Receiving that message in a note from the Cincinnati Woman’s Club was wonderful. It always feels good to know audience members thoroughly enjoyed the information and that it brought back fond memories for them, and it’s always fun to see people I know in the audience – that happened again when some old-time neighbors and friends came up to speak with me after the talk. Of course, I was also very pleased at how many of the ladies bought copies of my books – both Lost Tea Rooms of Downtown Cincinnati and Virginia Bakery Remembered!
While speaking with Marty Humes, President of the organization from 2004 to 2006, I learned an interesting connection between my topic – which includes McAlpin’s department store – and the history of the Cincinnati Woman’s Club building. I asked her to send me more details which she kindly did.
Plans for Interstate 71 and the route it would take necessitated the move for The Cincinnati Woman’s Club from its beautiful home at 643 Oak Street in Walnut Hills where it had opened on February 7, 1910. The notice was given in May of 1963 and the Club immediately began to search for a new site.
When The Cincinnati Woman’s Club built the Clubhouse at 330 Lafayette Avenue in 1965, there were two homes on the purchased property that were torn down to accommodate the Club.
An account of this property acquisition in our Woman’s Club Centennial Review published for the 1994 Centennial Celebration of the Woman’s Club states that…
“The Site Committee considered downtown buildings, the suburbs, and even thought about moving the Oak Street Clubhouse itself to a new location. The most suitable site found was in Clifton on Lafayette Avenue. Here along a street of many nineteenth century homes, which the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1949 had called “the most unchanged street in the city,” were adjoining available properties with acreage and an impressive view of hills and valleys.
… The remaining two mansions, both for sale, interested The Site Committee.
The two properties were of historic interest. The westerly piece was owned by Robert Dreidame. Built in 1855 by H.W. Derby, it had been owned by Griffin Taylor, president of the Lafayette Bank that had developed Lafayette Avenue. George Crabbs, Union Terminal visionary, moved there in early 1900s. The Dreidame family purchased the fourteen-room Victorian house and modernized it inside and out in 1950….
The Club also had an option to purchase the Oscar Schroeder piece next door and completed that purchase May 3, 1965. This three-story brick Queen Anne house was built in the 1880s by George McAlpin, department store owner. Called “Sunflower Place,” it featured a sunflower motif on its stonework….
City Council approved the zoning change in the spring of 1964. The two houses and their carriage houses were demolished, paving the way for new construction….Some elements from the McAlpin house were also rescued and stored for use in the new building.”
The ribbon-cutting and first General Meeting in this beautiful Clubhouse building at 330 Lafayette Avenue occurred March 6, 1967.
Mrs. Louis Nippert was the President that led the effort to purchase and build the Clubhouse. Quite a few of the stained glass windows that adorned the two original homes were subsequently stored in the “barn” on her Indian Hill property. These treasures were kept rather than sold and ended up being stored there for many years. When I became the CWC President in 2004, I was told of these windows and asked that they be retrieved, refurbished and displayed in the Clubhouse.
There were several damaged and unusable windows, but we were able to restore and hang the windows that are displayed in the Tea Room, the Library and Hampton Court.
It was one of the delightful tasks of my Presidency and I am pleased that past, current and future members are able to enjoy these beautiful and historic elements of the past.
Thanks again to the Cincinnati Woman’s Club for inviting me – the group was a lovely audience and I really enjoyed my time there. Thanks to Susan Deye for taking photos of the event.