Thursday, June 25, 2015

Walnut Hills History Via Maps

I was recently doing some research in the Walnut Hills area, around the former Lane Seminary grounds. I thought my readers might find the map comparison interesting.
1847 Map of Hamilton County, Ohio by attorney William D Emerson, C. S. Williams and Sons publisher - Source
1869 Titus Map - Source
1912 Map of Cincinnati - Source
2015 Google Map
Old maps are especially helpful since they help identify former street names. I made a key to keep track of old/new names for future reference. Happy digging!

1869 Titus Map
2015 Google Map
Chestnut St
Foraker Ave
Sycamore St
Lincoln Ave
Chapel St
Chapel St
Kemper St
Yale Ave
Locust St
William Howard Taft Rd
Vine St
Myrtle Ave
Beech St
Kemper Lane
Maple St
Park Ave
Elm St
Victory Pkwy/Alms Pl
Mulberry St
Monfort St
Linden St / Willow St
Preston Ave

Friday, June 5, 2015

Foundations Exposed - Water Street, Vine to Walnut

The newest portion of Smale Riverfront Park has opened and now we all get to actually walk in the footsteps of history by entering the circa 1840s foundations that were restored and left exposed for seating. But what history was here? Let's take a look...
June, 2015 by Digging Cincinnati History
Although I was not present when the excavation occurred, using maps, deed records and city directories, the history of this location can be determined. This area was part of the first plat of Cincinnati, which can been seen in this map from 1802. The lots at the waterfront were typically 100 feet and the area encompassing Water Street between Vine and Walnut were Inlots 457, 458, 459 and 460. For this project, I concentrated on the area west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, since this is were the foundations are today.
Plan of Town of Cincinnati, Israel Ludow, 1802 - Source
Early paintings and drawings of the Cincinnati waterfront often shows the Public Landing area between Main and Broadway. Some images are available from the Cincinnati History Library but I am unable to reproduce them here. However, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County does have the 1848 daguerreotype panorama available on-line and with a little sleuthing, I figured out some of the oldest buildings.

1848, Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter daguerreotype panorama , Plate 1,  - Source
The Cincinnati History Library also has some maps available that also helped pinpoint the area. The deed records available also helped with some names of owners and leasees. So using this information, I went off to look at the city directories, looking for people who lived or worked on the south side of Water Street, between Vine and Walnut, and specifically numbers 59, 61 and 63 Water Street, before 1896.
Some prominent Cincinnati names are here including Isaac Burnet in 1825 and John Yeatman in 1834. These locations are vague, since they do not specify north or south side of Water Street.
These locations are vague, since they do not specify north or south side of Water Street.
These locations are on south side of Water Street.
Using deed and lease information, I could begin to determine exactly who lived in the lots in questions. I also determined using present-day maps with the bridge in place, that the address of the now-exposed foundations are most likely the western wall of 59 Water Street and the complete basement of 61 Water Street (pre-1896 addresss). In 1846, Issac C. Hull had his carriage making business at 59 Water and A. W & J. Patterson were rectifiers, people who blended raw whiskey to a certain taste, working at 61 Water Street. However in 1848-49 (the time of the daguerreotype), Patterson was running a produce houses and the next year, it was a feed store.

In 1850, the first floor of 61 Water Street became a coffee house, run by Matthew Keegan called the Robert Emmet House until 1863. The 1853-1885 directories show that at 59 Water Street, there was a grocer named John Holon. In 1857, Thomas Emery, who had arrived in Cincinnati in the mid-1840s, moved his candle and lard oil business from Water Street, between Walnut and Main to the southeast corner of Water and Vine. It appears he built new structures when the business moved, however, Thomas died in an accident at this location on December 30, 1857.
The Cincinnati Daily Enquirer (1852-1872);  Jan 1, 1858;  ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Cincinnati Enquirer; pg. 3
Thomas' sons, Thomas, Jr. and John J. Emery continued the business along with the many real estate holdings the family began to acquire. The Emery family began building many apartment buildings, hotels, theaters and landmarks associated with Cincinnati, including Carew Tower. The candle and oil business continued at Water and Vine until 1886, when it was moved to Ivorydale.  
This photo was taken during the construction of the Roebling Suspension Bridge, circa 1866. The buildings to the left of the bridge were located on Water Street. Thomas Emery's candle and oil business was located in the two buildings at the corner of Water and Vine, outlined in red. The area of the exposed foundations are outlined in blue. - Source 
During this time, Emery owned all the land and building from Vine to the Suspension Bridge, but only appears to have used southeast corner for their business, up to 63 Water Street. The building at 59 Water Street was a residence for a variety of laborers between 1857 and 1860. 
After the Emery's moved, a variety of businesses used these buildings (see the maps below), including the J. Weller Company, who were in the peanut and pickle business, the Bodmann's Tobacco Company,the F. A. Laidley Company (pork packers) and a bag company. In the early 1920's the Folz Grocery & Baking Company took over the buildings and in 1928 it was sold to the Kroger Grocery & Baking Company. Emery's continued to own the land and buildings until 1926.  
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

1950 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Kroger owned these buildings until 1960, when they were sold to Hamilton County. Other uses had been considered over the years but many people remember this land as parking lots to attend Cincinnati Reds and Bengals games. Today we get to enjoy our riverfront as a wonderful park, bringing us back to the river, where we can see where Cincinnati began.

