No River, No Valley, But Great Old Homes

River Avon, Salisbury England
River Avon, Salisbury England

North Avondale is one of the most architecturally distinguished of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, with historic homes dating mostly from the 1890s to 1930s. Some of these homes are the finest examples of residential Queen Anne Victorian, Italian Renaissance, English Medieval (love those Tudors!), and Greek Revival architecture that the city has to offer.

Adam's beautifully restored 1896 Queen Anne
Adam’s beautifully restored 1896 Queen Anne

North Avondale traces its origins back to the mid 1800s when large tracts of land surrounding the city of Cincinnati were being subdivided. The wealthiest families began building large residences on spacious lots–the city’s first suburbs.

Centrally-located North Avondale
Centrally-located North Avondale

With a growing population and demand for society’s amenities (think fire, police, sewer), North Avondale–then the Village of Avondale– was eventually annexed by Cincinnati in 1896.  Some of the revered businessmen that built homes along North Avondale’s idyllic, winding streets were:

Andrew Erkenbrecher, the founder of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens; Robert Mitchell, furniture magnate; Samuel Pogue, of Pogue’s department store fame; Frank Herschede, of the Herschede Hall Clock Company; and Barney Kroger, only the founder of the country’s largest supermarket chain.

Robert Mitchell house by Samuel Hannaford
Robert Mitchell house by Samuel Hannaford
The Herschede family mansion
The Herschede family mansion

Avon is the Celtic word for river, and dale, as we know, is another word for valley. But there is no river in North Avondale and this particular neighborhood sits high up in contrast to downtown Cincinnati, which was known historically as the Basin and prone to flooding and standing water. However, considering North Avondale has been described as “a beautiful piece of heaven in the middle of the city“, I think we can overlook this bit of etymology. After all, the River Avon in the United Kingdom, by a similar definition, is a stutter then, isn’t it?