Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fairview Park and the Home of Isaac J. Miller

I went for a drive to Fairview Park to check out the scenic overlooks when something else caught my eye.
Along Fairview Park Drive - Digging Cincinnati History
This appeared to be pretty old and not made for the park, so I decided to do some "digging" into the history of the area.
1869 Titus Atlas - Source
This map shows the area in 1869, when what is now Fairview Heights had been just started to be developed. The land where the park is today was originally owned by Colonel John Riddle, who served in the Revolutionary Way and came to Cincinnati in 1790. After his death in 1847, a subdivision of the land he owned was created in 1855.

Original Plat Map from the Hamilton County Recorder Office
Click to enlarge

Original Plat Map from the Hamilton County Recorder Office
Click to enlarge.
When the subdivision was platted, streets were added, including Fairview Avenue. At this time, McMicken Avenue was called Bates Road and Browne Road.

In the early 1860's, Isaac J. Miller and his wife Martha N. Miller purchased Lot 219 from Samuel M. Riddle, the youngest child of Col. John Riddle. They built their home on this lot and also made other land investments in the area, including two parts of Lot 218.
From the "Fairview Heights Souvenir", June 1895 - Source
Isaac J. Miller was a well-known lawyer, starting his practice in 1856 and also served his city in various positions. At the time of this publication, he served as one of the Police Commissioners and he also ran for Mayor of Cincinnati in 1894, losing to John A. Caldwell. He also served on in the Board of Councilmen, serving as president in 1874.

From the "Fairview Heights Souvenir", June 1895 - Source
Mr. Miller also fought for streetcar access to Fairview Heights, and was the celebrated champion when Route 23 and the Fairview Incline opened in 1894, allowing easier access to the neighborhood.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Jul 2, 1894; pg. 8
From the "Fairview Heights Souvenir", June 1895 - Source
Isaac and Martha had four children, Isaac, Jr., who became a doctor, Martha, Hester and Edith. Mr. Miller passed away in 1910 at the age of 77, after battling diabetes and gangrene. Mrs. Miller died in 1913 at the age of 75 after a fall at friend's home. Their estate sold the home on Fairview Avenue to Edward H. Hoffeld around 1914.

Edward H. Hoffeld was a manager and then became the president of the Ferdinand Dieckmann Company, sheet metal manufactures. In 1940, he sold the house to his brother, who rented out the house. Amazingly, the house still stands today and is currently rented as a multi-family house!
2367 Fairview Avenue - Tim Jeffries
From the "Fairview Heights Souvenir", June 1895 - Source
So what about that "spring house" on Fairview Park Drive? According to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, this opening went to a wine cellar:
The cellar belonged to Isaac Miller, who operated a tavern on the hillside and also who was a prominent political figure. In it was kept the wine his patron sipped while admiring the view. The old house was bought with one of the 58 parcels that went to make the park, all for approximately $67,000 and totally 31.126 acres. The Fairview incline traversed a part of what is now the park, doubtless transporting many a guest to the old tavern. - Cincinnati Enquirer, June 20, 1937
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 20, 1937; pg. 6
1914 Topographical Map of Cincinnati - Source
This shows the road the went from Fairview Avenue to the location of the wine cellar and tavern.
And the house on the hill that may have held the tavern was located behind the house on the same parcel, but no longer stands today.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Amazing to think the main house has stood on its Fairview hill for over 150 years. If walls could talk, what great stories it could tell!


2 comments:

  1. Although the switchback is still fully-graded and makes for a pretty nice trail down to Fairview Park, I have seen no evidence of the house back there, and there doesn't appear to be a flattened spot where a foundation may have been. I will have to do some more investigation.

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  2. I'm renting at the Miller house now in the 2nd floor opposite of the tower; it's kept up pretty well and is very comfortable!

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