Tri-State Hiking Club .com Message Board › History of Price Hill
Please print of this and the directions in the event you want to walk ahead of the group.
HISTORY OF PRICE HILL
Price Hill was once praised as Cincinnati's most popular and distinctive suburb. It was a neighborhood where one could escape the smells of the city and enjoy the comforts, peace, and prosperity of living in a hilltop resort community. To this day, many descendants of those early residents live, worship, work, and play on that same western hill, Price's Hill.
Like all of metropolitan Cincinnati, the neighborhood of Price Hill was originally part of the great Symmes Purchase. Imagine a wilderness of forest and streams, with our many hills and bluffs used as lookout posts for Indians. There is concrete evidence of the early moundbuilders in the area, as an old Indian mound once stood on the site of the Elberon Heights Country Club, which was established on Overlook Avenue in 1912.
In 1791, William Terry built his log cabin in the midst of a virgin forest that was home to the local Indian tribes. This was probably the first home on Bold Face Hill, named for Chief Bold Face, and the original name of Price Hill.
Many early prominent citizens followed, settling on the hill and carving out huge estates from the surrounding wilderness. You may wonder why the name changed to Price's Hill as the area was populated.
General Rees E. Price, after whom Price Hill was named, was born August 12, 1795, the eldest son of Evan Price, a wealthy Welsh merchant, and his wife Sarah Pierce Price, a woman of remarkable beauty. Rees Price is remembered in history as a thoughtful, handsome, hard-laboring man who possessed great strength. On December 9, 1824, he married Sarah Matson, daughter of Judge Matson, and together they raised eight children. Rees invested in land west of the Mill Creek, as his father had done. He built a brickyard and a sawmill and laid out a subdivision. His sons, John and William Price, continued to develop the Mill Creek valley and built the Incline Plane in 1874 with funds provided by their father.
By the time Rees died on June 20, 1877, Price Hill was becoming a thriving community. The new mode of transportation known as the Incline climbed 350 feet over the top of the hill and brought thousands of newcomers to the area. They were heard chanting "Go west, young man," as many wealthy and prominent families realized that this was truly the place to live. It was away from the pork traffic and away from the overcrowded industrial areas, up where the air was clean. The altitude of these western hills reaches as much as 860 feet above sea level.
When the Eighth Street Viaduct was completed in 1893 and the city's rapid transit system was extended into Price Hill in 1894, the suburb flourished. Four steel water tanks on a tower 120 feet high were erected on a block of beautiful elevated ground surrounded by Considine, Purcell, Glenway, and Brevier Avenues. Houses went up in the platted subdivisions named for their developers, and streets bore the names of many early settlers.
An incredible array of suburban home designs was offered to the discriminating buyer. The architecture of this period, from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, cannot be identified by one or two dominant styles. Many of the local architects borrowed design characteristics from Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Second Empire buildings, just to name a few.
Old books, family memories, oral histories, and research of these homes' pasts give us a picture of a community possessed of style, grace, cleanliness, and neighborhood support. Our early residents used their skills well to build our community. Even the simplest Price Hill home often had a rich and varied interior, showing the conscious attempt of the inhabitants to strive for improvement and progress in their lives, or, in the words of Gustav Stickley, "the reality of the worldwide movement in the direction of better things."
We invite you to wander down the streets of our neighborhood. The neatly trimmed houses attract your attention. The first feature of the house that you see is the front porch. The porch was a symbol of wealth and welcome, a connection to the outdoors. As the popularity of porches grew, so did their functions. Houses would boast sleeping porches for hot summer nights, porch pavilions for entertaining, enclosed entries to shelter you from bad weather, and open porches where you could just sit and swing on peaceful days.
There were no paved driveways for motorcars when Price Hill was growing up. In fact, the first automobile didn't appear in Cincinnati until 1901, and one of the biggest reasons for the decline of front porches was the motorcar. It took over the streets, bringing with it noise, speed, and pollution. It is interesting to note that some developers showed genuine concern for protecting their neo-Victorian subdivisions from the invasion of the automobile. Glenway Subdivision, for instance, mandated that each new home have a front porch and that the homes be built closer together to prohibit off-street parking, which would limit cars in the area. Our early planners were seeking to retain the pedestrian lifestyle of the suburb.
1. Cincinnati Bible College and Ring Place-this was once the location of the Neff Estate. Peter and Isabella Neff came to Cincinnati from Switzerland in 1835. They ran a successful hardware business on Pearl Street between Race and Vine. They imported the worlds finest cutlery which was used extensively by Cincinnati?s pork industry. Long before the Price Hill Incline opened up the area to development, Neff decided to construct a mansion in Western Hills atop Mt. Harrison. (named for President William Henry Harrison who had a hunting lodge nearby.) The mansion included a underground tunnel to connect the main house to the coach house and took two years to complete. It was named Mistletoe Heights.
Thirty years later, he and his sons, built a second mansion across the glen. (These days it would be across the street as the glen dried up and became Glenway Avenue.) This mansion was occupied by William Howard Neff, one of the sons who had deep religious convictions. William and his father Peter were amoung the founders of Spring Grove Cemetery. Isabella, Peter?s wife, was the first person placed in the cemetery.
Eventually, the family began selling parcels off which became Ring Place where the second mansion stood. A landslide in 1944 destroyed the mansion and it was razed.
Mistletoe Heights was inherited by Peter Rudolph, a son of Peters who was a child prodigy. He was admitted to Woodward High at age 10, spoke several languages, was a colonel in the Civil War, and had a love of music and arts. He helped to establish the College of Music and was the president of the Cincinnati Philharmonic. In 1901, we sold Mistletoe Heights to Dr. Beebe who turned it into the Grandview Sanitarium for those with ?mental and nervous disorders? or ?alcohol or drug habits?. In 1939, the building was transformed into the Cincinnati Bible College and Seminary where is stood for 55 years until it was razed to build a chapel and new school. Several members of civic groups tried to spare it by having it moved to the Glenway Park where it could be used as a Town Hall. After much controversy, it was demolished on July 28, 1997.
