Dave Duricy

Prominent People

Hamilton’s movers and shakers have called Highland Park home ever since the neighborhood took root. During the city’s most vibrant decades, our influential residents, both great and small, shaped every aspect of Hamilton life. This list, which is not complete, introduces a handful of the politicians, entrepreneurs, and professional men whose presence and civic contributions gave Highland Park its luster as the Hamilton neighborhood of choice.

Behind these men stood an army of wives and family members who ran the machinery of Hamilton society. Using the powerful hospitality of their Highland Park homes, these families guided the city in which they lived. Hamilton would not have been the industrial powerhouse it was without the connections made at the card parties, luncheons and evening soirees that passed skillfully through the living rooms and dining rooms of Highland Park homes.


The Paul A. Baden residence.

Paul A. Baden, 668 Emerson Avenue. Butler County Prosecutor from 1932 to 1948, during which time Baden oversaw 116 cases that went to jury, 93 of which won guilty verdicts. Named a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Frank Barker residence.

Frank Barker, 440 Marcia Avenue. Manager then owner of the Carr Milling Company, organizer Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, director Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, treasurer Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

Minor M. Beckett, 407 Dick Avenue. President Beckett Paper Company, member Hamilton City Council, director Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Beckett died at age 32 following a fall from a window at his residence in 1928.

The Charles R. Bumenthal residence.

Charles R. Blumenthal, 619 Dick Avenue. Co-founder and president of the Liberty Sheet Metal Company, honorary president of Temple Bene Israel, president of the Jewish Welfare Federation, chairman of Bonds for Israel, recipient of the Salvation Army “I Care” award for lengthy service to the Christmas in Every Home campaigns.

Dr. Garret J. Boone, 915 Alberton Avenue. Physician and Surgeon. Butler County Coroner for 35 years. Nationally known forensic expert. Boone met his wife, Carolyn, while teaching chemistry at Christ Hospital.

The Judge Burns residence.

Michael O. Burns, 917 Virginia Avenue. Butler County Common Pleas Judge 1937, Butler County Prosecutor, Hamilton City Solicitor, elected in 1926 national president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Hosmer R. Grosvenor, 438 Marcia Avenue, 508 Marcia Avenue, 650 Marcia Avenue. City editor Hamilton Evening Journal News, later vice president and general manager of the Journal Publishing Company. Mr. Grosvenor served 50 years with the Journal News.

Homer J. Iske, 410 Haven Avenue. Co-founder MacGregor Ice Cream Company.

Elmer C. Kraus, 610 Emerson Avenue. Secretary Butler Building and Loan, treasurer and part owner of Horn and Kraus Lumber Company. Highland Park croquet champion 1932, elected president of the Miami University Alumni Association in 1927.

The Joseph Lowenstein residence.

The Lowentsein Family, 1300 (David Silver) and 1303 (Joseph Lowenstein) Cereal Avenue. Civic leaders and owners of the Lowenstein Furniture Company, the largest furniture store in Hamilton. The six story Lowenstein Building, standing on the northwest corner of Ludlow and South Third Street in downtown Hamilton, was designed by Hamilton architect Frederick Mueller and is now home to Community First Solutions.

Dr. George E. Marr, 790 Dick Avenue. Chief Surgical Resident and First Assistant to the Surgical Staff of the Mayo Clinic. First person born at Mercy Hospital to serve as Chief of Staff at Mercy. Chief of Staff Fort Hamilton Hospital.

Robert W. Mense, 554 Dick Avenue. Treasurer, later president, Mense Brothers Incorporated (real estate and district managers Aetna Insurance).

The Louis M. Piker residence.

Louis M. Piker, 835 Virginia Avenue. President and treasurer of the Hamilton Metal Products Company, which produced the famous, tartan Skotch Cooler beginning in 1951.

Walter A. Rentschler, 685 Marcia Avenue, 716 Gray Avenue. Vice president and secretary of the General Machinery Corporation (later Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton), secretary and treasurer the G. A. Rentschler Company (Hamilton Foundry), Vice President The Hooven, Ownens, Rentshcler Company (later Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton) and The Putnam Machine Company. President (1958) the Citizens Savings Bank, later (1967) chairman of the board. Board member the Miami Conservancy District, president of the Conservancy from 1968 to 1975. Primary land donor Butler County Park District Rentschler Forest Preserve.

George Sauer, 950 Haldimand Avenue. Proprietor, the Hamilton Brokerage Company, 227 Court Street.

Frederick W. Schlicter, 449 Dick Avenue (c. 1930). Mechanical engineer, superintendent, secretary and later president of the Hamilton Tool Company. Inventor of the gentle, variable speed Hamilton Varimatic Drilling Machine. President Brotherhood of St. Paul Evangelical Reformed Church, past president Hamilton Council of Churches, board member of Fort Hamilton Hospital and director of the hospital expansion committee, past president Ohio Polled Hereford Association.

