri II of France style. The frontispiece of the fireplace will be an exquisite bronze panel, by Clodion of Paris, surrounded by Alta onyx. All fixtures will be en suite; woodwork and furniture of mahogany.
The library had been made in the Gothic style. The color scheme is in vert antique bronze and tobacco browns. The woodwork will be of Flemish oak. The fire place and mantel will be made of ceramic mosaics, with intricate Gothic design. This mantel and fireplace are now being made in England. The gas fixtures, andirons, &c., in the library of vert antique bronze. Here there will be an inlaid floor with fur rugs.
The spacious hall will be in the Francis I style. The color scheme will be green with woodwork in oak and fixtures in Bower-Barf. There will be an oak floor with antique Persian rugs throughout.
The billiard room is in red and oak.
Miss Werk’s room is in tallow and red, with dainty floral decorations. The woodwork in this apartment is of cherry.
The room being prepared for her niece, Miss Eugenie B. Werk, is a perfect example of the Empire style. The color scheme is a delicate rose and cream with delicate tracery of vine depending from the frieze. The woodwork and furniture will be of bird’s eye maple.
The room being prepared for her nephew, Mr. Louis M. Werk, is also in the Empire style, green being the prevailing shade. The woodwork is of curly birch. All the chambers on the second floor will be in the Empire style, with furniture to harmonize, the most pleasing of the guest chambers being in sky blue. This palatial residence will represent all that cultured taste and art can produce.
After Miss Werk's death in 1925, her nephew, Louis Werk continued to live in the home until approximately 1935, when he moved out and closed up the house. The house was demolished in 1939 to make way for a new subdivision.

Cincinnati Post, August 30, 1939; pg. 8
Familiar Landmark Will Be Torn Down to Make Way for New Subdivision; Hitching Post to Stand
By Paul Cunningham 
Soon the ring of the workmen’s tools will fill the air and the $250,000 residence of the late Eugenie M. Werk will crumble to dust like the ancient manors of medieval days.
The familiar Cincinnati landmark standing like a barons castle at 2701 Harrison avenue, is to be torn down to make way for a new subdivision. Only the hitching post in the driveway which has wintered 90 years will remain for sentimental reasons.
The 26-room mansion constructed in 1896 under the direction of the late Miss Werk, daughter of Michael Werk, the champagne maker, and Mrs. Pauline Werk, was purchased recently by the Globe Wrecking Co. After the valuable pieces of furniture and ornaments are sold, the building will be wrecked.
The mansion was practically imported from Italy and Germany. Miss Werk, an extensive European traveler, selected entire rooms of European castles and had her architect draw them on the spot.
She then had identical materials imported, along with foreign workmen to construct them.
The dining room, an imposing structure in itself, cost $20,000, it is said. A large room, it has a fireplace made of bronze and finished in hand-carved mahogany. The beams are solid hand-carved mahogany and the ceiling is raised, hand-painted ornamental plaster.
All bedrooms are finished in a different manner, with chandeliers of different design in each. The stairways are solid oak with Miss Werk’s initials E.M.W., hand-carved in 6-inch letters.
Pictures from many foreign countries line the walls of the second-floor library. The walls are of hand-carved oak. The oak fireplace is finished in hand-worked mosaic. A winding stairway to the observation tower, reported in highest point in Cincinnati, leads from the library.
Brief historical notes of the Werk family are contained in a solid leather archway on the second floor directly opposite a colored glass window in which the old homestead is pictured.
An old barn stands to the rear of the home. Underneath is a wine cellar 50 feet deep and 300 feet long. Only a few charred barrels in the two-story cellar link the present with the glorious past.
The following interior pictures were included with the above article. So far these are the only interior pictures I have found. I have tried to contact descendants of the Werk family, in hopes that more may be discovered.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Westwood Home To Retirement Community

It is time to give the west side of Cincinnati some attention as well. There are some amazing homes in the Westwood area, where many successful families made their homes in the 1800 and 1900's.

The home above, located at 2373 Harrison Avenue, was built in 1896 for William S.P. and Adele Oskamp. They named their home "Willadel", a combination of their first names. It was built on land owned by Adele's father, Michael Werk, who was a wealthy soap manufacturer and owned large parcels of land in Westwood.  Adele's mother was Pauline LaFeuille, namesake for present-day LaFeuille Avenue, which ran down the old property line between Michael Werk and his son, Casimir Werk (see below).

1884 Map - Moessinger & Bertsch - Source
William and Adele Oskamp's first home was on a small parcel of her father's land (at center).
Willadel was built on a larger parcel on Harrison Avenue in 1896.
The home cost $40,000 at the time it was built and the architect was William W. Franklin, a prominent architect in Cincinnati in the late 1800's. Franklin was also the designer of Henry Pogue's home.

William S.P. Oskamp was born in Cincinnati 1855 to a successful jeweler, Clemens Oskamp and his wife, Mary Fisher Oskamp. Clemens was born in Prussia and came to Cincinnati in 1840.
William S. P. Oskamp. Among the men prominently identified with the commercial interests of Cincinnati none is better known or stands higher in business circles than William S. P. Oskamp, head of the Oskamp Jewelry Company. Thoroughly conversant with the details of his business, energetic in all his commercial transactions, Mr. Oskamp occupies an enviable position in the jewelry trade of this city, not alone for his many business qualities, but for every trait that marks a true Christian gentleman and a man of honor. He was born in Cincinnati September 8, 1855, a son of Thomas Clemens and Maria (Fisher) Oskamp, pioneers of Cincinnati. For more than a quarter of a century Clemens Oskamp was prominently identified with the jewelry trade in this city, and through industry, pluck and perseverance he became one of its substantial and valued citizens. Although the scope of his work, in connection with his business, was always broad he was also interested in civic and social affairs, and was a strong factor in all measures tending toward the public good. His efforts were not confined to lines resulting in individual benefit, but were evident in those fields where general interest and public welfare are involved, and though it has been many years since he passed from the scene of earthly activities, his work remains as a force for good in the community. William S. P. Oskamp acquired his education in the public schools of Cincinnati and the St. Xavier College of this city. He began his business career in his father's jewelry store, and has since devoted his time and energy to the building up of one of the largest and most complete enterprises of its kind in the Middle West. After his father's death, in 1887, he became president of the company, and has since filled this position with credit to himself and satisfaction to all concerned. He is a man of ability and great business capacity, and is universally recognized as an authority on all matters pertaining to the jewelry industry. He has visited Europe many times for the purchase of diamonds and other jewelry, and has numerous personal and business relations with many of the leading jewelers and diamond firms of Paris, Amsterdam and other European cities. On November 25, 1876, Mr. Oskamp was united in marriage with Miss Adele, daughter of Michael Werk, of Westwood, and to this union were born five children: W. Herbert, E. Gordon, William W., Adele Regina, and Elsa Pauline. Two sons are engaged in the jewelry business with their father, and William W. is president of the Oskamp Ignition Company. They are numbered with the progressive and enterprising business men of the city. - 1920 Memoirs of the Miami Valley, Vol. 3 
Plaque at 26 W. 7th Street, Cincinnati - Source
The Oskamp Nolting Company bought this building in 1947 and sold in in 1967.
William passed away June 21, 1933 and Adele on January 1, 1936. There were talks about making the home into a private school in 1938, but the home, along with a three story barn and two separate homes for servants, were sold in 1946 to The Baptist Home for the Aged. It has remained a retirement home since, now called Judson Village Retirement Community.

The following pictures were found at