Saturday, November 7, 2015

John Mears Home - Mount Washington

My photographer friend, Tim Jeffries, took this picture a few weeks ago and I just had to learn more about this home.
Heis Avenue, Mt. Washington by Tim Jeffries
I found this home was mentioned as being recently restored in the Mount Washington Comprehensive Plan. They also called it the "Mears House" so this gave me some information to start with. The Hamilton County Auditor lists the year built as 1833! So I went to check my maps to see what I could find.
1847 Map of Hamilton County, Ohio by attorney William D Emerson, C. S. Williams and Sons publisher (No. 5 W. 4th St.), includes property owner names, inset maps and detailed legend
The 1847 Map of Hamilton County shows the land and quite possibly the house were owned by J. Gallagher. A little searching in the deed records revealed that James Gallagher purchased this land circa 1830 and then sold it to John Mears in 1854.
1856 Hamilton County by A.W. Gilbert
This map had not caught up with the sale of the property to John Mears in 1854.

1869 Titus Map - Anderson Township

1884 Map of Hamilton County, Ohio, by Geo. Moessinger & Fred. Bertsch

John Mears was a well-known farmer and renowned for his strawberries as mentioned in this article from the Farmers’ Home Journal, Sept. 25, 1879.
The average yield of strawberries will run from fifty to sixty bushels per acre, but in many instances over 100 bushels are obtained in field culture. During the years 1860 to 1865, Mr. John Mears, of Mount Washington, was the most extensive grower of strawberries in the State, having about twenty-five acres under cultivation. These were the years of highest prices, and Mr. Mears realized from six to ten dollars per bushel for his crop, his berries being exceptionally fine and salable. During the year 1864, Mr. Mears gathered 316 bushels from a patch a trifle less than two and a half acres. Mr. Mears may be justly termed the strawberry king.
John passed away at the age of 87 on April 15, 1904. He had married once at the age of 67 to Marie who was 22 years younger than he, but they had no children. After his death, the property was sold to John Weld Peck, who became a federal judge and the namesake of the Federal Building in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Enquirer; Thursday, May 23, 1912; p. 13
1914, Hamilton County atlas: containing plats of townships, incorporated towns and villages, and map of greater Cincinnati

Judge Peck sold the property in 1921 to Frank G. Menke and it was sold again in the 1940s to the Clarabeth Heis. The Heis family created the Heis Realty Company and subdivided the land. The home became a multi-family property over the years. Between 2003 and 2007, the home underwent a conversion back to a single family home. The Mount Washington Community Council approved this decision in the following article from the Comprehensive Plan for Mount Washington in 2007:
Residential Zoning Changes: Numerous areas of the neighborhood currently zoned for multi-family use should be rezoned to single family zoning designations to reflect the current use of the property and to reduce the potential for future multi-family expansion. These areas include properties around the intersection of Oxford Avenue and Crestview Place, around the intersection of Heis Terrace and Beth Lane, and along the north side of Corbly Street west of Oxford Avenue. These areas contain mostly single-family homes. The properties in the Heis Terrace/Beth Lane area do contain existing multi-family buildings but should be rezoned to a single-family district to encourage this area to revert back to a single-family area over time. The recently renovated Mears house on Heis Terrace, which had been broken into multiple units and was restored to a single family home, should be preserved as a single residence and the properties immediately surrounding it should be encourage to be redeveloped with single-family homes.
2015 CAGIS Property Map, identifying the Heis Realty Company subdivisions. The location of the Mears Home is outlined in red.
The current owners attempted to sell the home in 2013. The property was described as:
Rare 3600+ square feet plus lower level, 12 ft ceilings, wood floors, elaborate moldings, updated mechanics, stainless appliance, granite counters and more. Historic John Mears Mansion. 
It seems to be a small miracle that this house has survived since the 1830s and was not demolished in the 1940s-1950s when the other neighborhood houses were built. Thanks to the Heis family, we get to enjoy a surprise piece of history.


  1. wow, i love stuff like this. where might i view the maps?

    1. All the maps have a link to their source in the caption below the map.

  2. very interesting! thank you for all your research!


  3. Your posts are fantastic! Your research is incredibly thorough; I can't imagine all the time that goes into each post. Thank you for each fascinating piece of history that you revive.

  4. I wored at the federal building for 28 years until retirement this year. I loved now knowing that judge john weld peck once lived in that house in mt washington. I also live in mt. Washington that is why I was looking up history about it and my street name. Triva. John weld peck was honored to have the cincinnati federal building named after him while he was still living.he died at his oak desk. I was working that day. Although I didn't know it was him. I saw his body being carried out. I found out when I got home on the news. I was a teacher. He used to play Santa Claus for the children some times.


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