Cincinnati is chock-full of beautiful, historic homes. One can find them in Walnut Hills, Price Hill, Terrace Park, and myriad of other neighborhoods. The house we’d like to bring your attention to today can be found in Clifton. And you can actually visit it this weekend, during the Clifton House Tour on Sunday, May 13 from 1-5pm.
Thanks to research by Walter E. Langsam, architectural historian and retired University of Cincinnati professor, we have a wealth of information about the William Resor home at 254 Greendale Ave. (Please note that the paragraphs below were written by Langsam.)
The WILLIAM RESOR HOME
As one of the earliest remaining residences in Clifton, the William Resor house dates back to 1843, when it was a restrained Greek Revival cubic farmhouse. After the Civil War it was altered and remodeled, and finally turned 90 degrees in 1893 to face the new Greendale Avenue, which the family developed on their once extensive property.
The patriarch of the family was Jacob Resor who arrived in 1811 by flatboat at Cincinnati from Mercersburg, Pa., and established a thriving tin and copper-smithing business. By 1819, he and his sons William and Reuben were manufacturing stoves; they received the patent for the Resor cooking stove in 1835 and opened Cincinnati’s first stove factory. Before the Civil War, the Resors’ stoves were already considered unequaled for economy in fuel consumption, durability, quality, and elegance.
In 1870, Sidney D. Maxwell wrote in The Suburbs of Cincinnati, “There is no more desirable place in Clifton than that of William Resor. He has about thirty acres of land that lie in graceful waves, and extend back to the Carthage road on the east” (now Vine Street). He goes on to state that additions and changes including a Second-Empire-style Mansard roof, and broad verandas had already modified the original design by the time of the book’s publication. An elegant circular porch on the right corner was an addition to the four-square porches (now enclosed on two sides) that surround the main block, and a rear service wing was added. Lining the shallow domed porch are slender cast-iron columns crowned with lotus leaves that convey an overall appearance of delicacy and airiness.
THE INFLUENCE OF ARCHITECT ISAIAH ROGERS
Although the architects of the home’s various phases are unknown, a major American mid-19th-century architect, Isaiah Rogers (1800-1869), designed a refined Gothic Revival cast-iron and glass conservatory, formerly appended to the east façade, and he and his apprentice Alfred B. Mullett (1834-1890) may have been responsible for the third-floor Mansard roof, the multicolored hexagonal roof slates, and the delicate cast-iron roof cresting (a rare survival), as well as bold Italianate interior alterations.
Rogers, known as “the father of the American hotel,” came to Cincinnati in 1849 to create the Burnet House Hotel at 3rd and Vine streets, the former location of the residence of Judge Jacob Burnet, who was an uncle of Mrs. William Resor. Besides these structures, Rogers also designed the Reuben Resor Castle at 3517-19 Cornell Place (1846-54), plus Mayor GeorgeHatch’s house on Dayton Street in the West End (1850-1852), and “Hillforest” in Aurora, Indiana, the elegant 1855 Italianate mansion built for the Thomas Gaff family and now a National Historic Landmark.
DON'T OVERLOOK THE DETAILS
Before entering the home, one stands in an enclosed side porch, admiring the Italianate detailing and rare “Bohemian” colored-glass window panels around the doors. The central hall contains elaborate cross-arches that run from one side of the house to the other, with a Double Parlor on the left; a Den and Dining Room on the right are divided by the imposing main staircase. The Drawing Room features two generous bay-windows that originally faced Clifton Avenue, as well as two mantels. One is a handsome Italianate marble design surrounding an architectural cast-iron grate; the other is a flat marble panel centered on the unique original furnace vent that displays the Resor’s business. The woodwork and ceiling of this ample room were highly decorated shortly after the Civil War in the late Italianate style. The woodwork features incised stylized patterns and the unified ceiling murals are unusually handsome in a similar manner (since repainted according to the original design).
In the Dining Room are two spectacular built-in Italianate sideboards (one replacing the original fireplace), a bracketed cornice, a beamed ceiling, and high-quality hardwood flooring. The latter displays ingenious patterns at the corners with a shallow recess in the center to accommodate carpeting originally laid under the dining table: all of these are rare survivals. The Den contains another square bay-window (filling in part of the original porch) and a simpler but stylish black marble mantel. In this room, be sure to note the owner’s collection of maps of Clifton and elsewhere. In the added service wing, a modern Kitchen and Family Room flank the back-stairs.
SEE IT FOR YOURSELF
First, don’t forget to scroll back to the top and peek the photo gallery featuring this gorgeous home. Second, buy a ticket for this Sunday’s Clifton House Tour. The tour will include seven homes plus an additional historical location.
For more information, click here.