Ryan Messer and Jimmy Musuraca-Messer are no strangers to cool home renovations. They restored an Italianate house in Over-the-Rhine overlooking Washington Park. We actually featured it a few years ago. But eventually, their burgeoning family outgrew that space. And so, they moved out of the urban core into historic North Avondale.
The word “historic” is key here, because they didn’t find any old home. They purchased a 15,000-square-foot, 1.8-acre Beaux-Arts style home from 1897, which was originally built for the Enger family by Matthew H. Burton. (Note: The architectural style is sometimes referred to as “palazzo,” due to the three materials on the facade: limestone on the bottom, narrow Italian bricks in the middle, and a terra-cotta frieze at the top.)
Not familiar with the Engers?
At the turn-of-the-century, Franklin Enger made his fortune by capitalizing on the switch from carriage manufacturing to automobile production. Perhaps The Enger Motor Car Company rings a few bells for ya? If not, it doesn’t really matter. The point is the Engers had money, and they used it to hire the best craftsmen to build a one-of-a-kind historic residence North Avondale.
Fast forward 120 years later, the house has undergone a bit of an interior facelift. But even before Musuraca-Messer and Messer purchased 992 Marion Ave. (which was in April 2016) and after the Enger family had left, Marion Hall has had some stories to tell. In 1943, Xavier University took over the mansion, turning it into a dormitory. It remained in Xavier's hands until 1991. One can only imagine the ragers... It was also, at one time, the grandparents' home of well-known Cincinnatian Melody Sawyer Richardson.
Suffice to say, it’s a home that’s seen a lot of life. But it had fallen into disrepair. A house that would normally have you stopping your car in awe had begun to leave the opposite impression. It’s like when your mom asks if you’re going to brush your hair before leaving the house Oh, so I look that bad? Apparently, yes.
Marion Hall had become an abandoned museum to the past, but with no caretaker. Thankfully, Jimmy & Ryan saw through the weeds, collapsed porch, asbestos, and more. They saw their future home, with their three children and French bulldog. They saw an opportunity to bring a piece of history back to life.
While owning this home will be an ongoing project, they were able to bust through a good majority of the necessary restoration fixes in four months. They moved in around mid-August of 2016. And now this elegant, solidly-built masterpiece is ready to take on the next century.
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For a tour inside Marion Hall, scroll back to the top and visit the gallery.