Riverside: A Glimpse in the Life

Riverside was annexed to the City of Cincinnati in 1893.
Riverside, encompassing a nice stretch of land along the Ohio River, was annexed to the City of Cincinnati in 1893.

Riverside is among the oldest of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods and less than 10 minutes from downtown (yeah, we timed it!).

The impressive historic home at 3586 River Road.
The impressive historic home at 3586 River Road.

Going back to the mid-1800s, Riverside was a very wealthy area–it was actually a rather nice locale if you wanted a sizable estate and perhaps had interest in wine-making in particular…Homes in Riverside were built to impress and were definitely designed to both see and be seen by those using the Ohio River, one of Nature’s great highways. Our listing at 3586 River Road is one of these historic gems. Built by Matthew McWilliams, it consists of a Greek Revival addition built in 1840 that was added to an existing stone house (circa 1810). The stone house is now preserved as the home’s kitchen.

Mrs. McWilliams, one of the home's first owners.
Mrs. McWilliams, one of the home’s first owners.

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The entry hall of 3586 River Road.
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A beautiful afternoon view from 3586 River Road.
McWilliams’ home is an exquisite mixture of modern amenities and masterful restoration. Sitting on 1.51 acres, its front porch provides commanding views of the Ohio River and the Kentucky Hills. But just what were things like back in the early 1840s, during the heyday of the Steamboat Era? Well, for one, the population of Cincinnati rang in at around 50,000 people (versus today’s population of nearly 300,000, which doesn’t even include our suburban sprawl…).

Kitchen sits in original part of house from 1810. Things to note here are the sink, an artifact from a historic school building, and the soapstone countertops.
The kitchen at 3586 River Road sits in original part of house from 1810.

And, in 1841, Cincinnati featured eight banks, 23 lumber yards (the word on the street was that building with brick was the wave of the future though), a mostly operating Miami Canal, turnpike improvements galore, and around 35 miles of finished Little Miami Railroad (there were a bunch of other railroads around too).

Little Miami Railroad, Pendleton, Ohio, 1854
Little Miami Railroad, Pendleton, Ohio, 1854

Cincinnati also boasted one German and Six English daily newspapers, 46 churches, a wide range of educational institutions–including what is now the University of Cincinnati, which had been around for over 20 years already–and probably the best fire and water service in the country (Cincinnati is home to the oldest professional fire department in the country, founded in 1853, so you know that there had to have been a stepping up in service prior to that date!).

A steamboat coming around the bend!
A steamboat coming around the bend!

 

The formal dining room with historic fireplace at 3586 River Road.
The formal dining room with historic fireplace at 3586 River Road.

All in all, it sounds like 1840s Cincinnati had it going on. So much so that, in 1841, Charles Cist (author and publisher) predicted that 150 years later, Cincinnati would be the greatest city in the world!

 

Sources:

1881. Ford, Henry A., and Kate B. Ford. History of Cincinnati, Ohio. L.A. Williams and Co., Publishers.