Herschede: Early 20th Century Elegance At Its Finest

The Herschede Mansion located at 3886 Reading Road, Cincinnati

Frank Herschede started selling hall clocks in 1885

Built in 1908, the Herschede Mansion sits along Reading Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares of the historic neighborhood of North Avondale in Cincinnati. The neighborhood is known for its grassy, winding streets and stately, old single-family homes. It 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.

North Avondale is one of the most architecturally distinguished of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, offering the finest examples of residential Queen Anne Victorian, Italian Renaissance, English Medieval, and Greek Revival architecture that the city has to offer. Without a doubt, the Herschede Mansion is counted among them.


The Herschede Mansion was designed by Cincinnati Architect Samuel S. Godley for Frank and Sarah Herschede–of the Herschede Hall Clock Company–and constructed of the finest materials found locally and from around the world.

Stylistically, it is a unique mixture of Greek Revival and Italian Renaissance Revival, with a heavier emphasis on the later. The exterior walls consist of three-coursed brick clad with a five-to-six-inch, hand-carved and sculptured sandstone facade. Typical of Italian Renaissance, its formal design is distinguished by a rusticated or textured ground level and quoining at the corners. Other distinguishing features include a stone division of floors by elaborate string courses, also defining the sills of windows, and windows of a different type on each floor. Most buildings of this style have balanced, low-pitched roofs, often of tile for a Mediterranean look. The home’s square-head windows are more Greek Revival in effect, not having the round arch common to Italian Renaissance. The two polished granite ionic columns that flank the home’s main entrance are also a nice Greek Revival touch.


After passing through the marble-lined foyer, the interior woodwork is imported mahogany and features magnificent crown moldings, pilasters, and fireplaces with yellow sienna marble inserts in the living room and black onyx in the dining room. Craftsmen from the Herschede factory hand carved all the living room and dining room woodwork with meticulous attention to historic replication.

On the 1st floor, the grand entrance hall leads to a double-winged staircase with emerald green, leaded stained glass windows on the landing. Mahogany pocket doors separate all the rooms. There is a music room with hand-painted murals, while the dining room features hand-tooled leather panels depicting a “Horn of Plenty” motif. The dining room and living room ceilings are ornamented with massive gold leafed plaster moldings. A glass-enclosed side room, dinette/butler’s kitchen, period kitchen, back staircase, two baths, and side entrance hall complete the first floor.


On the 2nd floor are four bedrooms, a sitting room, full bath, and center hall. French doors in the front bedrooms lead to outside balconies. The 3rd floor has three bedrooms, a full bath, and features a Ballroom, which extends the full length of the house and has a barrel ceiling.

The detached five-car garage also contains the former chauffeurs’ quarters….Herschede, simply put, is pure elegance.

(Original post dated 7-23-2013 revised)