Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brownstone on West Ninth

This home caught my eye a while ago, when I noticed it was for sale. Then recently, Cranewoods Development, LLC, contacted me for a research report, letting me know the house had a buyer. I was glad to help find the history of this beauty for the new owners.
219 W Ninth - Source
This home is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Ninth Street Historic District but the nomination information did not have anything specific on this home. So off I went digging...
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
CAGIS - 2013
I compared the maps above to verify the Hamilton County Auditor's Year Built date of 1888. The maps do verify that the building on the 1887 map is not the same shape and location of the building on the 1891 map, however the 1891 map does match up with the 2013 map. So the year built date is pretty close.

At the request of the developer, I went to the Hamilton County Recorder's office to research the owners of the building. As is often the case in the downtown area, the owner and the occupants were different as this home was built as a real estate investment and was a rental property from the time it was built. The lot was originally part of Jacob C. Burnet's subdivision, but at the time of construction, the lot was owned by what was believed as Margaret Rose, according to the Deed Index. But a closer look at the actual deed shows that whoever transcribed the deeds to the index read the name wrong. Her name was actually Margaret Ross!
Deed Index; 4th Series; 1886-1903
Deed between Lydia Eggleston and Margaret Ross
Shortly after the home was finished, the first renter in 1889 was Myer S. Rosenthal, who was the son of Henry Rosenthal, who had a successful whiskey distillery.They sold such brands as "1881 Rock Castle Rye", "Fern Hill Rye", "Forest Grove", "Lion Head Rye", "Meadow Brook", "Mephisto Rye", "O' Hare Malt", "Red Letter Rye", "Rosedale", and "Wm. Berkele." Mr. Rosenthal only lived at the home through 1891.
Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Sep 27, 1888; pg. 6
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
From 1893 until 1898, Dr. Charles S. Muscroft lived and had his practice here. From 1900 until 1910, various tenants were residents here including two music teachers. In 1906 ownership changed to Sarah Ann Johnson, who continued the home as a rental property. In 1910, Adelaide Moak began a nurses home here with 14 nurses listing the address as their place of work and/or home. Mrs. Helen Kennedy took over the nurses home in 1911, as evidenced by the article below:
Cincinnati Enquirer; Mar 19, 1911; pg. 4
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
From 1915 until approximately 1986, the building was a rooming house. Ownership changed again in 1934 with the death of Ms. Johnson. It was inherited by her relative, Joseph Berning, who in turn sold it to Mabel Williamson. Mabel sold it again in 1959 to Lettie Freeman, who is listed in the 1961 and 1965 city directories as offering furnished rooms at this address.

In 1982, Michael L. Krienik purchased the building, converting it into offices. He remained the owner until 2010 and various businesses rented space here. After its sale in 2012, plans were underway to convert the building back into a single family home because of the increasing demand for housing in the downtown area. Andy Howe of Cranewoods Development, LLC, is taking care to maintain as much of the historic aspects of the home while renovating it into a modern living space. The following pictures were taken before renovations began:
Front Entry

Front rooms on first floor with original pocket doors
Detail on the fireplace on what will be the the living room.
Beautiful ceiling medallion!
Main stairway. There is a second stairway to the second floor in the rear of the home

Stairway from the second floor
This front room on the second floor will become the master suite with the conversion of the adjoining bedroom into a full bath.
Another ceiling medallion
I recently was invited to take a look at the home while it is under construction:
This plaque was added before the realization that Rose should have been Ross. At least it has a story to go with it now!

163 W. 9th Street was the address before the 1895-96 street renumbering changed it to 219 W. 9th
Wrought iron gate still remains at the front entrance along with the fence 
Diamond shaped windows on the second floor hallway
The laid stone foundation in the basement
One of the many radiators still in the house

I can't wait to visit again when the construction is complete. Look for an update soon!

Monday, November 18, 2013

School to Condos in East Walnut Hills

You may not guess from the appearance of this building at the corner of Ashland and Burdett Avenues in East Walnut Hills that it was once home to the first Walnut Hills High School:
Now home to the Schoolhouse Lofts, this building was completed in 1895. Discussions began in 1891 of the need for Walnut Hills to have its own high school, as the community was growing and over-crowding became a concern at Woodward and Hughes Schools. Plans for the building were submitted to the Board of Education on June 23, 1893 by architect H. E. Siter. The building was to cost $100,000 for a three-story building plus an attic.

The building opened on September 10, 1895 for the first day of school, with approximately 623 students. A dedication ceremony was held on October 11th of the same year. A Cincinnati Enquirer reporter described the building as such:
 The Cincinnati Enquirer ; Oct 12, 1895;pg. 8
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
The Cincinnati Enquirer; May 17, 1896;pg. 25
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

The school started as a traditional grades 9 to 12 high school, but in 1919, it was decided to changed to a classical high school for grades 7 to 12 with a college preparatory program, which continues today. With the increased enrollment the building soon became too small and overcrowding was such a problem that in 1922, with 970 students expected, two portable buildings were erected. Soon after, discussions began for yet a bigger school and in 1929, plans were approved for the "new" Walnut Hills High School which still stands today on Victory Parkway. This new building was expected to cost $1,200,000 to complete and opened in 1931.
Walnut Hills High School - Source
What was to become of the old building? Discussions in 1933 included converting the building into a college for African-Americans, but it lacked community support:
Cincinnati Enquirer; Feb. 12, 1933; pg. 10
The building was then converted into the Burdett Elementary School. On April 4, 1963, a fire set by a student in a third-floor cloak room destroyed the fourth-floor attic and caused the building lose its turrets and attic. The decision was made to replace it with a flat roof to allow the school to remain open. In 1979, the school closed and the building was put up for sale.
Vandals did not take long to begin to damage the building. In 1980, developed Patricia Brumagin attempted to purchase the building for $55,000 to turn the school in a 40-unit condominium project, but these plans fell through. Then in 1982, the building sold to Fred Craig for $45,000. Craig planned to convert the building into 30 apartments but needed to seek placement on the National Register of Historic Places to receive tax incentives. This would have most likely involved restoring the roof and turrets to the building. Unfortunately, this plan did not come to fruition either and the building remained vacant for the next twenty-two years.
In 2004, Keith Glaser of the Excalibur Development Corporation began work on the building to create the Schoolhouse Lofts. The projects was estimated to cost $6.1 million and planned for 31 condominiums with seven different floor plans, all with two bedrooms and two baths. The units became available in 2005 with an average price of $175,000. However, trouble began in 2009 with the crash of the housing market and the developed ran out of money to finish the units. Andy Howe of Cranewoods Development, LLC, came in during 2011 and finished the five remaining units.

Luckily with developers like Glaser and Howe, this building remains standing today. Developer Fred Craig stated in a March 8, 1982 Cincinnati Post article, "I've always liked old things. I lived in Europe at one time. I saw there what preservation means. People recognize the fact that just because something is old, you don't have to tear it down."