Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Antique of the Week: A Great Stained Glass Window

We just have a hard time getting in stained glass. In part because its hard to find and two because we only buy it from trusted sources.  So today we have a special treat.

Top Sash
This is a huge stained glass window, that came from Central Illinois. Actually two sashes/one window overall although they could be used separately depending on your application. The bottom sash is 39x40 and has two condition issues. One pane has BB hole in it, and one pane needs to be refitted in its cane.  The top sash is 39 x 39 and is in good condition. In a functional frame with weights this would work out to a 39x78 size (Because of the way the windows come together for the locking mechanism) . AND it still has the window lock on it.

Bottom sash
Building a window frame unit is not that difficult and a number of window sash rebuilders can actually build you a functional frame. This would be ideal in a tower or maybe a landing and of course these could be hung in front of an existing regular window.

Specially priced to Blog readers at 425.00 (Cash Paypal, Major credit cards) This will be going on Ebay soon (where it will bring a much higher price) So if you need a window for your home, hurry! Contact me at victiques@gmail.com. As always you can pick this up or we can work with blanket shippers of your choice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

City DRIVES OUT homeowner/restorer in Price Hill..CALL CITY HALL!

Everyone knows this happens every day in this city. People come to Cincinnati to restore a house and live in it and make a difference and the city inspection services makes their life a living hell and they just give up. On Ebay, right now, someone has thrown in the towel and is selling their home at a loss BECAUSE of city inspections. The owner will lose tens of thousands of dollars and this property will likely be picked up by some slumlord who will NOT do the right thing . Ebay listing here

What makes this SAD and makes me OUTRAGED is this is DRIVING AWAY someone trying to do the right thing. I feel his hurt, his anguish, and his sense of frustration, as someone still in a battle to save my community. I want you to CALL CITY HALL, email the city council. Raise hell, call the Enquirer to investigate, and support this man who is trying to do the right thing but his like is being destroyed by city inspections. The City of Cincinnati should be ASHAMED of the way this man is being treated! You cannot grow a city with a city government who is driving people away. Maybe , just maybe, we can stop this from happening

I urge you to read what he says in this listing and put yourself in his shoes:

"I'm throwing in the towel -going back to a cardboard box in the woods Here is my dream house -cute bungalow , that still needs work , hardwood floors , new roof, lots of new remodeling ,solid ,but still needs a handyman -I bought the house last year from a bank ,paid cash $20,000 +, I started getting it ready for me to move in and city started fining me for old civil issues from previous owners ,requested a hearing because the issues didn't even exist, trashy yard, dangerous/dilapidated garage etc , -there is no garage by the way. People were living there previously,but hadn't been paying the bills and let the house completely run down . I had removed all the old roofs ,rebuilt the decking ,and installed new 30 yr roof, put in attic stairs , enlarged the bathroom, rebuilt kitchen and bath floors , replumbed ,and was making most other repairs ,but city just kept doubling and tripling civil fines. Still had work to do to make a nice house . I refuse to pay for crimes I didn't commit. Taxes are fully paid , and I doubt I can sell this house for a 10th of what the city claims it is worth ,I put a copy of the tax bill on here so you can see all the crap your taxes pay for, I just paid about $1700 for the tax bill also .I would have to quit work and devote a month to get it reduced ,or pay a lawyer. there are no bills due whatsoever on the property, I own free and clear and will convey such ,may not be long before I start getting liens as I am not paying civil fines .Please review crime statistics for Price hill area ,if you like city life -this is for you . Only about 1 in 10 people are victims in this area.. how bad can it be . Most of the murders and stuff have been on other streets . You do have a few nice neighbors, I regret just giving up , with $35,000 cash invested , but I can't keep chasing a dead horse. You would think when a man with no criminal record goes into a neighborhood , hires the unemployed to work , starts fixing up property ,trying to be a good neighbor, and making a home . Local government would want to do everything possible to assist , not fine -fee -and harass . . By the time I would be able to move in , I would have paid the city the cost of the house . I'm gone -joining the ranks of homeless criminals ."

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Blog Focuses on Midwest Preservation

We  have started a new broader based preservation blog at your request. This new blog Rustbelt Preservationist takes a look at Historic Preservation issues across the Midwest and focuses on promoting endangered properties and historic preservation opportunities. We expect to focus on Historic Preservation Bargains with our new Friday edition called "Friday Fix!" which will focus on preservation opportunities under 25K

This will allow us to focus this blog more on Historic Period Design, antiques, our restoration work and Victoriana in general. We hope you will check out Rustbelt Preservationist and add it too your reading list. Don't forget to support our sponsors and advertisers who make bringing this information to you possible.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Antique Of the Week: A Great Summer Cover with Surround!


