Thursday, June 11, 2009

Avondale Mansion: A "WIN" for Historic Preservation

With the announcement that Waverly Auctions was cancelling their Auction Tag sale this weekend Historic Preservationists could count the day as one for the "win' column, a rare occasion when a house is saved from certain destruction. In 20 or so years as someone active in Historic Preservation efforts I have seen some "bizarre" circumstances but none quite so twisted and convoluted as this.

Historic houses often find themselves as major players in "soap operas'. Birth, death, divorce, sibling rivalry are all forces that can put a historic home on the "brink" of destruction. Certainly the set of circumstances in the case of the Avondale mansion all point to how diligent we as individuals passionate about saving all things historic must be now.

Not only do we have to check the obvious things like demolition permits, Condemn orders and change of ownership, we now have to check such things as death records, court cases, auction sales and foreclosure records.

Consider for a moment the set of circumstances concerning the Mansion at 4008 Rose Hill. the property is owned by an elderly woman who is a 'compulsive buyer' . The house is packed to the brim with purchases, one literally cannot walk through some rooms because of all the 'stuff' inside. She feeds her 'buying addiction' through profits made from renting what one might be referred to as 'slum properties' in other parts of the city while she lives in one of the more exclusive areas in a proud little mansion.

The owner dies and several people come forward to "claim' and inheritance but because of her addiction to buying things, EVERYTHING she owns is heavily mortgaged including the Rose Hill Mansion. Bills have piled up and those creditors want their money. So banks do what banks do and file foreclosure proceedings against the "estate". Hopefull heirs,real and imagined, expectant of a windfall, come to the realization that there is no "pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow, but rather a quirky eccentric who literally bought junk on a daily basis, spent all her money and because of her buying addition went heavily in debt. There IS no inheritance , no pot of gold.

USBANK goes to court and is awarded the only major thing of value the Rose Hill Mansion and they request a Sheriff's sale to satisfy the debt. The house is "packed ' to the brim with stuff' and it all will likely wind up in some dumpster somewhere.

So some "heir" comes up with a scheme to make a buck, get a share of that "pot of gold' they were "cheated' out of by the eccentricities of a dead woman with a compulsive buying addiction. days away from a sheriff's sale they approach an auction house claiming ownership and arrange a tag sale of the contents of a house they have no legal right to even enter. Knowing that the house will soon be sold they concoct a story that they will be doing some "updating' to the house and decide to sell off windows, mantles, light fixtures, flooring, anything they can "pry up' because they know in less than a week the house will be sold. Presevationists become skeptical of this.

The auction house has no clue of the subterfuge at hand and they almost become accomplices in a major theft. Had a loyal reader of my blog not done some deep digging and research, and found out about the impending sheriff's sale and had I not sent that information to the auction house. The mansion on Rose Hill might have been stripped of everything valuable and the courts would be spending years trying to track it all down. Avondale might have lost an architectural treasure. Neighbors are keeping a watchfull eye until the sale in an effort to keep family members from stealing anything from the house at this moment.

So preservation 'wins' one today. Unfortunately it is only a small victory. the house will be sold at sheriff's sale with an opening bid of only 140,000.00 a fraction of what the historic mansion is worth. We can hope that someone comes along who will be a good steward of the home, who will love and cherish it but we can not be certain. There is no protection for this home. Avondale is not yet a declared historic district and that at best would only help protect its facade. Its historic interior, the grand woodwork and historic plaster and fixtures are still very much at risk. So while we won a small victory the final chapter of the manison on Rose hill is not yet written. We can only hope the right buyer comes along. They will certainly have a story to tell of the eccentric old woman witha compuslisive shopping addiction, greedy heirs , and unwitting auction house and preservationists who saved the day.


D R E W said...

i'm happy this was able to be resolved.

this brings me back to the point i made last week on my blog. there needs to be some sort of program to find people that would be interested in purchasing and renovating this house.

Anonymous said...

Would be nice if the city supported people coming in to renovate these properties by offering special financing and tax breaks!

Paul Wilham said...

If you are renovating your home you can get a 10 year tax abatement: per city website.

