Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who is Meader? - 113 West Fourth Street

As I was pulling out of the old Pogue's Garage on Fourth Street in downtown Cincinnati, these buildings caught my eye. Yes, I took this picture from the exit ramp, and yes, you should be careful if you are ever driving behind me.
113-119 West Fourth Street
Digging Cincinnati History
It is hard to see from this picture, so here is a close-up:

I just love when the builder added a name and street address to the building. It makes searching so much easier. However, in this case, this is an old address, before the street renumbering of 1895-1896. So who was Meader and why does this building at present-day 113-115 West 4th Street has this name on it?

1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The building and the two buildings to the west of it were constructed in 1876 for The Meader Furniture Company. The business was founded by Daniel F. Meader and his son, Joseph F. Meader in 1844 at Front and Smith Streets. Manufacturing remained there and a store was first opened on Second Street in 1864. Business was successful and this allowed them to construct the building on Fourth Street.
Knost Bros. & Company occupied the middle building.
From the 1895 Illustrated Guide to Cincinnati by Daniel J. Kenny for the World's Columbian Exposition
The Meader Furniture Company was described in the 1895 Illustrated Guide to Cincinnati by Daniel J. Kenny for the World's Columbian Exposition as thus:
THE MEADER FURNITURE COMPANY, 135 West Fourth street; factory corner Front and Smith streets.-This is one of the oldest, most reliable, and most renowned furniture houses in Cincinnati or the West. It is not renowned so much for the amount of its productions as for the variety and quality of its workmanship. In the latter the house of Meader has no rival, no competitor. It stands alone in the front rank when the question regarding furniture is "faithful, honest work." The patrons of the Meader Furniture Company come with the injunction, "I want the work done here." This matter of the high quality of Meader's furniture is as well known in the East as it is in the West, and it has been known for many years, for the Meaders were the first furniture manufacturers in Cincinnati who employed power and machinery in manufacturing furniture, and have ever produced strictly first class work.

The interior constructions for banks, offices, stores, dwelling, etc., is quite a feature of the company' s business. They have just finished the great beautiful show-cases for the World's Fair, for the A. E. Burkhart Co., the Methodist Book Concern, the Rookwood Pottery, etc. They are also making the entire fixtures for the great dry goods house of Joseph Horn & Co., of Pittsburg, and they recently shipped seven car loads, part of Horn & Co.'s order. No finer articles in the furniture line can be seen in any city in America than those on exhibition at the companies warerooms. Meaders do not manufacture cheap furniture for the "million," but they do manufacture suits for parlor, drawing room, library, bed-room, or dining-room that, considering the superior materials of which they are made, and the superior manner in which they are constructed, cannot possibly be equaled in this city for either cheapness or durability.

Front Street Manufacturing Building
From the 1895 Illustrated Guide to Cincinnati by Daniel J. Kenny for the World's Columbian Exposition
After Daniel's passing, Joseph ran the business with his son, Alfred B. Meader. Business continued until 1905, when they closed the plant and store. They continued to own the building and on January 3, 1906, The Woman's Exchange opened for business. Joseph F. Meader retired from business in 1908 and passed away on October 24, 1917, being buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Joseph F. Meader - Source

1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The Woman's Exchange was founded in 1883 as a one-room charitable consignment shop. It was a place where women could sell their home-produced items, such as baked goods, knitted items and artwork, in order to provide some income to their households. It was governed by a Board of Advisors, philanthropic women looking for a way to give back to their community and to use their free time to benefit others. The Exchange provided a way for working women to avoid the long and hard hours at sweatshops and kept poverty at bay. The venture was so successful they moved into a large space after one year and then again to Fourth Street in 1906.

Cincinnati Enquirer, January 3, 1906, pg. 12
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
A lunch room was on the first floor, where one could get a delicious home-cooked meal and desserts. The second floor became the gift shop, where items such as smocked dress for girls, handmade doll clothes, accessories for men and women, and food items, like jams and pickles, could be purchased. The Exchange remained at this building until 1967, when they moved to Michigan Avenue in Hyde Park. It closed in 1985 and remaining assets were donated to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

The building on Fourth Street now is Fettner-Friedman Furs, well known for their quality products. From furniture to furs, this building has remained on Fourth Street for over 130 years and hopefully for many more years to come.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gobrecht Building, 12th and Walnut, Over-the-Rhine

On a recent trip to Over-the-Rhine, a friend took me to the corner of 12th and Walnut Streets to check out this building. He had heard stories of the building and wanted to see if these were true. So of course, I just had to know more...
1126 Walnut Street by Digging Cincinnati History
The building was constructed in 1884 and designed by Emil G. Rueckert to be used as a store with apartments above. The cost of construction was $18,000. The store was operated by C.A. Gobrecht.

Christian August Gobrecht was born in 1832 in Germany and arrived in the United States in 1857. Shortly after coming to Cincinnati, he married Johanna Schmack and in the 1860 Census, he is listed as a musician. In April, 1861, he enlisted in the 6th Regular Ohio Foot Volunteers, Company E as a musician and mustered out in August of the same year. Again in September, 1862 he enlisted in the military, this time with the Regular Ohio Reserve Military Infantry but mustered out just one month later. In July, 1863 he registered for the Civil War draft but there is no record that he served.

