Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Story of a Potter and His Buildings

This is the story of a potter and the two buildings which remain in Cincinnati that were part of his life.
312 Main Street - Courtesy of Tim Jeffries
As you may be able to decipher, this building on Main Street, just north of Third, has a monogram on the top. The letters are CEB, for Christian E. Brockmann, who, as the title suggests, was a potter. He was born in Germany, July 4, 1834 and arrived in Cincinnati around 1848. He founded and owned The Brockmann Pottery Company, which was located on Richmond Street in the West End but is no longer standing.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map showing The Brockman Pottery Co on Richmond Street
While the pottery was made in the West End, it was sold in downtown, first at two other locations on Main Street. But in 1880, Brockmann had this building at present-day 312-314 Main Street built for his retail shop. The address then was 110-112 Main Street, before the city-wide street renumbering of 1895-1896.
312 Main Street is the building at center
Dating the building to 1880 was pretty easy, since Mr. Brockmann was kind enough to stick the date right on the building. I love it when they did this. It makes my job much easier!
Courtesy of Tim Jeffries
Over the years, Mr. Brockmann also sold other items at his store, as shown in the city directories.

BROCKMANN C . E . , Importer and Dealer in Crockery, Glass and China, Fancy Goods, Toys, &c, 110 and 112 Main; Residence Pleasant Ridge, O
110-112 Main Street - 1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
1891 Sanborn Map - Source
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
1904-1950 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
2013 CAGIS Map
The following description of the company is from Marks of American Potters, published in 1904.
Messrs Tempest, Brockmann & Co established a pottery in Cincinnati Ohio in 1862. In 1881 the name was changed to the Tempest, Brockmann & Sampson Pottery Co and in 1887 The Brockmann Pottery Co was organized by Mr C.E. Brockmann. The present products are cream and white granite wares. The earliest mark of this establishment was the English lion and unicorn with the T.B. & Co beneath. Since 1887 the same mark has been employed for C.C. ware with the letters B.P. Co.  On white granite the same device is used with the addition of words "Warranted Best Ironstone China". 
Marks from the book noted above.
And the store was described in Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Cincinnati and Environs, published in 1886:
C. E. Brockmann, Importer of and Dealer in China, Glass, and Queens Ware, etc., Nos. 110 and 112 Main Street.—A prominent business house engaged in handling, both wholesale and retail, foreign and domestic manufactured crockery, glassware, and other kindred goods is that of Messrs. C. E. Brockmann... This is a five-story building, with a frontage of 24 feet and a depth of 100 feet. In addition to this, Mr. Brockmann occupies a four-story warehouse, 24x100 feet in dimensions, No. 15 Hammond street, rear of store on Main street. The salesrooms in the store are neatly fitted up, while the display of wares is particularly complete and choice, and the general stock is as large as the wares are rare and beautiful. All goods are of Mr. Brockmann's own importation or come direct from manufacturers. Special departments are here for pottery and glassware of English,  French, Dresden, Canton, Silesian, Japanese, and Faience manufacture; French, Bohemian, Baccarat, Crystal, English, and American, table glassware, queensware in great variety, silverplated ware, and a general line of necessary and fancy wares.
As for C.E. Brockmann, the following was written about him in 1904, in Centennial History of Cincinnati and Representative Citizens, by Charles Theodore Greve.
The death of Christian Brockmann at his handsome residence on Montgomery avenue, Pleasant Ridge, in the summer of 1903, removed one of the pioneer business men of Cincinnati. Mr. Brockmann was born in Germany, July 4, 1834, but had been a resident of this city since the age of 14 years.
While Mr. Brockmann was prominently associated with the various interests of Cincinnati, he will be best remembered by the business world as the founder and owner of The Brockmann Pottery Company, whose manufacturing plant is located on Richmond street, and whose retail establishment is at No. 312 Main street. His name was identified with many of the leading German institutions of the city, and he was always prominent in supporting their charities. His industry and perseverance, with consequent success, offer an example to those who follow in the paths already made smooth by the pioneers, of whom he was an example. Coming to Cincinnati a lad in 1848, he had little to depend upon except his own efforts, and that they were directed in the right direction is evidenced by the large estate he acquired and the honor and esteem in which he was universally held.
Mr. Brockmann married Josephine M. Ries, who still survives, with these children: Christian F., who is the manager of the Brockmann Pottery Company; Philip E.; Edward, who is connected with the pottery; Herbert W.; Mrs. I. Arnold, of Chicago; and Mrs. R. Ross Whiting, whose husband is a member of The Whiting View Company of Cincinnati.
While Mr. Brockmann had been in poor health for many months, his death was not expected, and came to his family and friends as a great calamity. It is hard to realize that one so kind and thoughtful, so necessary to the happiness of others, so useful in many avenues, should now be but a dear memory.
After his death, the store on Main Street closed, and from 1905 until 1918, The F.A. Schwill & Son Company had a retail store, selling glassware, hotel and restaurant china, and bottlers' supplies. In 1918, The Cincinnati Auto Specialty Manufacturing Company took over the building. They made various seat covers and other specialty parts for the emerging auto business.  
Ad from the Cincinnati Enquirer, May 28, 1919
Ad from the Cincinnati Enquirer, May 2, 1920
By 1930, The Main Supply Company was now in the building and they sold electrical supplies and in 1940, plumbing supplies. They remained owners of the building until 1946. It appears since then, it has been used for various retail establishments and possibly office and/or apartment rentals. It is currently owned by CBD Holdings, Inc., which is part of 3CDC. They were awarded historic tax credits to rehab this building along with 308-316 Main Street. Plans are for street-level retail and condominiums for the upper floors. 

