Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Avondale Mansion "Rape": Updates and alternatives

I received this overnight, a statement from Waverly Auctions:

"We have only been hired to sell the personal effects and contents of the home. I agree that the home is beautiful and I have inquired as to the reasoning behind changing and "updating" so much of the home. The owner only replied that he intended to modernize the home and to make it more energy efficient by replacing the windows with modern, as well, he explained that due to the old wiring, many walls and floors were going to have to be severely damaged and/or removed, and because he is intending to "update" the home, he thought there would be buyers that have historic homes that could use these items, or people who would like to add historic architecture to a new structure. We agreed to show photos and to promote his wishes on the attached items and architecture. Anyone who wishes to purchase them items are dealing directly with the owner. I am only hoping that whoever purchases the architecture will enjoy it for years to come"

That being said. Auction Houses routinely deal with historic property. Any auction house KNOWS that removal of historic detail adversely affects the value of historic property. Many reputable Auction Houses now refuse to sell or assist in the sale of salvage items. Our policy as a antiques dealer and restoration consultants has been that we will not buy or sell architectural salvage UNLESS we know it is legitimately obtained and that it is only made available as a result of a historic structure being demolished for legitimate reason. I will not buy ANYTHING from an antique dealer or auction house unless they can document how they obtained it.

I sent an Email to Margo Warminski at Preservation, (who originally told me about it) suggesting she try to arrange a meeting with the property owner to explain he has other options that do not involve destroying this house.

So lets talk about "Updating this house". Replacement windows are the biggest SCAM out there and the most inefficient way to save money on an energy bill. These windows run several hundred dollars each including installation. They are not "maintenance free" either. These windows claim to have 20 yr life span, however failures of seal;s typically occur with 7-8 years. They areroutinly improperly installed and leak water into the walls.
Look at the R-value of the glass itself. Single pane glass gives you an R-value of 0.89. Two panes of glass equal to R-value of 1.78. You would also add a little for the gas that is found in insulated glass. As you can see by the numbers, glass in and of itself is not insulating at all. The PROBLEM with insulated windows in an old house is that they trap moisture inside the house. We are now seeing some data that suggests that overly "tight" homes may have a higher incidence of Black mold, help contain higher levels of Radon gas inside the house and prevent "outgasses" material from say plastics in a house from exiting the structure. A far better use of monies is a newer high efficiency furnace, insulating ductwork in basement or attic insulation. If one "insists' on greater efficiency there are magnetic storms that can be placed on historic windows that do not destroy the architectural value of a historic property.

Electrical Upgrades: Any competent electrical contractor will "fish' wiring or create minimally invasive "chases" in key locations to run wiring. In fact may things such as Internet, smoke alarm and intercoms are now run wirelessly , eliminating the need to run wiring. So the argument that major parts of this home will need to be destroyed is not correct.

So either the property owner is being deliberately misinformed by a "hack contractor" , OR, there is some "hidden agenda" for this property such as conversion for nursing home use or offices.

This brings the larger question. Why do we not have more restrictive preservation ordinances or districts within the city. Clearly areas like North Avondale, Dayton Street, Walnut hills and others need regulation to prevent the changing of windows and facades on historic structures.


Anonymous said...

The house has, in fact, been used as a nursing home (legality questionable) for many years. Zoning in the neighborhood does not permit such usage, but getting the city to do anything (for example, the storage pods at 4019 Beechwood Ave that have been there for 2 months and are on the grass) is difficult.

Anonymous said...

If the address given on Mondays post/coments is correct then this owner has no business owning ANY property. She has only contributed to the blight of this citys quality housing stock.

Anonymous said...

Is there a white knight out there who rescue the place? I don't understand what the intentions of the owner are. Does he plan to get immediate cash from the sales and then walk away from the house. I am sure there are ways of updating historic homes with out destroying the architecture.

Anonymous said...

Named owner in the hamilton auditor's office seems to have passed away March 27, 2009. Looking at the auditors office it seems the owner has 5 properties and the pictures of her houses in the auditor's site looks boarded up. Will the 4008 Rose hill house be next to be boarded up? Hope not.

Anonymous said...

Here's a history of the house. Was Mr Atkins the original owner?
C. H. M. Atkins, manufacturer, banker, prominent citizen, president of The Warner Elevator Company, and actively identified with numerous business and financial interests of Cincinnati is a native of this city. His parents were Richard L. Atkins, and Anna S. Warner. Ms. Warner’s father, Warren Warner, was born in Ohio. He became a partner in the firm of Miles Greenwood & Company, well known in connection with the manufacture of architectural iron work and the building of bridges, jails, bank vaults, and other structures, and during the war constructed boats and cannon for the government. In 1858, Warren Warner built the first hydraulic elevator, built in America, Cincinnati thus becoming the pioneer of the hydraulic elevator manufacturing industry.
C. H. M. Atkins became associated with his grandfather, Warren Warner, in business. The Warner Elevator Company was organized in 1860 and in 1887 was incorporated with Warren Warner, president and C. H. M. Atkins, secretary and treasurer. Upon the death of Mr. Warner, in 1891, Mr. Atkins became president and has ever since remained the executive head of the enterprise, one of the most important of its kind, ranking third in the output of electric elevators in the United States. The plant with its acres of floor space is equipped with the most modern machinery and the construction departments give employment to a large force of expert workmen. The trade extends to practically every civilized country and under the able management of Mr. Atkins, the business has developed along gratifying and substantial lines.
In Cincinnati on the second of March, 1897, Mr. Atkins married Lilla W., daughter of Captain John S. Jones of Maysville, Kentucky. Mr. and Mrs. Atkins are the parents of one son, Warner Lewis, who is attending the Franklin preparatory school. The parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. The family residence is at 4008 Rose Hill Avenue, Rose Hill Park

Anonymous said...

Found out the house is now under foreclosure. It is being sold at sheriff sale on June 18th See http://www.hcso.org/PublicServices/ExecutionSales/ExecPropertySales.aspx The court case # is A0810487. See http://www.courtclerk.org/case_summary.asp?sec=party&casenumber=A 0810487.

The current owner plans to "rape" it before it goes on sale.

Paul Wilham said...

Great detective work!
It may be possible to contact the bank or holder and get a legal injunction preventing the sale of the attached property.

I will forward this information to someone who may be in a position to do something. Thanks SO MUCH