Terrace Park, Ohio Building Survey

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No: 815  Street: Miami Name: Underwood House
Family: Olson Owner Info: Y
Built: 1893/5/98 Sec: 22 Sub: Sibley's 2nd BL 12 Lot: 15 - 19
Architect:  Cont/Build: 
Owners: 8?  Original Use: Residential Current Use: Residential
CHANGES As Built: N Add To: Y Sub From: N Replace: N
1966 building permit says addition to south side of building: living room, dining room, bedroom and bath.  Steinkamp & Nordloh, architects; Don Curless, builder; owner Robert N. Lindesmith.  From Lindesmith's son, Will -  Added four rooms: on the first floor, a formal living room, dining room, and "utility" room (with a walk-in pantry between the utility room and the kitchen);  on the second (actually reached through the stair landing), a large bedroom, full bath, a walk-in closet (with small attic space above it), and a railed deck, which was over the utility room.  The original living room became a music room and the original dining room, a family room. (see more below in Description.)  1973 - Fitzhugh Corr added a room.  1983 - added entry hall and closet.  Early 1980s - (?) bedroom added to 2nd floor.  1988-90 Harrisons restored the original outbuilding and enclosed the lean-to area.  Added a room off the kitchen, replaced and added deck (wood deck on concrete piers).  1991 - added to existing deck.  2003 - porch & deck on old deck area (Olson).  2005 permit for Olson to add & remodel - alteration to rear entry porch.  Charles Terrel. 
Current Owner: Stefan & Elizabeth Olson Date Fr: 1997 Date To: 
Original Owner: Roy L. Underwood  to Thusnelda E. Underwood (see deeds) Date Fr:  Date To: 1948
[Irvin J. Rauscher ( renters?) Date Fr 1: ??? Date To 1: ???
Owner 2: Foster C. & Martha Fahey Date Fr 2: 1948 Date To 2: 1954
Owner 3: James F. & Mary M. Daum Date Fr 3: 1954 Date To 3: 1959
Owner 4: John H. & Mary Eliz. Stevens Date Fr 4: 1959 Date To 4: 1966
Owner 5: Robert N. & Harriet "Roma" Lindesmith  Date Fr 5: 1966 Date To 5: 1973
Owner 6: Fitzhugh L. & Elizabeth D. Corr Date Fr 6: 1973 Date To 6: 1988
Owner 7: Robert Brandon Jr. & Agnes S."Tucky" Harrison Date Fr 7: 1988 Date To 7: 1997
Owner 8: Stephen P. Kenkel Tr.  Date Fr 8: 1997 Date To 8: 1997
Owner 9:  Date Fr 9:  Date To 9: 
Owner 10:  Date Fr 10:  Date To 10: 
1975 Owner:  Fitzhugh L Corr. 15 to 19 Sib 2
Description: 2 story Victorian, siding, gable roof.  When the Lindesmiths bought this house in 1966 "it was only a six-room house (with cellar) on the first floor, living room (fronting on the street), dining room, kitchen, and a tiny lavatory off the kitchen; on the second floor, two good-sized bedrooms, one very small bedroom (used I believe by the Stevens as a nursery), and a full bath."  Information from the Lindesmith's son, Will. 

Above (under Changes) you will see what was actually added to the house.  Will goes on to say,  "To give you an idea of what it looked like when my parents bought it, please look at the online picture labeled '1989 front':  if you uses the drainpipe running from the roof to the ground located just to the right of the middle window on the second floor front as a "line of demarcation," that was the end of the house: anything to the right of that pipe (on both floors) was added either by my parents or after 1973."

