Yes, We Can Still Save the Schulte!
By Deqah Hussein-Wetzel, Jefferson Le, and Vanessa Quirk
As a large brick building, with adornments like the Flemish parapet gables that stretch high above the roofline, the Schulte Mansion has long been an architectural gem of West Price Hill. Prominently located atop a hill at the corner of Glenway and Dewey avenues, this nineteenth century mansion was built for H. Joseph Schulte, President of the GB Schulte Sons Co. which commissioned another lost historic Cincinnati treasure, The Dennison Hotel.
In the 1930s, the Schulte Manson became the home of the long-standing Radel Funeral Home. Despite all the development changes Glenway Avenue has experienced, the Schulte Manson has withstood time. You can see this just by looking at its architecture — its original 1892 Queen Anne construction conveys its nineteenth century residential character, and the 1930s Tudor Revival style additions that remind us that commercialization played a huge part in this neighborhood’s story. The fact that it still exists should not be overlooked.
Figure 1: View of primary (south) facade, August 23, 2021.
If you can’t see how distinctive the Schulte Mansion is, especially along Glenway Avenue, then I don’t think we are looking at the same building. Although today it does not look exactly the same as when it was originally constructed, the Tudor Revival style additions also possess historical significance — this includes the primary entrance and Porte-Cochere, both of which feature battlements, which makes the building kind of look like a castle. Both change in use, as well as the stylistic change, are important because they demonstrate how the building adapted to changes over time within its urban setting. Its persistence on the landscape and its architectural uniqueness, are what make this building so valuable to the community.
Figure 2: View of east elevation and southeast corner, August 23, 2021.
Even though the Urban Conservator’s recommendation to the Historic Conservation Board (HCB) concurred with the aforementioned historic assessment, the HCB ultimately voted to not approve Landmarking the building. Most HCB members actually stated this was because they were wary of infringing on the property owners’ rights. The property, still under ownership of the Radel family, is technically for sale, although there is no signage outside indicating such. One potential buyer, the Boys and Girls Club, has become involved in combating the community’s landmarking efforts, creating numerous hurdles on the community’s journey to preserve this building. Like the HCB, the city’s Planning Commission also voted to not approve the Landmark nomination as listing the building would prevent the owner from his right to do what he wants with the building, even if that means it will inevitably be demolished. Other site options are available, the West Price Hill community made sure of that. In collaboration with local groups, they have found alternative locations for the Boys and Girls Club to build and are actively working to collect the resources needed to preserve the Schulte Manson, beyond Landmarking.
So, what about the community — does anyone care about what they want? Today, the physical and social fabric looms differently amongst residents than it did in the past. The vibe on the west side has become to tear down rather than preserve. If you ask almost anyone in West Price Hill if they want this building to be landmarked, they would say yes. It still holds great meaning, as seen with the over 700 signatures in the petition to ‘Save the Schulte’. This relationship with the building didn’t just happen overnight. Laura Hamilton from the council shared the sentiments below in an interview with Mariel Cabron, WCPO, 2021. As the Radel Funeral Home, this place served as a memoriam for families, a place of comfort, and resolution.
“We’ve laughed here, we’ve cried here. People have played in this parking lot as a child and we’re not done with it yet”. — Laura Hamilton, West Price Hill Council
And, what of the future of the Schulte Manson? You may be thinking…can it even be saved at this point? The simple answer is “yes”. Cincinnati’s City Council has the final say — the issue will be brought to the City Council this Winter for one last chance to choose preservation over demolition. This is why we believe that by bringing this to the attention of the public, the community will have a greater chance in convincing the City Council members to vote to approve the Local Landmark nomination. This is why we are asking people like you to help spread the word — that this building deserves to be listed as a Cincinnati Local Landmark — and make sure that Cincinnati’s City Council knows just how important the Schulte Manson is to the West Price Hill community!
SCHULTE MANSION UPDATES ~
*UPDATE: On February 15, 2022 the City Council’s Economic Growth and Zoning Committee voted 3–5 against landmarking the Schulte. Council members on our side were Jan-Michelle Lemon Kearney, Mark Jefferys, and Jeff Cramerding. Those against saving the Schulte were Reggie Harris, Meeka Owens, Liz Keating, Victoria Parks, and Scotty Johnson.
*UPDATE: In late-February 2022, Price Hill Will sought out what it would take to relocate the Schulte — that’s right — moving the building! While these efforts may not be well received by owner (Radel’s) and buyer (Boys & Girls Club), the idea to move the building is really our last option here. Unless some miracle happens and the Boys & Girls club suddenly gets a change of heart. But as an organization that makes multiple millions of dollars yearly, much if it from Federal funds, as a preservationist, I still have some questions about if this undertaking will be in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966’s Section 106 regulations. More updates to come.