August and Johanna with daughters Minnie and Ida, circa 1862
Source - user ewlevin
In the 1870 Census, August was listed as a musician and he lived with his wife and children, Wihelmine, Ida and Emil. Their fourth child, Alma, was born in 1871 and all of them lived until adulthood. In 1874, August began a store along with his brother George on Court Street selling liquor while remaining a musician as well. By 1880, August continued the store, which had moved to Walnut Street, north of Fourteenth Street. In the same year, he was listed as a musician in the May Festival Orchestra.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
Note the Gobrecht Building in the top left.
In 1885, the new building at the corner of Twelfth and Walnut Streets was completed and the business enjoyed success here as a liquor and grocery store. Tragedy almost struck on July 4, 1887, when the malt house of the George Weber Brewing Company to the east caught fire when a "sky-rocket" from the Independence Day celebration entered a ventilator. The fire destroyed the malt house. The ventilator stacks fell upon the stable next to Gobrecht's building, which August was using for a warehouse. The fire licked at the window frames and one man who was on the roof, scared for his life, jumped to the street below and later died at the City Hospital. The Gobrecht Building survived the fire with a bit of scorching and some damage done to the personal items of the tenants.
Above the windows, the detail looks like piano keys. Perhaps C.A. Gobrecht added these because of his love of music.
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
As Emil grew up in the business, he took over after August's death in 1889 at the age of 57. The following is the listing from the city directory in 1895:
GOBBECHT A CO.. Wholesalers and Jobbers of Luncheon Delicacies, Table Luxuries, Cheese, Fish, Wines and Liquors, 404, 406 and 408 Walnut, s.e.c. 12th; Telephone 810
Note the "G" above the door for Gobrecht
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
In  1896, Gobrecht & Co. consolidated with the Highland Candy Company and became known as Gobrecht, McDonald & Co. However by 1900, the business was bought out by the Joseph R. Peebles' Son Company and Emil worked as a manager in the delicatessen department. In 1901, The Solar Art and Decorating Company occupied the retail space for a short time and by 1905, it was the Boltz and Berberich, an importer and jobber of woolens and tailor trimming. This business remained until the mid-1920's.

1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
In 1925 the store space is listed as vacant but in 1927, the Model Lunch began it's operations here. The name most likely comes from the close proximity to the Model Laundry Company, which had a location on Jackson Street near Twelfth, just one block away. The lunch room was run by Charles Zitzas and Tom Zaferes until the late 1930's, when Tom ran the business with his family. After his death in 1958, his children continued operate the Model Lunch.
This is engraved in the sidewalk just in front of the door.
Photo by Digging Cincinnati History
Source - user ewlevin
Most recently, Lucy Blue Pizza Window was here from 2001 until the spring of 2013, when they moved to their present Main Street location. The upper floors of the building were converted into condominiums in 2008. Now the first floor will become the home of HalfCut, specializing in local and rare craft beers.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Drugs to Pub - Riverside Drive, East End

I came across this photo while looking through the wonderful collection at the University of Cincinnati's Digital Resource Commons.
Highway Dept. / 5-26-31 / Eastern Ave & Vance St. Nos 2062-64
Taken in 1931 as part of a street reconstruction project that lasted from the 1930's until the 1950's, the photos came from the City Engineer's office. I just had to know if these buildings were still standing and indeed, one (on the left) still is. However, let's start in the past...
1869 Titus Map
This area is now called the East End, but in 1869, the land between Marivale Street and 2154 Riverside Drive was called Vanceville, in honor of the major landholder, James Vance. In 1870, at present day 2062 Riverside Drive, lived Charlotte Kline, a widow, M. Rigney, a laborer, George Snyder, a carpenter and John Whitehead, a laborer. In 1875, a pilor, most likely a steamboat pilot, lived here along with a clerk named Charles Tealen. 2021 Update - I had the wrong Front Street! Directories in 1870 and 1875 did not cover this section of Cincinnati.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
In 1878, a druggist, Charles W. Phillips, began his store here. It continued past his death in 1908, with his wife Laura taking over the business until 1914. In 1916, Herbert Duval opened a grocery store, but that only lasted for a few years. William Henderson had a barber shop here in 1920, but by 1925 he was gone as well. In 1930, The Burke Grocery Company, a chain of stores, had a location here and that is what we see in the first photo. Look below to see the manager, Polly Gwynn, standing in the doorway, watching the photographer. You can also see some of the goods for sale, including Procter and Gamble products.
Close-up of photo above
Another view with 2062 Eastern/Riverside on the far left with two gentlemen looking out the door
Looking east towards Vance Street - Source
Close-up the above
The grocery store closed sometime before 1935 and by 1940, Mrs. Bessie Sharpe opened a restaurant. Her daughter Carrie continued to run the place in 1947. Sometime between 1947 and 1958, the Du-Drop Inn opened, ran by Eva Slaughter. The name stuck until the early 2000's. However, the street name changed from Eastern Avenue to Riverside Drive.
Sanborn Insurance Maps from 1917, 1930, and 1950
Sources (1917, 1950); 1930
1999-2003 Hamilton County Auditor
By 2005, Maribelle's Tavern opened here and was very successful, to the point of needing to move to a new location in 2012 (now in Oakley).
Note the property to the right had been demolished.
In the summer of 2012, BrewRiver Gastropub opened to great reviews. According to their Facebook page, it seems that business is still going well for this East End building with a long history of serving the public.