Hard sale: Beer baron's $1M hom

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Hard sale: Beer baron's $1M home

By David Holthaus • dholthaus@enquirer.com • November 13, 2009

SHARONVILLE - Once the summer home of a rich Cincinnati beer baron, the Hauck
mansion in Sharonville has been threatened by theft and vandalism, auctioned at
a sheriff's sale and nearly swallowed by the surrounding industrial development
of the Interstate 275 community.

Now, a Cincinnati businessman who made his money selling prefabricated office
buildings has invested hundreds of thousands into restoring the polar opposite
of a prefab: an architecturally designed, 18-room, brick, Neoclassical Revival
mansion once owned by one of Cincinnati's most prominent blueblood families.

The home, listed by Sibcy Cline for $1.1 million, is an example of the
difficulties not only of selling a 100-plus-year-old historic property in a
transitional neighborhood, but of marketing a million-dollar home in this

"It's a whole lot for an abandoned old house, but there's a lot of Homearama
houses going for more than that," said Andrew Thul, president of Precision-Built
Corp., which bought the home in 2008.

Sales of homes costing $1 million or more have plummeted along with the economy.
Through Sept. 30, only 43 have sold in Cincinnati and its Ohio suburbs, the
Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors says. That's down 50 percent from the first
nine months of 2007 and 43 percent from the same period in 2008.

At this year's Homearama showcase of new homes, none was listed for more than $1
million - a significant change from 2008, where prices ranged up to $2.9

The Hauck property, which once encompassed 900 acres, is now surrounded by
warehouses, trucking companies, factories and heavily traveled roads, including
Mosteller Road, which it overlooks. That complicates preservation - and its

"Its location in an industrial zone is a challenge," said Bobbie McTurner,
executive director of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

The home is not on the National Register of Historic Places, "but it's certainly
eligible," she said. An application for historic status, which could create tax
benefits, is under way, Thul said.

He plans to market the historic property as offices for lawyers, doctors or an
arts organization. The Art Institute of Cincinnati held a show of student works
there in October, but President Sean Mendell said the organization is not
currently interested in moving.

It's been home to businesses, most notably the Toedtman School of Music, where
John Toedtman taught piano, voice and other disciplines from 1985 to 2005.

Then a mortgage brokerage, Cincy Home Loans, set up shop, with 80 brokers
working there at one time, Thul said. They carved up the basement into cubicles
and installed a false ceiling, which has been removed.

When the property was last on the open market in 2006, potential buyers were
interested in tearing down the building and redeveloping the 3.5-acre site.

A 2008 article about the pending sheriff's sale spurred Thul. He was the only
bidder other than the bank that had repossessed it.

"I couldn't believe we couldn't find some use for it other than to tear it
down," he said.

He paid $601,000 for the house and has since spent $400,000 in restoration and
renovation. More than 1,000 broken or missing slate roof tiles, as well as some
of the original missing or broken stained glass, have been replaced. Elaborate
mosaic tile floors have been cleaned and repaired. New tile has been laid on the
porch, where replicas of the Hauck family crest have been installed into the
railings. The sliding pocket doors inside the house have been restored, with 56
original hard rubber wheels replaced with aluminum ones fashioned by a former
Milacron engineer.

"We're trying to make it last another 100 years," Thul said.

The Hauck name has endured in Cincinnati for well over 100 years.

John Hauck was one of Cincinnati's earliest beer makers, establishing his
brewery on Dayton Street in West End in 1864. It became one of the most
successful of the dozens of breweries in downtown, Over-the-Rhine and West End,
producing 160,000 barrels a year by 1881.

After studying the craft of beer-making in Munich, his son Louis returned to
Cincinnati and expanded the business. Although Prohibition killed the
beer-making business, the family had other interests, including owning a bank
that eventually became part of downtown-based Fifth Third Bancorp.

The family was instrumental in several Cincinnati institutions, starting a
legacy that lasted through the 20th century. John Hauck was a president of the
Cincinnati Reds for a period in the 19th century, and is credited with saving
the Cincinnati Zoological Garden from financial disaster.

Louis was president of Cincinnati Gas & Electric. He was the father of Frederick
Hauck, a businessman and philanthropist known to many modern-day Cincinnatians
through his support of the zoo, the May Festival, University of Cincinnati,
Xavier University and the Cincinnati Historical Society, which houses the Hauck
Rare Book Room.

He died in 1997 at the age of 103.


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