Will also tells us what was done inside the house by his parents:  "In the old living room, there were bookcases flanking a small Victorian fireplace.  My parents decided to knock through the cases, creating two entries into the new living room.  My father was extremely excited to find, under inches of plaster and wallpaper, a good-sized 'farm-style' brick fireplace; working with the architects, the decision was made to expose all the brickwork; convert the fireplace to gas; and have it open to both the new living room and the new music room (previously the old living room), featuring a raised hearth in the former and a flat one in the latter.  In the old dining room (the new family room), the open brick work of its fireplace was retained, as was the small Victorian-style grate.  It was my mother's idea to cut a "window" over the kitchen sink looking into the family room, her rationale being that '...I spend so d...mned much time in the kitchen, it might be nice to catch a glimpse of life out in the real world' (!)  Needless to say, it was also her idea to incorporate both the walk-in pantry and a full utility room into the new plans.  Little or nothing needed to be done to the old second floor: my bedroom was in the front (The two windows to the left, overlooking the street); my sister's was to the back (over the old dining room); the full bath was between my sister's bedroom and the tiny third bedroom; the tiny bedroom itself (which the Stevens used as a nursery) was turned into a TV room; and the upper landing was so spacious, my father was able to use it as his den.  (And in both the large bedrooms, you could still see traces of where fireplaces had, at one time, been.)"

Windows on the side of the new wing ("1998 front" picture): 1st  floor window #1- new living room; 1st floor window #2 - new dining room; 1st floor window #3 - utility room (almost completely hidden in this picture, more visible in the "1998 side" picture); 2nd floor window #1 - new master bedroom; 2nd floor windows #2 - added after Will's parents but in what was then the master bath; 2nd floor window #3 - added after Will's parents; "the not-easy-to-access deck that my parents built was enclosed and this window is in that room." 

Will does not remember any of the diamond-shaped windows, upstairs and down (in picture of Tillie at 315 Miami Avenue), that must have been removed before the Lindesmiths moved there.  He does comment on what a wonderful house this was for entertaining, both summer and winter, because it was so easy to circulate from one room to another and back around or outdoors.  "In summer, guests used either the brick-paved terrace running all along the back of the original structure, descending two or three small steps on either side down to the lawn; a large patio under an ENORMOUS tree in the back yard (gravel, enclosed by old railroad ties, trimmed with shrubs); or a little gravel area just outside of the new utility room, separated from the driveway.  There was a large glass-topped wrought-iron table and chairs on the terrace; deck chairs, a hammock, and small snack tables on the patio, and a picnic table and benches in the little gravel area."

Story 1: The original "garage" was built c1892 and was intended to provide electricity for Cincinnati.  By the time construction was completed, C. G. &.E. was in business and  that use never came to pass. The structure apparently was used as a water supply and outstation for the Terrace Park Fire Company.  It was later converted to an apartment, according to plumbing and wiring, but was in ruins and a hazard in the 1980s.  It has now been restored and is an office and workshop or den.
  Another story relates that Roy Underwood, who was married to Jean Gellhaus' mother's sister, Nelda, "built a steam powered electric plant next to his house to bring electricity to the village.  The building has been converted into a den."  Camilla Warrick relates in her Village Views May 1993 article that Roy Underwood "was the man responsible for bringing electrical street lights to Terrace Park in 1909.  His small, steam-powered electrical plant was built next to his home, a few doors down from the Traxel/Gellhaus cottage (809 Miami)."
  Can anyone explain these conflicting stories?
  "Here Comes Electricity" written by Stan Miller for the March 1971 issue of Village Views.  

On August 2, 1909 Council and H. A. Lloyd granted permission to R. L. Underwood to supply and sell electricity for public and private use in the Village and place on any and all streets, avenues and alleys of the Village all necessary poles, underground conduits, and electrical conductors and fixing the maximum price for the power.  

Mr. Roy L. Underwood, an electrical engineering graduate of Purdue University, set up his gas-engined power plant at what is now 815 Miami Avenue.  A portion of the building still stands and serves as a utility building by Robert and Roma Lindesmith.  

The conditions of the contract was for ten years, the right to place, maintain and use all necessary poles, abide by the rules of the National Board of Fire Underwriters, obtain permission from the Village where all poles were set and leave all streets in good condition.  