2. Rosecrans House: Home of Civil War General, William Starke 2935 Lehman Road in Price Hill
The sturdy thick-walled stone house on Lehman Road was built high on the hilltop in 1850 and its rear windows overlook the river. The stone used to build its three stories is believed to have been quarried from a nearby spot on Glenway Avenue. A tunnel running through the backyard and a sub-basement indicate that it was probably used as a station for the Underground Railroad, preceding the Civil War. During the war years it was headquarters for General William Starke Rosecrans (1819-1898), with Colonel Joseph Burke in command.
W. S. Rosecrans (1819 -1898) was born in Delaware County, Ohio. His father was Dutch, and his mother traced back her descent to Timothy Hopkins, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In Henry Howe?s Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes, published in 1907, it was noted that ?while other boys were at play, [the general and his brother, who later became a bishop] were noted for their studious habits.? W. S. Rosecrans attended West Point at 15 and later served in the Army Engineer Corps. In 1853 he came to Cincinnati to take a civil engineering position and to make his home here.
Barbara Pilaia of Delhi found a note to his wife behind a photo of her great-great grandfather that she was given as a child. It read: ?This is a New Year?s present.
If I should not get home, you may say that I have died at my post. Your beloved husband. W.R.?
The note behind the picture was very likely written shortly before the battle of Stone River; one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and was fought against General Bragg in Tennessee. Whether or not, General Rosecrans knew how difficult this battle would be, history doesn?t say, but his note would indicate that he did. The fighting started December 31 and was over on January 3, 1863, but by the time it was over each side had lost one third of their man, and it took six months for Rosecrans? Army of the Cumberland to recover.
But Rosecrans was determined to pursue and finally defeat Bragg, as he had been ordered. Washington could not give him the additional troops, horses, and artillery he requested and badly needed, because Grant was in Vicksburg, and everything available was being sent there. However, the general had a real asset in his own men who admired him immensely and had dubbed him, ?Old Rosey?. When he could finally advance, he skillfully maneuvered Bragg out of Tennessee and into Georgia, freely Chattanooga, which was the main artery of the Confederates provision lines. This was a real stroke of genius and Rosecrans was in hot pursuit of Bragg?s troops in North Georgia. But the South would not allow this blow to be dealt and Lee instantly dispatched Longstreet?s entire corps to aid Bragg. When Rosecrans realized that Bragg had been reinforced and was ready to strike back, he quickly re-grouped behind Chicamauga Creek. Immediately he sent Washington urgent telegrams explaining the dire situation and again begged for troops. This time Washington said yes, and asked General Grant to send two of his units. But Grant?s troops never arrived. After being hit by Bragg and 75,000 Confederates, General Rosecrans was able to move what was left of his 40,000 men back to Chattanooga and hold it until finally, General Hooker and 20,000 reinforcements came to his aid.
It was at this time, that Grant was given command of the Union armies from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi and his first official act was to remove General Rosecrans, still under siege at Chattanooga, from his command.
In 1863, Rosecrans also became the commander of the Department of the Ohio and was reputed to live on Lehman Road. He opened the Sanitary Fair on December 21, 1863 in which exhibits, lectures, and other fund-raising activities raised about $250,000 from Cincinnatians for soldier Relief. He resigned from the Army in 1867.
Rosecrans served as Minister to Mexico from 1868 to1869, a Democratic member of Congress from California from 1881 to 1885, and the Register of the United States Treasury from 1885 to 1893. A special act of Congress re-appointed Rosecrans a brigadier general and placed him on the retired Army list.
Records of the Sisters of Charity show that in 1850, 37 nuns moved into it and established a combination Mother House and school for women-Mount St. Vincent Academy. The school was later was moved to Glenway Avenue as The Cedar Grove School which finally became known as Seton High School. The Mother House is now at the College of Mount St. Joseph.
William Rosecrans? brother, Sylvester Horton Rosecrans (1827-1878), was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy on June 5, 1853 and taught theology at the old Mount St. Mary?s Seminary on Grand Avenue. He was appointed titular Bishop of Pompeiopolis and first auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati on March 25, 1863. It is during this period that he is believed to have lived on Lehman Road. On October 31, 1878, Bishop Rosecrans was appointed the first Bishop of the then new diocese with its center in Columbus and was buried in that city.
Mrs. Hoffman bought the building in 1955 and during remodeling she entered the attic and discovered a small trove of civil war mementos hidden under the floorboards. According to a 1959 newspaper clip, confirmed with her family, she found papers dealing with the court martial proceedings of AWOL soldiers, as well as several medical certificates. One allowed a soldier to stay in the shade for 30 days because of an aversion to sunlight. Another excused a man from bathing. Also recovered was a receipt showing that the Army paid 6 ½ cents each for 600 bars of soap, and 18 cents each for 350 candles.
3. St. Lawrence Church located at 3680 Warsaw Avenue, in Price Hill, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The church was built on one of the highest hilltops in Cincinnati. The mother parish was St. Michael's in lower Price Hill.
St Lawrence Church was organized at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in 1868 under the direction of Rev. J. M. Bonner. A tract of land was purchased and a building erected which was dedicated June 12, 1870. In 1886, work was begun on the present gothic structure and the corner-stone was laid October 16, 1886. The basement was dedicated May 22, 1887. The superstructure was completed and the new church dedicated September 30, 1894 by Archbishop William Henry Elder. The new church is 72 x 165 feet and cost $106,000. In 1896, the congregation numbered 475 families.