Cincinnati Preservation Association Tour 2012
Upstairs, Downstairs Historic House Tour
On Saturday, May 12, 2012, the Cincinnati Preservation Association will share a historic treasure with the public when they open the doors to Pinecroft, the 13,500-square-foot mansion built in Mt. Airy for Powel Crosley, Jr. Also, the original home of Crosley’s son will be open for touring just across the street.
History of Pinecroft:
One of the Queen City’s most beloved historic treasures, Pinecroft was the estate of famed inventor, industrialist and entrepreneur Powel Crosley, “Cincinnati’s Thomas Edison.” Crosley lived in the house until his death in 1961. In 1963, the property was sold to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, who used the house as a convent and sold 40 acres, leaving 73. In 1969 St. Francis Hospital bought the property and two years later built Providence Hospital, which eventually was renamed Mercy Hospitals West. In 2011 Mercy Health donated the house and 17 acres to Cincinnati Preservation Association.
Pinecroft was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008 for its historic and architectural significance.
About the house:
Built in 1928 in the Tudor Revival style, Pinecroft was designed by nationally significant architect James Dwight Baum. Typical of the style are the picturesque, multi-gabled asymmetrical massing, masonry and half-timbered walls, undulating tile shingle roof, crenellated tower, Tudor-arched openings, and grouped diamond-pane casement windows. This grand residence includes 13,500 square feet, stands 145 feet long, and cost approximately $750,000 to build in 1920s dollars.
Well cared for since it was built, the house retains many wonderful interior features including grand fireplaces, paneling and plaster decoration.
The formal rooms and Mr. Crosley’s bedroom feature massive stone fireplaces and carved white oak paneling with linen-fold and other designs, most of the doors throughout the house are six-pane solid oak doors. The walls and ceilings are plaster; some of the ceilings have decorative plaster moldings in the Elizabethan mode. Hardware, such as door handles and hinges, was supplied by Samuel Yellin (1885-1940), America’s master iron craftsman of the twentieth century.1 The leaded glass casements, many with delicately tinted glass, bear crests of the State of Ohio and the University of Cincinnati. The bathrooms include colorful tile—each in a different color scheme—by the Cincinnati-based Wheatley Tile and Pottery Company, and Crane fixtures chosen to harmonize with the tile.
Features of the interior:
The stair hall features heavy timbers salvaged from old barns. The ceiling has exposed wood beams with woven fabric in between. A square stone plaque set in the floor beside the stair reads: “PC, Thys House was built in the yere of owre Lord MCMXXVII.”
Beyond the stair hall is an octagonal breakfast room in the base of the tower. It has two built-in wood cabinets with elaborately carved doors, and a stone floor.
Beside it is the dining room, with oak paneling, window seats, exposed, carved ceiling beams and a handsome fireplace with foliate carving, engaged colonettes, and stone Tudor-arched firebox.
A hallway or “cloister” runs south along the front of the house. It features paired casement windows and oak paneled walls. The arched ceiling is covered with molded plaster ornamentation in the Elizabethan style.
Double doors open to the richly ornamented living room, which is 33 feet long. Focal point of the room is a stone mantelpiece surmounted by molded plaster ornament. The room features oak paneling, exposed ceiling beams, artistic metal wall sconces, and an arched alcove with stone voussoirs.
At the end of the hall is the library, with oak-paneled walls, bookcases, stone fireplace, and arched casements with window seats. Windows on both sides fill the room with light.
Upstairs, the master bedroom features a prominent fireplace and oak paneling with linen-fold detailing. Behind the paneling were concealed cabinets, three for guns and one for books. There is a walk-in closet with built-in chest of drawers and a bathroom with black and gold tile.
Mrs. Crosley’s bedroom, by contrast, was designed in a more feminine Louis XV style, accented by a marbleized wood mantelpiece. The bathroom features purple and beige tile.
The servants’ wing contains two bedrooms, a bathroom, a linen closet and the back stairway to the kitchen below.
A stone staircase winds from the stair hall to the basement, which features a wine cellar and Crosley’s trophy room.
About the estate:
The Pinecroft estate originally included 113 acres, with a working farm, eight outbuildings, and a second residence. The property retains 17 acres and five historic structures/outbuildings: the entrance gateway (1928), small garage (1928), potting house/craft cottage (1928), service garage (1929) and Martha Page Crosley Kess House (1937—not part of tour). The house overlooks a five-acre pond, with an open lawn and allee of chestnut trees to the west.
About the restoration:
Because Pinecroft was so well cared for by Mercy Heath, the house needs little restoration. Fluorescent hanging light fixtures, installed when the house was converted to offices, have been removed, to be replaced with period chandeliers. The carpeting has been taken up, revealing beautiful teak floors, which were cleaned, waxed and polished. Furniture and rugs are being added for period ambience and for use by guests.
About Powel Crosley:
“Crosley lived in the house from its completion in 1928 to his death in 1961. He was one of Cincinnati’s most dynamic entrepreneurs and most colorful personalities. He and his brother Lewis were responsible for many ‘firsts’ in consumer products and broadcasting. Crosley’s manufacturing empire produced automobiles, radios and refrigerators, and his other ventures included developing WLW radio, the most powerful station in the U.S.… He was the owner of the Cincinnati Reds major league baseball team for many years.”