The charge to private users were to be 10 per hour when measured by meter or 5 per month for all lamps installed on a flat rate basis.  You could purchase your own meter or if one was ordered installed, it would be prorated in the monthly charges until paid for.  

The charge for each street lamp would be $75.00 per year for a 450 arc lamp, other than on moonlight nights.  That would pro rated at $60.00 per year.  Those that were turned off at 1:00 AM would cost only $40.00 per year.  

Mr. Underwood was given 3 months to start and 6 months to start service.  The Village to be given the first right of purchase in case it is sold.  The Council room to receive free lighting.  Probably one of those 5 a month bulbs.  He was bonded for $1000.00 for faithful performance of his contract.  

But, here comes Ordinance No. 179-1911 passed November 21, 1911 under W. M Fry, Mayor, attested to by W. E. Williamson, Clerk whereby the Village contracts with the Cincinnati, Milford and Loveland Traction Company for electricity on practically the same conditions, and charges.  

What happened?  Mr. Underwood apparently went broke and the Village must have picked up the contract for the Traction Company was to pay the Village $800.00 for the present poles, wires, transformers, lamps and other accessories.  The company to pay off in service until it was wiped out.  

We wonder why he went for broke when he was getting 10 per kilowatt hour and now we pay 5 for the first 40 kilowatts, with a graduated scale on down to where if you use 538 kilowatts, it is 1 per hour.  

He received $75.00 per year for one street lamp.  The cost per light now for most of our lights and perhaps better, is only 46.90 per year.  Just maybe there was to many moonlight nights and to many turned off at 1:00 AM.  Anyway we owe a debt of gratitude along with our sympathies to Mr. Underwood for his attempt to bring the Village out of darkness into the light.  He helped to rid the Villagers of their oil lamps, lanterns and candles. 

Now, contract with Cincinnati, Milford and Blanchester Traction Company by Ordinance 242-1923 passed October 12th incorporates power services.  For instance, meters 1 horse power or larger, cooking stoves or ranges, and other electrical equipment other than lighting equipment and socket appliances, such as irons, toasters, etc.  They were to charged at the maximum rate of $0.06 per kilowatt hour.  I just was not aware that these appliances were available that early.  Mayor D. J, Durrell and S. R. S. West, Clerk, handled this contract.  The Traction Company did not make it to Loveland but chose Blanchester instead.  The power plant was located in Montauk, that is, Milford on this side of the Little Miami River.

