There are many reasons why people choose to live in an historic home. For some, it is because the home reminds them that they are part of something bigger—the long continuum of history. These folks usually consider themselves to be stewards, not owners, and their calling is to keep the home in good shape for the next generation. As stewards, they put their heart and soul into the home—maintaining, preserving, restoring… And so, as the saying goes, the more you give to something, the more you fall in love with it.
For some homes, the condition is so poor and decades-long “remuddling” so extensive, that complete renovation is needed. But complete renovation does not cut the ties to history. The connection remains—a new chapter simply begins.
We have the privilege of sharing the renovation story of 2136 St James Avenue located in Cincinnati’s historic neighborhood of Walnut Hills and at the steps of Eden Park. This 1880s townhome, once divided into several apartments, is now a single family dwelling. Old meets new, and this home is in need of its next steward.
Twenty One Thirty Six Saint James Avenue, A Love Story
By P. & S. – Stewards, Owners, and Revivalists, 2136 St James Avenue
We have been fortunate to live alongside Eden Park for quite some time. We are continually awed, humbled and inspired by the landmark architecture and ever changing picturesque scenery contained within this beautiful, iconic place.
The river; the miles of distant hills extending along the Kentucky side of the stream; the less remote high lands of Ohio, rolling away in multitu-dinous waves of improved lands; the suburbs of the city to the north and east, and the city at the foot of the hill, teeming with its busy thousands, make up a prospect so rare that it may be said the park, for location, hardly has its peer. The avenues meander by graceful curves through the grounds, at every turn shutting out something the visitor has just seen, but revealing another landscape filled with new beauties.
Only Manhattan’s Central Park preceded Eden Park in embodying the concept of a “People’s Park”—a haven of natural beauty and serenity within the bustling confines of a city.
-Eden Park, described so glowingly in 1870 in the article “A Glance at the Garden of Eden”.
It’s no longer 1870, but the sentiments expressed remain echoed by those of us fortunate enough to call this park home. Nicholas Longworth believed in the late 1800s, that the hills his vineyards were sitting atop would one day be worth a surmountable fortune. He had a vision to give the people of Cincinati the gift of that fortune in perpetuity by stewarding the transition of his vineyards into the 186 acres that is now Eden Park.
Undoubtedly, we were not the first to recognize the value of living here. Nicholas Longworth rightly foresaw that his land could become a lasting legacy to the city. We now are stewards of this “paradise” who occupy the stately, historic homes flanking Mr. Longworth’s Garden Of Eden. Breathing new life into the aging bones of these glorious homes will ensure the next 100 years of enjoyment and preservation for future generations. That is what we are striving for.
We choose to live in an old home for many reasons which really all come back to the same basic ideal; old homes are living history. History deserves reverence. We once read “the greenest house is the one which is already built.” That really resonated with us, providing a compass to guide our decisions. In our fast paced, throw- away society, building things cheap and quick is an accepted practice; one that is easy to succumb to when faced with property maintenance costs. We were determined we could do better. What we created instead is a completely new home within an existing shell. We wanted a home that is reasonable, functional yet beautiful and looks like it still belongs. Being mindful of the details, we are honoring the masons, carpenters, and other tradesmen of the past. We have taken our time, but good things come to those who wait. We are very proud to have revived this property into something worthy to present for you to begin creating your own love story.