Enjoy these images from the past into the present!
1920s Aerial - Source

1996 CAGIS Aerial - Source

2001 CAGIS Aerial - Source

2006 CAGIS Aerial - Source

2011 CAGIS Aerial - Source

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Dennison Hotel

I am so sorry for the bit of a sabbatical. I have been busy keeping up my Facebook page and researching for clients. However, it was recently brought to my attention that the Dennison Hotel building on Main Street with its iconic ghost sign was sold with the intent for possible demolition. So I was asked to dig into the history of the building to see when and why it was constructed.
Rearview of the Dennison Hotel building
Source - UrbanUp
The building was originally constructed in 1892 for the G. B. Schulte Sons Company. They were in the iron and steel business, making springs, axles, wood work, blacksmiths' and wagon makers' tools, carriage and wagon hardware, according to their listing in the Williams' City Directory. The company purchased the land in 1891 and demolished the prior two-story building.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The address in the article is an error. It was the current address of the company, not the future one.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Nov 22, 1891; p. 10; ProQuest Historical Newspapers
This article also has a typo in the company name. There is no E. B Shulte's Sons Co. in the directories.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Mar 31, 1892; p. 12; ProQuest Historical Newspapers
The G. B. Shulte Sons Company remained in business at this location until 1930,when it evidently closed either from the Great Depression or the increase in sales of the automobile. In 1931, Globe-Wernicke Service Company and Kelsall-Voorheis Inc, both office furniture companies, announced they would be using the first three floors of the building. The rest would be converted into a hotel, originally called the Main Hotel until 1933, when it was changed to the New Dennsion Hotel. The original Dennison Hotel had been located at Fifth and Main Streets and was demolished in 1932.

Cincinnati Enquirer; 01/14/1931; p. 26

By 1940, only Kelsall-Voorheis Inc. and the hotel remained. The hotel became known as a place for affordable housing for the less fortunate. Housing rates in 1999 were $30.63 per day and $88.40 to 110.50 per week.

In 2011, it was announced that the building had been purchased by The Model Group and, with help from 3CDC and the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the building would get a renovation to 63 studio apartments, but continue to serve as low income housing. Entitled the Ironworks Apartments, Talbert House was to provide supportive services for the residents and a storefront cafe for a place for residents to gain job experience.
Rendering of Ironworks Apartments - Soapbox Media
However, these plans did not come to fruition, and in July, 2013, the building was sold to CBD Holdings Inc. for $1,277,473. Just one month later, the building was sold again to the Columbia Oldsmobile Company for $744,431. There has not been a public announcement for the reasons for the sale, but word on the street is that the newest owner plans to demolish this building. Observers noticed this week that dumpsters were in place, but the workers at the building declared they were just removing leftover bedding and other items that could be a fire risk. The Cincinnati Preservation Association is aware of this possible demolition and have put it on their watch list.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

George F. Sands Montessori School

It was recently announced that the former George F. Sands Montessori School is to be converted into apartments for seniors. I decided to find out a bit more about the building and its history.

Construction was started in 1910, after demolishing the second school building to stand on this lot. The first was built in 1851 and was replaced in 1862 with a three-story building.
Built in 1862, this was the second school building. - Source
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
1904 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Cincinnati Enquirer; March 31, 1911; p. 2
George F. Sands - Source
The school was named for George F. Sands, a long-time teacher and principal of the 14th District and First Intermediate Schools. He was also a baseball player, serving as president of the Buckeye Townball Club in 1863 and president of the National Association of Baseball Players in 1867. A large bronze memorial was installed on the building in his honor. Dedication of the school occurred on May 24, 1913, with former students as far back as 1864 attending the ceremony. The school was built to educate children kindergarten through high school.
The building became Sands Montessori in 1979, after several existing Montessori programs combined to create one school. While the building had maintenance issues, including crumbling terra cotta, windows falling out and peeling paint, it remained open until 2002, when the school moved to Mount Washington.

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Google Aerial
The building was auctioned in 2012 and after remaining vacant, will become housing for seniors 55 years and older. TWG Development plans to convert the rooms into 65 apartments, including studios, one- and two-bedrooms. The auditorium, along with other structural elements will remain. Perhaps former students will now become residents, much like the former First District School on Liberty Hill.

