When we began our house search in Cincinnati, we knew cookie cutter, subdivision life was not for us. We’d spent the last five years living in a historic town, continuing renovations on a 1905 Victorian and restoring a barn on the property. If we learned anything in the process (aside from the fact that the only thing that works in an old house is the owner), it is that homes have souls. Aside from the creaky floorboards and wavy-glass windows, an old home has a palpable personality that you cannot deny. We kept a photo of the original residents of our home, the Martin Family, in a place of honor. We felt as if this family had witness the transfer of their beloved home to many hands, into disrepair, into a subdivision into two apartments, and brought back to life as a single family home. As we continued our restoration of the property, much of our work, we felt, was in homage to the home’s early beginnings. Yet so much of home’s story was due to our own detective work, one part history, one part fairy tale, and maybe even one part ghost story.
We knew we had found a neighborhood of kindred spirits the moment we drove into Terrace Park. From Victorians to Sears homes, from tiny bungalows to modern, center hall colonials, Terrace Park has a look and feel all its own. But thanks to the work of some industrious residents, the detective work piecing together family lore and building history has already been done for you. Better yet, it’s all been documented on a community website, tpsurvey.org.
So many homes on the tree-lined streets of Terrace Park nod to both old and new, with elements of both past and present. Have you ever wondered what children played in your backyard before yours did or what families gathered around the dinner table in years past? TPSurvey traces back the history of many neighborhood homes, back to the days before house numbers and zip codes, and in many cases, back to the original property deed.
The scale of this project is immense, not only giving neighborhood maps and photos of homes, but also short anecdotes about the past property owners as well as home renovations. Links also show burial records and anecdotal reports about different Terrace Park, buildings and families, giving inquisitive website visitors greater context about both the places and the people who inhabited them.
The website not only includes details about homes, but anecdotes about the homeowners as well, including any major changes they may have made to the home. When available, pictures of homes throughout the decades are included, giving each website visitor an accurate portrayal how our neighborhood has changed.
This project began in 1995 by the Terrace Park Women’s Club. As Carol Cole remembers, Pat Henley was among the first to have the idea. The Women’s Club took the idea and ran with it, dividing up the neighborhood by streets to capture information about each house, including age it was built, style of home, and any major additions or renovations. As the scale and interest grew, it was transferred to the website that now exists today. Carol and Lee Cole deserves kudos for being the grand marshals of this extensive and time-consuming project that has recorded much of our treasured history. In fact, this website continues to evolve, thanks to Carol, who keeps it updated.
“We started the project at a time when we saw the neighborhood really starting to change,” remembers Carol. We knew that if we did not start to record this history, it would be lost forever.”
In fact, it was this desire to preserve the history of Terrace Park that lead to the formation of the Terrace Park Historical Society. In 2001, Carol and Betsy Holloway led a group of founding members of the Historical Society, including Stan Brown, Julie Northrup, Bill Holloway, Kay Pope, Ken Bassett, Lee Cole and Helen Barnet.
The next time you are strolling through the neighborhood and wonder about whose footsteps you are walking in, we encourage you to pay a visit to TPSurvey.org. And if the information you find there piques your interest, come visit us at the Historical Society. We’d love to share our collection of pictures, articles and neighborhood lore. Our neighborhood is full of history just waiting for you to discover.