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Rossville Historic District

Rossville Historic District, Hamilton, covers most of the area west from South B Street to South E, and south from Ross Avenue to Millikin Street and Amberly Drive, including C and D streets, and Franklin, Arch, Hueston and Home streets. Most of the area was once in the town of Rossville. The area gained recognition as a historic district in 1975. Placement of the neighborhood on the National Register was supported by Hamilton City Council and the Hamilton Planning Commission. The National Register of Historic Places inventory and nomination form was completed by the city in April 1975. It was filed with the National Park service, which maintains the registry. Official announcement of acceptance of the Rossville Historic District came in October in a letter to Mayor Frank Witt from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

Area residents formally accepted the designation in a program Nov. 22, 1975. Talk of a Rossville historic area started in the early 1970s. In 1972, the city created a Historic Resource Task Force to evaluate Hamilton's historical assets. That led to the recognition of three historic neighborhoods -- German Village, Rossville and Dayton Lane. Among those promoting Rossville for historic designation was a group of about 40 to 50 residents of the neighborhood. From its meetings in 1974 emerged the Rossville Historic Preservation Association. The association was incorporated in September 1976 by Jeanne P. Fisher, George Turnbull, Herb Webb, Kenneth T. Reed and Paul Thoms. Mrs. Fisher also spoke for the group before city organizations in the formative years. he web site of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) of the Ohio Historical Society says the "Rossville Historic District is significant because it contains good examples of 19th and early 20th Century residences, several large landmark structures, and still retains a quiet residential character. The residences range in style from Federal to early 20th Century revival styles. The large landmark structures include the Railroad Arches and trestle, the Sohngen Malthouse and brewery, the Miami School, the [Butler County] Children's Home, and the [former] First United Church of Christ. The OHPO said "despite the early platting date [1804], the earliest unaltered structure dates from 1832. The house at 312 Ross Avenue may have been built as early as 1821, but was rebuilt at least twice during the 19th century. The house at 228 Ross Avenue was built by Alanson Stibbens, a carpenter, in 1832. Shortly after this, in 1835, William Weidner built a log house on South C Street now covered with asphalt shingles. The Stibbens House is representative of the many Federal style residences built in the district between 1832 and 1849. These early residences were built by tradesmen, and their modesty and simplicity reflect the owners economic and social status. There were more residences constructed in the district during this period than any subsequent decade. Many of these houses remain relatively unaltered. "Some of these residences were built by men who became important locally. The house at 223 Ross Avenue was built by Matthew Hueston (1771-1847) in 1841." (See Hueston House and Hueston Woods State Park for more information on Matthew Hueston.) "Between 1850 and 1880, 17 residences were constructed in the district. Many of the people who came to the area during this period were German immigrants. One of these immigrants was Louis Sohngen (1824-1893). He was born in Frankfort, Germany, came to New York and then Cincinnati, where he worked as a furniture maker. About 1850 he moved to Hamilton and first began cabinet making. By 1852 he had begun a grocery business, dealing extensively in grains." The OHPO web site says "he subsequently became involved in malting. In 1856 he bought the land on the west side of South C Street between Franklin and Millikin. He built his first malthouse (see Sohngen Malthouse) at the [southwest] corner of C Street and Franklin and a brewery (see Mason Brewery) at the [northwest] corner of C Street and Millikin in 1859. A new section was added to the malthouse in 1866. The business continued to grow and the older section was replaced in 1872 to give the malthouse a 200,000 bushel capacity. He built his home on the northeast corner of D Street and Franklin. When Sohngen retired in 1878, he 0 turned the business over to his sons, Charles and George. Charles built a home on the northwest corner of C Street and Ross Avenue in 1895. George built his home on the northeast corner of D Street and Ross Avenue in 1901. Four other Rossville residences were built by members of this family." "Another German immigrant," the OHPO reports, "was Philip Hartman (1827-ca.1895) who was born in Gilversam, Bavaria, and came to Hamilton in 1848. He learned the machinist trade as a turner and became a journeyman for Owens, Ebert & Dyer, a Hamilton firm. He eventually purchased the stove business of this firm in 1885. He built his home on the southeast corner of D Street and Franklin in 1870. "The [former] First United Church of Christ is a landmark building on the southeast corner of D Street and Ross Avenue. The church was organized by the Rev. George Mechling after 1857 as the First Reformed Church in Hamilton. Mechling (1829-1913) was born near Glenford, Ohio; educated at Heidelberg University, Tiffin, Ohio; and began to serve several churches in the Hamilton area in 1857. His residence at 318 South D Street and the church were built about the same time, in 1869. "The Railroad Arches and trestle (see separate entry for details) are probably the most prominent of the landmark structures." (See separate entry for the Arches.) "The stone arches were considered so beautiful that several men built stone houses in the area. One of these buildings, the . . .Children's Home, was originally the home of E.G. Dyer who purchased the land about 1858. (see separate entry for Butler County Children's Home.) The house was built about this time also. Dyer was a member of the firm of Owens, Lane & Dyer, which built the iron and stone cells in the Butler County Jail in 1846. They also made the iron work for the McGuire, Kline and Ervine Paper Mill and the Beckett and Bidgon Mill. They introduced the threshing machine and separator with horsepower for threshing and cleaning grain in one operation to the Southern states. They first manufactured the wood steam engine and thresher for practical use about 1856. In September 1875 the Children's Home opened after the property was purchased by the Children's Home Association with generous contributions by E.G. Dyer and Clark Lane. Another landmark structure, according to the OHPO, is "the Murstein Senior Citizen Center, [that] was formerly known as the old Miami School then the Adams Elementary School. It was built in 1901." William Murstein (1897-1967), owned and directed Wilmurs, a department store on the northeast corner of High Street and North Second Street from 1935 to 1967. He also was one of Hamilton's leading philanthropists. Through the Hamilton Community Foundation, Murstein donated $15,000 to buy the former Adams School from the Hamilton Board of Education in 1957. He also gave generously to the $40,000 fund to refurbish the building on the northeast corner of Ross Avenue and South C Street. He died June 6, 1967. Senior Citizens Inc. had been founded in 1954 The OHPO says "many of the later homes in the district were architect designed. The houses at 401 and 405 South D Street were designed by Frederick G. Mueller (born 1873). He studied at the Armour Institute, Chicago, Ill. In addition to these houses, he designed other landmark structures in Hamilton including the YMCA, Masonic Temple, Elks Temple and a residence at 520 South D Street."

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