The renovation abatement is 100% of the property’s increased value, up to a market value of $283,250 for a 10-year term (the market value limit increases by 3% compounded each year). Minimum costs are $2,500 for one and two unit structures and $5,000 for three unit structures. Rehabbed condominiums, one, two, and three unit dwellings qualify as well as condominium conversions. Tax must be paid on land.

For example, if the owner of a $75,000 home makes $25,000 in improvements, the owner is only responsible for taxes based on the home's value prior to improvements for a period of 10 years. The portion of the tax by which the remodeling increased the value of the structure may be abated up to a maximum $283,250 market value.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help. Information that were posted on your blog, were gathered from the people of North Avondale who live in the neighborhood where this house is. I had passed them on to you so you could pass it on to people who could stop the destruction of the house. It is thru the help of the residents of this great neighborhood that the house was saved at least for now. Residents in N. Avondale cares a lot about their neighborhood.

We now hope that a decent person will buy the house and restore it. Maybe you could help find a decent buyer.

North Avondale will be vigilant.

Anonymous said...

Buying the house at 140K is not the problem. Restoring it; upkeep ;utilities for heating will be the bigger cost. This would be great house to turn "green". Maybe this could a project for an environmental company and make it their showcase.

Paul Wilham said...

I would hope the house gets restored.

There is a group in Indianpolis called St Margarets Guild that renovates and decorates a historic mansion every year. They have two tours one "before' then the after in which the house is open for several days. This 'Decorator show house" is highly sucessfull and a great fundraiser for the guild and a great benefit to the homeowner. The materials and time are dontaed, Things like the electrical and furnace, kitchen and such. The homeowner has the option at the end of the show to buy any of the furnishings "loaned' by local interior disigner for the tour. If Avondale residents could organize something similar with proceeds going to start a revolving fund to buy and stabilize other historic homes so they could be resold to prervation minded people I bet it would be highly sucessfull.

Anonymous said...

The The Auction Gallery, Jerry Ball auctioneer still went ahead with the sale

This sale is Sunday June 14th from 6a to ?

Location: 4008 Rose Hill

North Avondale

Cincinnati, Ohio

Directions: I-75 north of downtown Cincinnati, take the Mitchell Ave. exit go right until it ends and then go left and then an immediate 1st left to Rose Hill and curve to the right to the 7th house on the right.

This is an enormous sale! I am selling to the bare walls! Everything will be a dollar an item!

Vintage clothes over 10,000 pieces of mainly woman's clothing and accessories!

Glassware, kitchenalia, what nots, odds and ends, books, albums, old paper, lamps, crazy weird stuff, everything under the sun! Everything will be $1.00 per item!!!

The furniture is everything from amtique, to vintage to modern! All furniture items will be sold for $5.00 to $50.00 per item, not less or anymore! We are blowing everything out!

This is a huge four level mansion! It is completely packed full some rooms and closets you can not even get in!!! We will sell everything out!

Bring a friend, bring flashlights, bring trucks and vans, we will load you up! This is the sale to not miss!!!

There is no electricity, no working bathrooms, so be prepared! We will accept cash only, enter at your own risk, no children allowed and large volume buys accepted!

Doors open at 6am and we will sell until it is all gone!

No fixtures will be sold by us!


Jerry Ball

The Auction Gallery

(859) 743-2472

PS: This is not an auction, it is a tag sale!!!

bodybagger bates said...

I went to this sale,and despite trying to find at least one thing in this house from top to filthy bottom,not one piece of property brought into this 'mansion'was worth what it was sitting on or in. Filth,everywhere. Thank God there was no lights it would have only enlarged the junk piles. This is not a mansion this was a fancy Rumpke container. Re-doing this house would mean tearing it out to the walls and throwing everything including the walls and floors away.

Owen said...

I just purchased 4008 Rose Hill in January 2011. It will require a huge amount of work, but I'm hoping it will all be worth it. It is an amazing house, in spite of the awful things that have happened to it in the intervening two years. One thing that is bothering me is that a guy bought the dining room and stair landing windows. Judging by your blog and the other information I've seen, it sounds like the guy bought stolen goods. I was put in touch with him by the person I bought the house from. He is asking $32,000 for the return of the windows. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Caleb said...

Hello Owen, Sorry I am not of much assistance to your question but I have a question for you. How is the interior of the home? are the large wooden beams and many of the beautiful leaded windows still there??