Antique Of the Week features affordable antiques and architectural pieces aimed at the old house restorer.

Summer Covers with surrounds are getting impossible to find. This one has great detail and is designed to work with your tiled fireplace, which more than likely doesn't have one. Measures 23 1/2 inches wide and 27 1/2 inches high, the inside arch is 17x 24 1/2 Estimated ship weight is about 30 lbs.

Priced at 225.00 . We are not offering shipping with this but can put you in touch with a shipper our buyers use locally who has an excellent reputation for properly packing and shipping items like this. Interested? Contact me at victiques@gmail.com

We have a wide variety of antiques and architectural salvage so do not hesitate to let us know what you are looking for.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time to Hold National Chains to a higher architectural standard when they demo.

This is not your typical CVS store. It attempts to make an architectural statement and could easily looks more like an old art deco theatre, than an chain pharmacy store. Yet CVS and Walgreens routinely tear down irreplaceable architecture and build their boring bland suburban stores in historic districts upsetting the streetscape and forever changing the architecture.

What is really interesting about this CVS is that nothing was even demoed to build it. It was built in new development called Villages of West Clay and was part of their West Clay "Uptown development".

West Clay is one of those "New Urbanism " communities trying to create a small town in the cornfields of suburbia. This building looks the way it does because the ONLY way they could build in this community was to make it look old.

If the big chains can do it when they have too, why can't historic neighborhoods demand the same treatment?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another Historic Westside Property Recieves National Attention

Gorgeous restoration , well priced at only 149K, is likely off the radar of local buyers, will probably have a new owner moving from out of state .
This  is the fifth Westside property in the last few months to be featured on the nationally read Old House Dreams website and seems to point to the fact that, nationally, among preservationists , the Westside has a lot to offer and the world doesn't 'revolve' around Over the Rhine.

This grand restoration on State Avenue is one of dozens scattered all over the Westside in several neighborhoods and is just the latest to receive this kind of positive national attention.

You can read the piece on the Old House Dreams website:
http://www.oldhousedreams.com/2014/07/18/1875-second-empire-cincinnati-oh/

While the Westside may be off the radar for locals it is definitely on the radar of may well monies preservationist who are buying homes. The housing diversity and quality seems to be particularly appealing., as those from out of state realize what quality architecture exists on the Westside. When you look at the comments made from out of towers about how great this home is, you begin to realize we do have a lot to offer.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Endangered Cincinnati Landmarks and why we need real solutions, not more taxes

Saving a historic lock by cutting if off the door it came from is shortsighted, so is quick fixes to fix landmarks just because you are embarrassed,
Cincinnati must learn to deal with the national embarrassment of having not one, but two landmarks on the National Trust Most Endangered list this year. As usual to show "we really care", we now have a rash of knee jerk reactions , plans and proposals are out there.

Some are calling for higher taxes, others are calling for higher fees, some could care less. It's a typical reaction of this city to "fix it this minute no matter the cost, or, to not fix it at all if it raises our taxes". Landmarks of this size and scope are important to the history of the city but what is really called for is a long term solution that not only gets these landmarks repaired but insures that they will be financially stable, long term.

Landmarks are costly, they quality of construction is difficult to duplicate and the people, who know how to do this are expensive. The key is to think long term, not quick fix, and to be sure that this city, as current stewards of these properties, does what it can without sacrificing the economics of the whole community.

As you can see from the photo at the beginning of this piece . I saw this just the other day at an antique mall. A bin full of locks still attached to the wood. The 'short term' solution of "well the locks are valuable so I'll saws-all them off.  The locks were preserved but the doors were destroyed. This is the perfect illustration of single mindedness and impulsive solutions. "I think the locks are valuable and Ill cut them off'. The locks were for sale for 14.00 each and as anyone in restoration will tell you the doors they were cut off of would sell for 100-150.00 each if intact.

So far 'proposed solutions' are looking at 'fixing things' but none of them address the long range goal of how do we make union terminal and the music hall sustainable long term. Before we do anything we need to assess if the present uses serve the best use, and, are they profitable? Clearly if they were we might not be in this situation, so we need to look at is there space for other uses and/or is what is there in the best location?

