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.


  1. We have a 3 drawer walnut chest that is stamped inside "Meader Furniture Co. West 2nd St. Cincinnati O." It was handed down in our family from a third great grandfather who lived in Nauvoo Illinois and migrated to salt lake city, UT with the mormon handcarts about 1845. We Know that family stories handed down can be incorrect sometimes, but knowing from your article that the Company was founded in 1844 we feel it is true! We are so excited for this information!

  2. Any way to get the meader furniture co book? Can’t find it online anywhere.

  3. Awesome information. please call me or email 513 305 690 . Or I do drone photos and have some really to share
    Herman Heine

  4. I have a 4 drawer cabinet I would like info on

  5. I just found a piece in a second hand shop in pretty good shape .. huge dresser mirror all hand carving two drawers and two little drawers with little shelves white marble tops

  6. Also noted is the 2nd street afdress


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