The Robert M. Sohngen residence.

Robert M. Sohngen, 303 Dick Avenue. Ohio Supreme Court justice 1947 to 1948, director Ohio Department of Liquor Control 1945 to 1946, state counsel for the Home Owners Loan Corporation 1933 to 1945, Hamilton city solicitor 1922 to 1923, chairman Butler County Democratic executive committee.

The Samuel Spoerl Residence.

Samuel F. Spoerl, 550 Dick Avenue. Secretary, later president, Spoerl Hardware, 164 High Street.

John L. Stanfill, 436 Dick Avenue. Owner, the Cincinnati-Hamilton Bus Company.

The Harry Turberg residence.

Harry Turberg, 606 Marcia Avenue. Treasurer, co-founder of the Palace Theater, 213 South Third Street.

A Crime in Highland Park

The scene of the crime, the intersection of Cereal and Haven Avenues.
Photo: Dave Duricy.

The early days of Highland Park weren’t all luncheons and croquet tournaments. Highland Park lay on the outskirts of Hamilton. The empty lots and open homes attracted crime. The typical crimes were minor, like a stranger trespassing through a front door and out the back. Occasionally, a less forgivable crime occurred.

Miss Dorothy Sullivan was a respectable young woman. She moved to Hamilton in 1923 with her parents, John and Mary. The family came from Pittsburgh, where Mr. Sullivan had been a successful insurance solicitor. Dorothy and her parents took up residence in a house on the 600 block of Haven Avenue.

The Sullivans came to Hamilton probably to be near Dorothy’s sister, Grace. Grace had married John Schwalm, a go-getter in local entertainment. Schwalm co-owned the Jewel Photoplay on the southeast corner South Second and Court Streets. Schwalm’s Jewel was “Hamilton’s prettiest, costliest, and best moving picture theater.” It showed no “sensational or melodramatic pictures.”

Dorothy Sullivan played the musical accompaniment for “The Witching Hour”, a film about a brutal attack, hours before a mysterious thug assaulted her in Highland Park. Source: IMDB.com.

Dorothy happened to be an organist, which was useful for her brother-in-law in the silent picture business. On October 22, 1924, she substituted for the regular organ player at the Jewel. The films showing that day were the comedy short “Pop Tuttle’s Long Shot” with Dan Mason and “The Witching Hour”, staring Elliot Dexter. After work that night, Dorothy walked home alone. Shortly after 10:00 PM, near the corner of Cereal and Haven Avenues, Dorothy noticed someone following her. She turned. The man she saw frightened her. She quickened her pace northward on Haven.

Just two doors away from Dorothy’s house, the man hit her in the back of the head. Dorothy reeled round, faced her attacker, and he struck again. He hit her in the mouth and broke several teeth. Miss Sullivan cried out for help.

In 1924, 659 Haven Avenue was the residence of Mr. Thomas G. Zoller who, along with neighbor Frank Weissman, rushed to the aid of Miss Sullivan. Photo: Dave Duricy.

Mr. Thomas G. Zoller, 659 Haven Avenue, and Mr. Frank Weissman, 643 Haven Avenue, heard the screams. The two men ran down the street. The attacker fled in the opposite direction toward a house still under construction. The two neighbors carried Miss Sullivan, semi-conscious, home.

Police were called. Alarm and anger spread quickly through Highland Park. Residents grabbed guns and took to their cars to search for the fiend in the lots and fields surrounding the neighborhood. Patrolmen questioned multiple suspects, but the criminal got away.

Dorothy Sullivan was taken to Dr. Frank Zerfass, 135 North Third Street. She required stitches for the injury to her scalp. Dr. Zerfass also treated a cut to her nose and bruises to her hands.

The Hamilton Evening News shouted the story, an assault in Highland Park.

Miss Sullivan described her attacker as a white man about 5 feet 7 inches tall wearing a gray cap and coat. Theories for his motive vary. The attack may have been a purse snatching gone wrong. Miss Sullivan was carrying cash and important papers. However, neighbors told police that an unknown man and girl had been meeting at night in one of the nearby vacant houses. Detectives suspected that the attack may have been a case of mistaken identity relating to the strange rendezvous.

The severity of the assault was such that Miss Sullivan remained confined to her house the following day due to shock and nervousness.

Detectives Herman Dulle and Albert Mueller found a potential clue in the case, a Ford touring car abandoned on the Belt Line Railroad. The owner of the Ford could not be determined, and Miss Sullivan’s attacker remained at large.

Dorothy Sullivan recovered from her injuries. She subsequently married a printer and lived in Dayton.

Highland Park Yard Sale

The Highland Park Yard Sale happens on the last Saturday in June, rain or shine. For 2019, the date is June 29th with hours from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Organizer is Scott Reynolds, 435 Marcia Avenue. If you attend the sale, please be mindful of parking clear of driveways and sidewalks. Enjoy your visit to our neighborhood!

