Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Mansion in Avondale

My fellow preservationist, Paul Wilham, frequently writes about "preservation bargins" on his blog, Victorian Antiquities and Design. One of his latest post was about this amazing mansion at 3800 Reading Road in the Avondale neighborhood listed at a mere $175,000.

Well seeing a beauty like that, I just couldn't resist finding out more about what kind of person has an amazing home built. So off I went digging...

I first came across this reference from the book "Cincinnati, a guide to the Queen City and It's Neighbors" which was first written by the Federal Writer's Project in 1943 (compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Ohio). At the time of the book, this mansion was The Jewish Center. The book also states that the mansion was designed by Matthew H. Burton in 1919 for William O'Dell who was known as the "King of the Bucket Shops".  As defined by the U.S. Supreme Court a bucket shop is "[a]n establishment, nominally for the transaction of a stock exchange business, or business of similar character, but really for the registration of bets, or wagers, usually for small amounts, on the rise or fall of the prices of stocks, grain, oil, etc., there being no transfer or delivery of the stock or commodities nominally dealt in." (Gatewood v. North Carolina, 27 S.Ct 167, 168 (1906).)

William O'Dell was born in 1859 in Ohio but moved sometime before 1897 to Savannah, Georgia, where is shown working as a banker. In 1898, Mr. O'Dell is living in Cincinnati in a flat at the corner of 9th and Race Streets and works at  W. J. Odell & Co., brokers, whose office was in the Carew Building. Mr. Odell moved to a flat at 199 W. 7th Street from 1899 until 1904, where he moves to the mansion at the corner of Reading Road and Dana Avenue.

Hmmm, the article says it was built in 1919, but the city directories show it was finished by 1904! I love finding these bits of information!

Mr. Odell died in February, 1907, three years after he built his fine home. His wife, Louise, continued to live there through 1909.

In 1911, a new owner is shown, Dennis Weiskopf and family. Mr. Weiskopf was one of the owners of The Nivision-Weiskopf Company, which manufactured bottles and lables from the 1900's until the 1980's. Mr. Weiskopf continued to live in this mansion until 1921.
Nivison-Weiskopf Sample Bottle found on eBay

In 1921, the owner is then Wilton A. Foster and also the address of his realty company. The available city directories on-line show him still living there in 1930-31. He could be the owner mention in the article from the book above, who leased it to The Jewish Center in 1935. 

The next reference I can find is that "Cincinnati's Wittstein Legion Post bought a dwelling at Reading and Dana Avenue as a veterans home."

The property was also once the Cincinnati Christian College, shown as the Cincinnati Baptist Theological Seminary on the ownership records as purchasing in 1968. They remained the owners until 2005.

Look for my next post to feature two homes in the Knox Hill area of South Fairmount.


  1. Avondale has so many beautiful and amazing buildings. I did a blog post once on Theda Bera (born Theodosia Goodman) the famous silent film actress who was originally from Avondale and attended Walnut Hills and UC. Here's her wikipedia entry:

    Since my original blog post, it appears that her home has been demolished. I still have a link to it on my blog though. It makes me sad that is was destroyed without any knowledge of who previously inhabited it.

  2. By the 1960s, Nivison-Weiskopf was a large independent producer of corrugated paper boxes, special cartons and retail point-of-purchase displays located in Reading, Ohio, on the east side of Reading Road less than a mile north of Galbraith Road. The automotive parts companies (mufflers, radios, other parts) in the Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky region were some of its major customers. My first three "summer jobs" were in its manufacturing plant, in which they operated their own "corrugating machine," which took wide rolls, over 1,000 lbs each, of Kraft paper and converted the rolls into corrugated sheets of different "weights" and layers, from which the finished products were eventually fabricated. In order to work in the factory, I had to join the then "International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulfite and Paper Mill Workers Union." There were as many "female" brothers in the factory as were male brothers. One of the best educations about the "real world" (as it then existed) one could get.

  3. I worked in the industrial packaging business for 25 years. One of our the early 90's the plant he is referring to. I believe it has since ceased operations.

  4. do you know anything about the "urban renewal" of the Eden Ave area in the 1970s?


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