Thursday, June 12, 2014

Before Davis Furniture - 1119-1123 Main Street, Over-the-Rhine

1119-1123 Main Street - Source
While most people associate the deteriorating building on the west side of Main Street between Central Parkway and 12th Street with the Davis Furniture Company, the history of the building goes further back than the business' arrival in 1939. Davis Furniture was founded in 1902 and had a store on Sycamore Street until 1931, when they moved to the now-demolished Jefferson Hall at the southwest corner of 12th and Main.

So what businesses did occupy these buildings before Davis Furniture and just how old are they? I went off digging to find these answers.
1869 Titus Map - Source
Parcels outlined in red show where the building stands today.
I started with the old maps available on-line to find the old addresses of the buildings. You see, while we think today of the Davis Furniture Building as one, it is actually two separate buildings. I took a look at maps from 1887 and 1891 from the Sanborn Insurance Company. They used these maps to show the construction materials used in the buildings and noted any special equipment that could help or hinder firefighters. These were then used to estimate premiums for policy holders.  These maps are such a valuable resource that open clues to the past.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
453, 455. 457 & 459 Main Street outlined in red.
As noted above, these buildings were once address 453 & 455 Main for present-day 1119 Main and 457 & 459 Main for present-day 1123 Main. These maps also show that the buildings standing today were also there in 1887, giving at least a starting date for construction. The Hamilton County Auditor dates 1119 Main at being built in 1870 and 1123 Main build date as 1865. These dates come from old tax records and are a good starting point but not always accurate.

1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
This map was updated annually from 1904 to 1930, with any changes added to the original map.
1950 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
2014 CAGIS Map - Source
The maps give clues about addresses and some information about building uses over time. However, for further information, I then looked through the city directories available on-line with the Public Library. I found one of the addresses in the 1856 Directory:
Kiesewelter Gottfried, (Holzgrefe & Co.)  bds. 453 Main
Lutz Hy, bar. k. 453 Main
Lutz John, cof. house 453 Main

However it seems both buildings weren't completed. Perhaps they were both under construction, since the 1857 Directory shows much more activities at the four addresses:
Holzgref & Co., (William H.& Godfrey Kiecsewetter), mer. tailors, 453 Main

Mueller Jac., lock smith, 455 Main
Mueller v., turner, 455 Main
Siglog John, lab., 455 Main
Bleuler Adolph, paper hanger, 455 Main
GOTTMANN PHILIP, Manuf. and Imp. Paper Hangings, 455 Main
Heuke Chas.H., tailor, 455 Main

LUTZ JOHN, Coff. and Boarding House, 457 Main
Haack Geo.,bar. k., 457 Main
Jung Dar., bar kpr., 457 Main
Lutz Hy., bar k. 457 Main

By 1860, it is clear these buildings are fully occupied by both businesses and tenants:
Flachs Mrs. Mary, embroidery, 453 Main
Goerentz F., portrait painter, 453 Main
Holzgrefe Wm., tailor, 453 Main
Mueller Mrs. M., laundress, 453 Main

GOTTMAN  PHILIP, Paper Hangings, 455 Main
Gester Christian, cab. mkr., 455 Main
Wichmann Geo., painter, 455 Main

KREUZBURG & NURRE (Peter M. K. & Joseph N.) Publishers, Booksellers and Binders, 457 Main and 21 Green
NURRE Joseph, (Kreuzburg & N.,) 457 Main
Vonder A. I. , clk., 457 Main
Von Lint Lambert, bk. binder, 457 Main

LIEBLERT & SON, (Thomas L. & Nicolaus L.) Furniture, 459 Main
Reis Nicholas, grocery ,459 Main
Wempe Jos. A., clk., 459 Main

1890 City Directory Ad for Arnoldt's Doll Manufactory - Source
I typically search the directories every 5 to 10 years, matching up with the census records when possible. I found that the Nurre family, who were book publishers, lived one of the two buildings for over 37 years. Here is a look at some of the businesses at this location over the years:
Osteroth A. F. mer. tailor, 453 Main
GOTTMAN  PHILIP, Importer of Paper Hangings and Window Shades, 455 Main
Piening J. H. furniture, 457 Main
Abel Henry, grocery, 459 Main
Lake B. mer. tailor, 459 Main, h. 23 Woodward

Osterroth August F. mer. tailor, 453 Main
Gottmann Philip, wall paper, 455 Main
Piening J. H. furniture, 457 Main, h. 59 Western Av

ARNOLDT M., Manufacturer of Dolls and Dealer in Toys, 453 Main; Residence, 118 Undercliff Av
Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. 455 Main (& addtl locations)
Boettcher Fred, tailor shop, 457 Main, res. Deer Park
Main Street Furniture Co., H. Franke, manager, 457 Main
Volkerding John C. cigar manuf. 457 Main, h. 59 Western Av