Concerts in the Park

A Hamilton Symphony performance in Virginia Park circa 1975. Photo by Carol Duricy.
A cello case leaning against a Hamilton Foundry truck during a Hamilton Symphony concert in Virginia Park circa 1975. Photo by Carol Duricy.

Not so long ago, the Hamilton Symphony would play concerts in Virginia Park. The concerts usually happened on summer evenings. Families walked down to the park. They’d lay out a blanket on the mowed grass, or unfold their lawn chairs, then wait for the music to begin. The people who lived on Virginia and Marcia Avenues had it best; they could sit in comfort on their porches.

I remember my parents and I taking our dogs, Max and Sophie. Other people also brought their dogs, and there would be barking and other doggy antics. Neighborhood kids rode their Schwinns around the park. Adults talked in friendly little groups. Then the orchestra, with every musician dressed in black, would tune up the instruments. The crowd hushed. The conductor raised his baton, and music we all loved rang out across the neighborhood.

Dan Duricy (crew cut) with Max, Sophie, me and (I think) Tim Scott. Photo by Carol Duricy.

I looked forward to these concerts. They seemed to be something that Highland Park had always done, and always would do. In truth, the concerts began in 1974, three years after my family moved into Highland Park.

Roger Meissner, Hamilton Symphony President. Photo: Hamilton Journal News, September 17, 1973.

According to the Journal News, the concerts came about after Dick Haid and Roger Meissner, the Hamilton Symphony president, were chatting on Haid’s porch at 929 Virginia Avenue, which faces Virginia Park. Meissner lived just around the corner at 826 Park. Meissner asked, “Why don’t we have the symphony in the park?” Haid replied, “Why don’t we?”

Dick Haid led the effort to raise money to cover the cost. Neighbors donated in advance, and donations were accepted on the day of the concert.

The Hamilton Symphony, circa 1975. Photo by Carol Duricy.

On Sunday, September 8, 1974, the first concert in Virginia Park took place. Approximately 1,100 people attended. The performance went on for 1 hour and 45 minutes. A Highland Park tradition was born.

Sadly, the concert series seemed to die out in the 2000s. It’s a shame. The concerts in the park were the perfect complement to the Home Beautiful way of life in Highland Park. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for those childhood evenings filled with music, but I wonder. Could the concerts ever return?

The Journal News generously covered the first concert in Virginia Park in the September 9, 1974 issue. Although the pictures are blurry, you can see the big 1,100 strong crowd.

Your Downtown Dodge Dealer

935 Virginia, built for Mr. and Mrs. Gene Welborn.

The residents of Highland Park have played a leading role in downtown business ever since the neighborhood began. Take, for example Mr. Gene H. Welborn. He and his wife Edith Valeta lived at 935 Virginia Avenue, a pretty, brick Colonial with a stylish porte-cochère on the southeast side. They built the house in April of 1926.

An early ad for Welborn's Dodge dealer from July 1922 in The Hamilton Evening Journal.
An early ad for Welborn’s Dodge dealer from July 1922 in The Hamilton Evening Journal.

Mr. Welborn owned the local Dodge dealership. That explains his car port at home. He started selling Dodges and Graham trucks in 1922 at 14-16-18 Main Street, which stood on a block of Main that is now gone. Welborn’s Main Street address happened to be the location of the last hitching post left in Hamilton. The post stood in the way of drivers opening their car doors, so away went the post much to the consternation of the Hamilton Daily News.

935 Virginia is a luxurious, but sensible house, not unlike the Dodge cars Welborn sold. The first floor rooms are thoroughly trimmed in gum wood. A carved stone fireplace mantel perfectly matches the large and gracious living room. The house, of course, has a sun room, but with the added feature of its own fireplace. Behind the house is an enviable two-car, brick garage.

Welborn picked a lucky time to be a Dodge dealer. In 1928, Chrysler Corporation bought the Dodge Brothers Company. Under Chrysler care, Dodge prospered while other pioneer cars failed during the Great Depression. Dodge dealers also started to sell Chrysler’s popular, low-price Plymouths. In 1930, only three months after the stock market crash, Welborn expanded and moved his dealership to downtown proper at 321 Market Street.

In 1938, Gene Welborn died of a heart attack on the showroom floor of his dealership. He is buried at Rose Hill Memorial Park.

What happened to the Dodge dealership after that isn’t clear. The building on Market Street is gone. However, Welborn’s handsome house in Highland Park is still here. Stroll by sometime and imagine Mr. Welborn in a posh 1931 Dodge Eight pulling through his porte-cochère after a busy day of selling cars in downtown Hamilton.

The 1931 Dodge Eight bristled with innovations, including Chrysler Corporation's new "Floating Power" engine suspension system that prevented engine vibration from spoiling the ride.
The 1931 Dodge Eight bristled with innovations, including Chrysler Corporation’s new “Floating Power” engine suspension system that prevented engine vibration from spoiling the ride.