  Electricity 8/2/1909.  Ordinance #150, passed August 2, 1909 gave permission to R. L. Underwood to sell electrical power for public and private use.  A portion of the building, now converted, still stands at 815 Miami Avenue.  Street lights were to cost $75.00 per year, less if the moon was shining, plus a $40.00 charge if they were turned off at 1:00 a. m.  However, the way the ordinance read, Mayor H. A. Lloyd was skeptical of Mr. Underwood's ability to deliver.  Thus on November 11, 1911, the Village contracted for electricity with The Cincinnati, Milford and Loveland Traction Company.  
Story 2: 1911-12 Directory: Roy Underwood - mechanical engineer & George Underwood (Lucy) painter. 
Story 3: Marie Stoecklin remembers the Seed family who lived here in the 1930s and 40s  for about 10 years.  They rented from Roy Underwood 1935-1942.  There were 6 children: Dorothy (married Rohrer), Duane, Hugh, Roland, Sarah "Sally" and Connie.  Connie was a friend of one of the Stoecklin's daughters.  Roland played basketball with Eppa Rixey.  Sarah Seed Seedhouse lives in Strongsville Ohio, Cleveland area (2003).  Her son Brian now lives in the Cincinnati area and works for Fifth Third Bank.  Sarah remembers Terrace Park as a wonderful place to grow up.  One could go anywhere and feel safe and happy.   She also remembers walking to the Post Office and the little store as well as going to the movies in Milford.  The family came here from Detroit and moved to Fort Mitchell KY for a year and then to the Cleveland area.  Hugh also remembers Terrace Park as a wonderful place to grow up - "no place like it.  Every block had a field".  He spent a lot of time at the Gooder's home on Yale.  He remembers a lot of families:  Gellhaus, Clancey, Mathis, Gerard, Proctor, West, Stevens, Steelman and others.    Tom Proctor also remembers the Seed family, especially two of the boys who were wonderful jitter buggers.  All the girls wanted to dance with them.  
Story 4: More information from Will Lindesmith - "With regard to the deck, I did not understand then - nor do I understand now! - why the only access to this deck [over the utility room] was by a fairly uncomfortable climb through either the closet window, master bathroom window, or the window in the small bedroom."             
  The outbuilding was called 'the little house'.  The story we heard was that at one point, it was used as an artist's studio.  There was an open-ended 'garage' (really just a carport) attached to this.  And though quite attractive from the outside, the inside was in appalling shape: while there were traces of a kitchen, a bath, and a loft area (perhaps for sleeping?), the structure was so weak, we only used - for storage purposes - the front portion of the main room.  (Though there was some vague talk from time to time of restoring this building into a small apartment, my parents were not there long enough for anything to become of this plan.)
  We were also told that at one point in the past, part of the cellar had been used to cultivate mushrooms (!); certainly it was moldy enough to add credence to this story.  (This story and "the little house" info probably from the Stevens, previous owners or from Gerry Morgan in real estate across the street.)  
  Anecdote - "Shortly after moving in, one of the neighbors came over to introduce herself.  During the chat, the woman asked, 'What are you doing about the bank?'  For an agonizing moment, mother was nonplussed, wondering what on earth business was it of hers.  Mercifully, before she could say anything, it clicked in her mind that the question pertained to the chronic erosion problem of the steep drop-off from the back lawn down to the Little Miami, and not mortgages, financing, and such things..  It seems that the ongoing tradition had been for the village to dump all downed tree limbs, branches, etc. over the cliff: this was a less-than-ideal solution, as after heavy rains, parts of this mass would wash into the river.  I do remember, though, that my father bought portions of an old iron fire escape from a building being demolished in Milford.  The rationale was that it would provide easy access to the river bank (where, for a brief period, he kept a small fishing skiff).  In actuality, this didn't work too well, as the fire escape was precariously (at best!) anchored, and every time a heavy storm was predicted, the skiff had to be dragged half-way up the cliff (NOT an easy task, I assure you.)"  "Oh, and by the way, few - if any! - guests ever took up my father's offer to go down the fire escape steps to the rive r bank for a ride in the skiff..."
Story 5: Did the Irvin J. Rauschers live here - renters from Roy Underwood or the Underwood family?
Story 6: Ron Bernert (son of Mary Armstrong at 209 Stanton) has a story to tell and wonders if it's all true.  "Back in the early 80's, there was a set of old cast iron steps going down the bank partially to the river.  (This was no doubt the fire escape bought by Robert Lindesmith)  They were in such bad shape you could not use them, but near the bottom was a large steel boiler or something about 20 feet from the river.  It was about 15 feet across at one point.  We were bored one day so we tore most of it up and threw it into the Little Miami, but we were told that it was the boiler from the original power company that provided power for Terrace Park when the railroad was around.  We were told this by an old man who lived a couple of doors down."  Does anyone know more about this or can anyone confirm what the structure was?  
1939 Map: Seed (renters?)
1942 Map: Seed (renters?)
1951/3 Map: Foster Fahey
1959 Directory: James & Mary Daum
1960-66 Directories: John & Mary Stevens
1967-70 Directories: Robert "Bob"& Roma Lindesmith (P&G)
1971-72 Direct: " (Bob retired from P&G in 1973. They relocated to Florida.  He died there in 1993.  Roma died in 2004)
1973-86 Directories: Fritz & Buffy Corr (moved from 100 Red Bird)
1988-97 Directories: R. Brandon Jr. & Tucky Harrison (Sold 1988)
1998-2012 Directories: Stefan & Elizabeth Olson (moved from 800 Elm)