Lynch L. G. propr. Star Shoe House, 1119 Main, res. Norwood
BREWER THOS. E. , Ice Machine and Electric Engineering a Specialty; Satisfaction Guaranteed on all kinds of Machines, 1121 Main
Dine Philip, propr. Dine's Furniture House, 1123 Main, h. 744 W. 7th
Ruboll Henry, tailor, 1123 Main, h. 2725 Scioto
DINE'S FURNITURE HOUSE, Philip Dine, Proprietor; I. M. Helwitz, Manager; Manufacturers and Dealers in Furniture, Carpets, Stoves and Household Goods, 1123 and 1125 Main
Weddendorf Henry W. tailor, 1125 Main, h. 2574 Fenner

Lynch  L G prop Star Shoe House 1119 Main res Norwood
DINE'S FURNITURE HOUSE, Philip Dine, Proprietor; Dealers in Furniture, Carpets, Stoves and Household
Goods, 1123 and 1125 Main

Star Shoe Market Co 1119 Main
Eisendrath Clara (wid Nathan J) millinery 1123 Main h 832 Cleveland Av
Army Store Geo G Wuest mgr 1125 Main
Biederman Reinhart cigarmfr 1125 Main h 2151 Vine

1119 Canfield Piano Co (The)
1121 Unger Harry ladles' apparel
1123 Apple J W threads
1123 Guarantee Shoe Store
1125 Zitzas Chas restaurant
1125 (2d fl) Biederman Reinhard cigar mfr
1125 (3d fl) Brockton Shoe Trimming Co

1119 Bragg Shoe Stores
1119 Maiorano Vincent tailor
1121 Unger Harry ladies' apparel
1121 Bateman A G paperhanger
1123-25 Cincinnati Merchandise Co (The) wholesale notions
1123 Mesh's Ready-to-Wear ladies' wear

1119 Frankel Shoe Co
1121 Cummins Fannie E ladies' ready-to-wear
1123 Gordon Nathan furniture

1119 Siegel Marvin B men’s furngs
1123 Davis Furniture Co

For a complete list of all the tenants and businesses, check out this document I put together. The directories didn't identify the owners of the building though. So I checked through the Cincinnati Enquirer articles, also available from the Public Library, and found this:
The Cincinnati Daily Enquirer; May 10, 1871; pg. 3
The building now addressed as 1119 Main Street was for sale in 1871. Then I found this mention of the Nurre family:
Cincinnati Enquirer; Jan 3, 1873; pg. 3
These dimensions and names clearly matched up to the directory information and show that the Nurre family did indeed once own 1119 Main Street. But what about 1123 Main? I decided to dig into the Hamilton County Recorder's records.

The original parcel of land bounded by present-day Central Parkway, Walnut Street, 12th Street and Main Street is called Outlot 26. William McFarland purchased the whole outlot early in Cincinnati's history and subsequently sold pieces off over the years. He divided some into a subdivision, noted in the 1869 Map towards the beginning of this blog post. Another early Cincinnati real estate investor, John Riddle, purchased lots 9, 10 and 11 from McFarland. These remained in his estate until part, including 1119 and 1123 Main Street, were sold to investors, Francis Fortman and Miles Greenwood, who in turn sold them to Joseph Nurre. Nurre purchased them around 1857. Here is an image of the index books, which show the progress of these properties' ownership from 1857 until 1937.
Hamilton County Recorder Series Index Books
As you can imagine, researching in this depth takes time, but now we have a clear picture of these two buildings and their 157 years on Main Street. David Davis and his family eventually purchased both buildings and had his well-know business here for many years, even through the riots of 2001. After his death in 1963, his sons Bertram and Milton took over the business, but business and the health of the owners decline, and in 2004, Davis Furniture closed.
Cincinnati Enquirer; June 18, 2004; pg. A1&A14
According to the recent Cincinnati Enquirer article, the building was sold after David Furniture closed and repairs to the roof were poorly done, allowing water to seep into the buildings. Over the last 10 years, the buildings have suffered from neglect. Scott Stough, owner of the Hanke Building just across the street, purchased the buildings in May, 2013, but found the building in need of many repairs. The Stough family had recently asked the Historic Conservation Board for permission to demolish the buildings. Much outcry has come from the community to keep the buildings, as they contribute to the historic district of Over-the-Rhine. It was recently announced by the Cincinnati Preservation Association that the Stough's have decided to list the buildings for sale.
Here are some pictures of the buildings from the Davis Furniture era, as posted by VisuaLingual:

These are from The Writing on the Walls blog:

Hopefully a new owner can breathe life into these buildings, which have seen so much of Over-the-Rhine's changes over their 157 years of existence!

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