Monday, March 12, 2012

From Pork to Sigma Alpha Epsilon to Unsure Future

I came across this home from the Cincinnati Preservation Association's Facebook page.
CPA had this to say:
ENDANGERED: Built c. 1830, 2210 Ohio Ave in CUF is a brick center-hall Greek Revival w/Victorian additions. Declared a nuisance, on agenda for next Urban Conservator hearing 4/2
asked if anyone knew it's history, so of course (as they knew I would), I went off to "dig".

Finding concrete information back to 1830 is a bit hard so I started with the maps. The earliest map I could find was 1891 and the home is clearly there with the front bay window and porch

1891 Sanborn Map - Source
But who owned it? I used my "digging" tools and the earliest owner I could find was in 1862. Robert Brown, a widower, and his children, Robert, Jr. and Sarah, moved the "east side of Ohio Avenue, South end" according to the city directory. Prior to this, they lived on 6th Street.

Robert Brown was a pork packer with his warehouse at southeast corner of Sycamore and Court Streets. He must have done well, because by 1870, he was a retired merchant at the age of 58 with the value of his real estate at $8,000 and personal estate at $1,500.

His son, Robert Jr.:
Born in Cincinnati, O., 1836; prepared for his collegiate course under the tutelage of Charles Matthews of Cincinnati; graduated at Yale, 1857; attended Yale Medical School, 1857-58; bookkeeper in a Cincinnati pork-packing house, 1858-66; Assistant Secretary Cincinnati Gaslight and Coke Co., 1866 and later Treasurer and Vice-President of same; Secretary of Yale Observatory 1882 to the present time (1899); founder of the first club of Yale graduates in the United States, and has been actively interested in educational and other useful works.
Robert Sr's daughter, Sarah, married George Seaman Gray in 1861. He was trained at the Theological Seminary at Auburn, NY and preached in Maine and New Jersey. When they returned to Cincinnati in 1866 George entered the pork-packing and commission merchant business and he lived with Sarah at her father's home at 2210 Ohio Ave until his death in August, 1885 of typhoid fever. Unfortunately for Sarah, just two months later in October, 1885, her father died of "old age" at 75 years old. Sarah continued to live at the home and in 1900, was renting rooms to a lawyer, three school teacher and a printer among others.

In 1910, the home has a new owner. It became the home of UC's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, the first home owned by any fraternity at the University of Cincinnati. Its location was close to the streetcar barn at the top of the Bellevue Incline, earning the E’s the nickname “car barn boys.” (Source)

Opened by Cincinnati & Clifton Inclined Plane Railroad in 1876, sold in 1880 to Cincinnati Street Railway. Incline connected with Cincinnati Street Railway's McMicken horse car line, which opened in 1881. Cincinnati & Clifton Inclined Plane Railroad also operated horse car line on Ohio Street from top of incline. Incline rebuilt in 1890 to accommodate streetcars. Incline closed down in 1926. - Image Source
SAE lived at at 2210 Ohio Avenue from 1910-1925.  The fraternity then built their current home at 2707 Clifton Avenue with a memorial bequest from Alfred and Maud Nippert to honor their son Jimmy Nippert, a Sigma Alpha Epsilon member and also the namesake of Nippert stadium.

2210 Ohio Avenue in 1923 - Source
In the years since 1925, the home became broken up into apartments. It has been owned by the same person since 1978. The home has been on and off the nuisance list for a few years now. I hope the Cincinnati Preservation Association can fight to save this home.

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