Blue Ash Homes

The following article appeared in the January 21, 1988, edition of the Sycamore Messanger News.  Most of the article, as written:

The façade’s a fooler

Don’t let the ultra-contemporary all-glass facades, the updated deco lines and striking modern structures fool you.

Underneath the contemporary corporate complexion of Blue Ash lurk plentiful examples of historically-significant architecture.

“I’d always heard a lot about the Blue Ash industrial park,” recalls Mary Ann Brown, executive director of the Miami Purchase Association (MPA).  “But I was surprised to find that on all the side streets is a really nice town to live in.”

Brown was guest speaker at the Jan. 12 Blue Ash Historical Society winter meeting and lectured on her finds during the recent county-wide survey of historic architecturally-significant structures.

…Brown said…  “I look at buildings from so many angles.  I look at the people who lived in the area and continue to live in the area, and the buildings become symbols of what’s happened, they become parts of the stories.  I try to see how much history of the community is reflected in the buildings and how clear it is.”

Brown said settlement of the entire state is interesting in that it is not clear cut and straight forward.  “There was no clean sweep of people across the land,” Brown said.  “The land was opened up and sold at different times.”

She added Blue Ash was formerly a part of Sycamore Township and the original Symmes Purchase where “Presbyterians and Baptists were the earliest denominations.”

Surveying a community begins, Brown said, “by looking for particular ethnic building conditions (Indian stations, canal or railroad areas) and at land formations.

“The railroad was probably the major impact on Blue Ash and is the reason the city is here and has grown.”

The search for early remnants led Brown to Carpenter’s Run (Pioneer) Cemetery at the Cooper and Plainfield crossroads.

Cemeteries, Brown said, give surveyors a sense of who the early founding families were, where they were from and how long they stayed.  These findings lead researchers to take an inventory of significant—and currently standing—housing stock in Blue Ash.

Surprisingly enough, that inventory includes:

  • The  early 1820s and 1830s brick Ferris homes on Kenwood Road are excellent examples of the area’s early agricultural architecture.
  • Some  of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the county.
  • Specimens of both Queen and Princess (a scaled-down, less ornate version) Anne      styles.
  • A Hazelwood Gothic Revival barn.
  • A1908-era savings and loan that was formed as a cooperative on Cooper Road.
  • The former Blue Ash Presbyterian Church—now the Baptist Mission Church—completed in  the Spanish-Mission style.
  • Public  buildings like the formerPlainfield School, now theSycamoreSeniorCenter.
  • Several early, pre-bungalow examples along Railroad Avenue, constructed between      1905 and 1925.
  • Several  varieties of “shot-gun” architecture—homes that are one –room wide and two    or three deep.
  • A row  of Tudor-style homes onKenwood  Road.
  • Even an International-in-the-vein-of-Frank-Lloyd-Wright styled home in the Kenridge Lake area designed by architect Richard Neutra.

The difference in the early structures in Blue Ash (Greek Revival) as compared to

those of the same time period on the west side of the county (stone) indicates there was always some wealth in this area, according to Brown.

Not many homes were built in the state before 1820 so the Kenwood Road Ferris family homes are true historical treasures, she said.

Entree of the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railway into the Blue Ash area promoted more wealth and growth.  The city’s examples of Queen Anne homes (the Frank Ferris home onCooper Road, a more modest example onConklin Road and the Princess Anne that’s now the Hairshaft onCooper Road) cropped up during the railroad’s heyday.

Tudor homes built during the 20s and 30s indicate times may not have been so tough during the Depression in the area, Brown suggested.

The area’s first subdivision was platted in 1888.  After WWII, the soon-to-be city (incorporated in 1955) saw some rapid development—both residential and industrial.

Forty-two properties were surveyed in Blue Ash although none of the dwellings are listed on the national Register of Historic Places.   …this survey should “identify the need for the Blue Ash Historical Society to protect buildings at are a part of the long history of the area.”


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