Cincinnati Enquirer; May 25, 1913; p. 11
Cincinnati Enquirer; Sept. 5, 2001

Saturday, February 14, 2015

History of 412 Liberty Hill – School House Condos

A regular client of mine recently purchased a condo in this building and he wondered about the full history of the building. It is widely known that it was a school house, however he wanted to know what other uses the building had before its conversion to condos.
Annual Report, Volume 39 (Google eBook); Cincinnati (Ohio). Board of Education, Cincinnati Public Schools; 1868 – Cincinnati, Ohio
According to the Annual Report of Cincinnati Public Schools, written in 1868, construction on the school building began in November, 1866, after David Sinton sold the lot of land on Liberty Street. The architects were William H. Stewart and William Walter and the building was finished in August, 1868. The total cost of construction, including the lot, was $90,045.

The annual report includes a detailed description of the building:
This building is 66 feet wide by 112 in length all the exterior line of the walls; is four stories high above the cellar on the front and west sides, three stories high above the coal cellars, for two rooms in length, on the east side of the hall. It has six outside entrances; has one principal stairway from each of the main entrances, and one flight of stairs from the west side to the first main floor. The stairs are of iron, supported in the walls, and have neat hand-rails on each side. The building has 21 school rooms, and an office for the Principal. The front rooms in the fourth story can be thrown into one by means of a rising partition. The Janitor has three rooms. All the school-rooms, but the three in the basement, have wardrobes, which are entered from the rooms only. Two rooms marked" C," on the basement plan, are for coal and changeable furniture. There is a cellar beneath all but the two last named rooms. Seats are provided for 1,200 pupils.
The heating is done by JOHN GROSSIUS’ “New Patent School-house Stove,” supplied with a cold-air flue taken into the heater between the joists of the room, lined with zinc. Provision is also made for warming by "indirect" radiation by steam-pipe coils in chambers, or by furnaces. Each room has two flues, 8 by 16 inches, lined with tin, furnished with 10 by 16 registers, to convey the warm air, should this method of warming be used-one ventilating flue, 12 by 21 inches, in the walls, lined with flooring, and neat pannel work in the rooms, finishing on the roof with Emerson's ejecting ventilators. In the rooms these flues connect with platforms that have neatly perforated risers for the exit of the air at the floors in cold weather, and have sliding valves moved by cord and pulley at the ceiling of the room for the escape of the warm foul air.
Fourteen school-rooms have light from their two external walls, seven school-rooms have one outside wall, and receive the light from one side only. The walls from the bottom of the water-table are built with brick. The dressings and weatherings are of free-stone, cornice of galvanized iron; the roof is of Vermont slate, flashings of lead, lightning rods of copper. The plastering on the walls is finished under the float, and colored and blocked to imitate granite. The surface of the lot, inside of the fence walls, equals 1,700 square yards, and is paved with brick. The surface of the lot in the rear of the house is elevated nearly fifteen feet above Liberty street, and is reached by flights of stone steps, as shown on basement plan. - 
Annual Report, Volume 39 (Google eBook); Cincinnati (Ohio). Board of Education, Cincinnati Public Schools; 1868 – Cincinnati, Ohio
 The report also included the following drawings of the building:

1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
A fire occurred in the school on April 11, 1911, luckily during the lunchtime break and it was noted in the Cincinnati Enquirer article that few students were in the school at the time. All students and teachers who were in the building escaped without injury. The fire was suspected to have started in a defective flue and spread quickly because of the large ventilation shafts throughout the buildings. The shafts allowed burning embers to travel down to the lower floors and basement. One of the classrooms on the third floor fell down upon firefighters but all were uninjured, except for some cuts and bruises. The entire roof in the front of the building was destroyed along with six classrooms and estimates of total damage were $5,000 to $8,000. Classes continued in other parts of the building while repairs were underway.

In 1914, the Rothenberg School was ready to accept all the students from the First District School. However, the building did not remain vacant for long. It became the Boys' Special School, used for vocational training. In 1918, it was used to house soldiers training for World War I.
Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Jul 25, 1918; pg. 9; ProQuest Historical Newspapers
Cincinnati Enquirer (1872-1922); Sep 10, 1918; p. 5; ProQuest Historical Newspapers
The building remained as a vocational high school until the early 1940's. Various plans for the building were considered, including using it as office space for the Recreation Commission. In 1945, it was auctioned and conversion began into 24 apartments for veterans returning from World War II.
Cincinnati Enquirer; Dec. 1, 1945; Sec. 2, p. 1
Cincinnati Enquirer; Dec. 1, 1945; Sec 2, p. 1
Cincinnati Post; Apr. 20, 1946; p. 9
In 1978, the then-vacant building underwent conversion from apartments into condominiums as the Prospect Hill neighborhood underwent a renaissance, By 1980, the conversion was just about complete, after finding difficulties in financing the project.
Cincinnati Post; Apr. 4, 1980; p. 1B
The condos are successful today and some of the 1980 original buyers are still living there. It is a testament to how vision and hard work can turn around a vacant 100+ year old building into desirable housing today.