Could the Music Hall or Union Terminal hold other things too, say a boutique hotel or restaurant space. Are there things we could add that would generate revenue? For example there is a lot of land in front of union terminal. Could a private developer be found to develop that land and proceeds from a sale or long term lease could generate revenue for restoration for example. Or consider, our small and aging convention center, too small to be major player for the lucrative convention business that goes to Indianapolis for example. Maybe we build a new convention center with underground parking and above ground hotel/condos on that land and link it with union terminal? A larger convention center could generate much needed tourism revenue and convention business and maybe while Union Terminal is under restoration a site for the museum and library to operate?

The facts are that public-private partnerships are one of the best ways to save landmark structures. Consider 'naming rights'  could we have the P&G music hall? or some other entity? Could the Music Hall hold restaurants or a boutique hotel that could supplement the operation cost and allow the building to be used in better multi functional manner?

We need to slow down and look at all the possibilities for these iconic landmarks of this city. Let us open this debate up to alternate proposals and most importantly lets not make spur of the moment decisions or fixes, that make  us feel good, but fail to accomplish the long term goal of making sure two landmarks are standing 50-100 years from now.

This will require something not normally found in this city, creativity, consensus and most importantly common sense.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Small Buildings should be preserved too.

Grand style in a small package
Some preservation organization seem to only care about grand mansions built by famous local architects. However, Indiana Landmarks is different, they apparently believe that good things come in small packages and while they do help save "grand mansions' a lot of their efforts are on saving the everyday workers cottages, small homes and in this case a unique but small commercial building, the Frasier and Isham Law Office in the small town of Fowler Indiana .


Window seats in the bays
The building is a example of the design skills of the firm of J. F. Alexander & Son . The style might best be described as Eclectic in my opinion but the round turreted bays of brick and stone shown "Romanesque'  influence . The Romanesque style is generally reserved for large mansions and government buildings. Its use in a small structure like this is rare.

Can't get more secure than your personal vault
The building is on the registry and Indiana Landmarks has attached protective covenants that will insure its future protection. The property is for sale at 45,000.00. It even has its own vault!
You can see the landmarks listing here. Landmark for sale
Encaustic tile floor

This property has great encaustic tile and woodwork too and perfectly illustrates that our "built history" often comes in small packages.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cincinnati Corporate Interests vs. Preservation: A History Lesson

People in the Lytle Park area, residents in OTR, and preservationists city wide are all outraged at the loss of the buildings on Arch street for another "corporate box" building. The feel CPA isn't representing them, and there was no "transparent process" and that this was a "done deal" months before any public comment. Worked out in backroom meetings and they may well be right.

This was, and is, predictable , the city of Cincinnati has a history of back room deals where corporate interests take precedent over mere neighborhood interests. To understand why this is allowed to happen you only need look back at history to see it.

City workers showed up to take photos of "blighted" buildings like these in 1959, the car in the photo is only 2 years old,

One day men began arriving in a neighborhood in Cincinnati, the year was 1959.  They were white and that made them stand out in Kenyan-Barr an almost exclusively black neighborhood west of the city courthouse. They had cameras and signs and they were taking photos of all the buildings. Something was up but the average resident had no clue that soon their neighborhood would be destroyed, that they would be homeless, scattered to the winds of Avondale, Walnut Hills, OTR, causing the mass white flight and leading to the deterioration of the city.

This "blighted building" held a local barbershop. Note the level of architecture lost

Kenyan Barr is the neighborhood you probably never heard of in Cincinnati. It was, in the 1940's and early 1950's our Harlem.. Built between 1850 and 1890, unlike OTR which was built as tenement housing, K-B was a neighborhood of Rowhouses and single family homes with commercial corners and area with even larger mansions  and not been a struggling neighborhood  with newly arrived immigrant's, but rather a neighborhood of those who had made it already. By the 1940's as people moved out to better areas it was mostly a   rental district and was overwhelmingly black, though it had a vibrant business corners. There were poor living there but ether were middle class blacks as well who lived there and owned businesses and employed people. There were 2800 buildings, with 500 shops,churches and other non residential facilities. TEN THOUSAND families , almost THIRTY THOUSAND people called Kenyan Barr home.


This Second Empire 'Blighted' Mansion still had its original wrought iron fence
The city first planned its destruction in the 1948 Master plan, that was a plan drafted largely by politicians and with the input of "corporate interests'. People were already moving farther out and the city accepted the idea they would not move back, the city needed however to build a highway to get them there and places for them to work. That plan called for the entire demo of the West End (3100 buildings), but by 1956 more detailed plan was drafted that kept the Dayton street area as there were some influential white families still living there.