But remember I said this was the story of two buildings? It just so happens that before Mr. Brockmann lived in Pleasant Ridge, he built another home at present-day 1418 Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine. 
1418 Elm Street at center - currently owned by OTR Holding, Inc.
After Mr. Brockmann moved his family to Pleasant Ridge, the Elm Street home became rental property, with various tenants over the years:
Fishwick Geo. T. salesman, 26 W. 4th, h. 480 Elm
Hervey Lizzie R. teacher, h. 480 Elm
Hervey Samuel H. trav. salesman, h. 480 Elm

Hilton John, foreman, h. 480 Elm
Stephenson C. C. foreman. The Standard Harness Co. h. 480 Elm
Williams Geo. F. painter, h. 480 Elm

Gers Josie, domestic, h. 480 Elm Opp. Magnolia
Green Sarah, A. wid. Ezekiel, h. 480 Elm opp. Magnolia
“Wm. E. salesman, Smith & Nixon's, h. 480 Elm opp. Magnolia
Smith Stephen M. trav.salesman, s.e.c. 2d and Walnut, h. 480 Elm nr 15th

Berger W. R. student, bds. 1418 Elm
Golden Geo. W. clk. 711 Race, bds. 1418 Elm
Hoffman Frank, with The Interstate Advertising Co. of Pittsburg, room 55, 448 Main, h. 1418 Elm
Justice Carrie L. b. h. 1418 Elm
Salt Wm. driver, bds. 1418 Elm
Kirker Prank K. engineer, bds,. 1418 Elm
Morse C B. trav.salesman, bds. 1418 Elm

Flinn Wm S principal W H Morgan School h 1418 Elm
Gorman —Robt carp rms 1418 Elm
Justice Carrie L boarding 1418 Elm
Mendenhall Edward painter bds 1418 Elm
Golden Geo W clk 711 Race bds 1418 Elm
Rick Frank stockkpr 408 Pioneer h 1418 Elm
Stehle Lillie saleslady 1533 Elm rms 1418 Elm
Morse C E (C E M & Co) 4 Allen Bldg bds 1418 Elm
Watson David lab bds 1418 Elm
Boarding House - Justice Carrie L 1418 Elm

Beck Wm I carp rms 1418 Elm
Bennett Millard clk 1523 Plum rms 1418 Elm
Donley John paperhgr rms 1418 Elm
Geiger Anton clk 275 W McMicken Av h 1418 Elm
“Otto meatctr rms 1418 Elm
Heidel Earl wrapper h 1418 Elm
“ Jos M h 1418 Elm
Mueller Fabricuis Victor actor rms 1418 Elm
Weinkam Anna hair work h 1418 Elm

Barrett Mrs Catherine furnished rooms 1418 Elm
Beckner Valentine mach rms 1418 Elm
Kammerdiener Jacob helper h 1418 Elm
Schoeck Henry foreman The Storrs-Schaefer Co rms 1418 Elm
Meford Todd C painter rms 1418 Elm
Parson Thos clk rms 1418 Elm
Schendel Julius tailor rms 1418 Elm
Thomas Roy J hatter rms 1418 Elm

1418 Beckner Kate fum rms
1418 Bonta Julius

Beckner Mrs Kate furnished rooms 1418 Elm
Bonta Julius mach op h 1418 Elm
Bulger John clk Ry Ex Agcy rms 1418 Elm
Hall Paul rms 1418 Elm
Kent R W salesman rms 1418 Elm
McIntyre John J fireman rms 1418 Elm
Shuse Guy rms 1418 Elm

The building is currently vacant but is owned by OTR Holdings, Inc., also part of 3CDC and is held as part of their land bank for future development.


  1. Holly Moly, Dude/Dudette?, I love to find this stuff! I have a project for you if you like? I own 215 Findlay, an old tenement building, I'd love to be your research assistant in finding out anything about it. Please contact me when you have time.

    1. Chris,
      I'm a dudette. :-)
      Email me at

  2. Thanks for your research. Very interesting. I live in Pleasant Ridge in a house that was built on part of the land that made up C.E. Brockmann's farm. I assume at this point, Brockmann was a "gentleman farmer". After Brockmann's death, the property was purchased by John Douglas, of The John Douglas Co., makers of plumbing fixtures and most famous for their toilets. The house is a beautiful four-square house (now 2927 Douglas Terrace). I believe Douglas built the current house, likely demolishing the former Brockmann house. In the late 1920s, Douglas began selling off his farmland for development. The houses on the west side of Lester Road between Montgomery and Beaver resulted from this development.


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