No that's not Brooklyn, its Cincinnati, there were hundreds of 3 story single family rowhouses. What would this be worth today within walking distance to downtown. According to the city these were "blighted"
The  Kenyan Barr Master plan was published in 1959. It proposed the complete eradication of the neighborhood due to 'code violations'. The city had spent several year making sure that 'code violations' were placed on all but FOUR buildings in the neighborhood (same playbook the city used starting in 2002 in S Fairmount, by the way, for MSD to drive down property values and make the argument the area was 'blighted' and that project would be an improvement).

Elegant French Second Empire Duplexes were in Kenyan Barr, Gorgeous detailing, but these were signs of a "Blight-Ridden" neighborhood that should be demoed for an industrial park
The city 'promised' relocations and new housing conditions but that did not happen. People were given 30 days to get out, some were placed in Laurel but most were left to their own devices. People left the neighborhood often with only that they could carry with them. There were no lawsuits, no community meetings to save the area...this was 'progress'.

This corner building was built as a single family townhome. With its elegant bays what would it be worth today?
In its place would be 'Queensgate' an industrial park that would insure that work would remain downtown and not be built in the suburbs. The city and Feds spent 43 million dollars, the land was sold to corporate interests for 7.8.million. By any measure Queensgate was a failure in Urban renewal, another example of short sighted urban planning and sacrifice of an entire neighborhood for immediate corporate interests. In fact the book "Common Ground" by J. Davis which chronicles this, is often required reading in Urban planning courses and is a prime example of what "Not to do", yet we keep doing it.

Is it that the buildings are "blighted" or did corporate and city leaders just think the 'wrong people' lived here?
Look at the photos here (over 800 are on line at the Cincinnati museum site more photos Kenyan Barr Collection). What would 2800 buildings downtown be worth today? These were far higher end buildings than OTR and most were single family. This would have been our Brooklyn, our Dupont Circle. A restored Kenyan Barr would have generated far more in property taxes than Queensgate ever will. Cincinnati could have been a premier historic destination . We are but a shadow of what we could have been, and we still repeat the same mistakes, in the same city offices, with the same corporate players.
We look back now and say "how stupid we were"...yet, here we go again.

Rest in Peace, Arch Street, you were not the first, and if something major doesn't change, you will not be the last.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Queen City No More: Cincinnati History on Life Support

While some were 'patting themselves on the back' that they got Music Hall and the Train Station on the National Most Endangered List, those of us who care about preservation realize that Cincinnati's  Historic built environment is on life support and there is no doctor, or cure in site.

Cincinnati as a city should be embarrassed to have not one but TWO landmarks on this list. In case you didn't know this already, Cincinnati is  a national laughing stock in historic preservation circles. Look at our recent history over the last few years.

Gamble House...gone, a block of Corryville...gone, Glencoe ..gone! Buildings coming down everyday, in fact over 250 this year are down or will be down. Arch street is next and probably 5 more buildings even MSD's own preservation consultants agree are historic eligible in Fairmount. We are losing historic structures at an alarming rate.

Why does this happen? Simple, the preservation community has no backbone. In just about any other major city there would be a huge fight to save Arch Street and preserve that neighborhood. We are about to lose some of the oldest buildings in the downtown.

I've said this before and I will say is again CPA (Cincinnati Preservation Association) is ineffective, and afraid to fight for history because they are upset about upsetting the friends of their donors who sit on the boards of local corporations. You have two landmarks on the National  Most Endangered because the group that is supposed to be the 'voice' of Preservation is mute.

Ponder that OTRADOPT and Knox Hill Neighborhood Association , both fledgling organizations, have saved more historic  buildings from the wrecking ball than CPA has in the same time. They have done it without wealthy donors too.

You can not have historic preservation without fighting for it. "Please can we save this property, but if its 'inconvenient' for you then go ahead and demo it, because one of our donors might be friends with your board of directors," is not how you save historic properties. Do not get me wrong, there are some people who belong to CPA who care, but they are afraid to take on the "old guard" that wants CPA to be 'society preservation group' that puts on an occasional home tour or holds a lecture.

While they are doing home tours and lectures our history is being bulldozed. Its time for a real preservation group made up of passionate people who care, who wont be afraid to upset a donor,. In other cities Preservation organization sue, they go to court. Not here that wouldn't be 'polite'. No push for the Arch street properties to at least be moved. No push to slow the pace of demolitions. Preservation organizations are not afraid to get their hands dirty in other cities. They get together and clean up endangered buildings, they fix them. They do not have to be owned by some locally important dead person or architect designed, if its old and historic they do everything in their power to save it.

Cincinnati needs to stop calling ourselves the "Queen City", all the Jewels in our crown are being taken away one by one... and either no one cares, or those that should are afraid to stand up and fight. Maybe we should just change our name to Detroit and get it over with.