UC President's Homes
When the University of Cincinnati was created in 1870, it was as a municipal university, and, it was always considered to be a "university of the city." This philosophy - that the university would draw from the city's rich, vibrant resources of culture and business, and in turn render service to the city through its students and educational programs - meant that the university's leaders would be "of the city" as well.
Jacob Dolson Cox, UC president from 1885 to 1889, epitomized this thinking in how he constantly strived to integrate a more cosmopolitan notion of "town" with "gown." Cox, a lawyer and statesman as well as an educator, maintained his personal residence in the city in the Dayton Street neighborhood of the West End, an area of prominent business and professional men in the community who were very interested in the universityâs affairs. Before the end of his term, in 1888, Cox, like so many other notable community leaders, moved up the hill out of the cityâs basin to a house on Gilman Avenue in Mt. Auburn, close to the University Building on the Clifton Avenue hill above the original Charles McMicken property. A few years later, in 1895, the university would move as well, to its present location.
The early presidents of UC, whether they were considered solely as the head of the university or faculty who for a few years assumed the role of "interim" presidents, bought their own residences, living near the campus in Mt. Auburn or Clifton. A president's home has never been constructed or been created within the physical university itself. Howard Ayers, for instance, who was president from 1899 to 1904, lived on Burnet Avenue, just a few short blocks from campus, and Charles Dabney, president from 1904 to 1920, lived at Evans Place in Clifton, a couple blocks north of Ludlow Avenue. It was under Dabney's tenure as president that UC first realized its potential for research, service, and teaching in an urban environment, an educational philosophy that has re-flowered in the past several years. Under Dabney, too, the university created its landmark contribution to higher education in the creation of the coop program under Engineering Dean Herman Schneider. When Schneider himself became president from 1928 to 1932, he continued the Clifton neighborhood tradition, living on Evanswood Place. His predecessor, Frederick Hicks, was a Cliftonite as well, on Ingleside.
However, Raymond Walters would be the last UC president to have a private residence. Walters, president from 1932 to 1955, first lived on Warren Avenue, and later moved to Interwood Place. As other presidents had done before him, and as was expected, Walters often entertained visiting scholars and speakers in his home, and, frequently put them up for the night as well. Walters' son Philip, often told the story of when he was a boy, going down to the kitchen late one night and finding the writer H.G. Wells in a snit because the only alcohol he could find was a cold bottle of Scotch. Raymond Walters was a teetotaler, and hearing that his guest was fond of his drink, bought one bottle of Scotch and placed it where he thought it was proper, in back of the refrigerator.
After Raymond Walters' retirement, Walter Langsam was hired in 1955 to head the university and it was deemed time for UC to finally provide its president with a home. In March of that year, a resolution was adopted by the board of directors to provide a "building to be known as the President's Residence to be used for University purposes." By that October, Langsam was in a university-owned home at 3650 Clifton Avenue. This house remained the official university residence throughout Langsam's years as president, but when Warren Bennis succeeded him in 1971, the home was not to his liking and he asked the board to find another residence. In response, the board purchased an historic home at 750 Ludlow Avenue, the "Morrison House", for $55,400. Constructed in 1875, the house sat atop a ridge with an excellent view of the Clifton neighborhood, and was large enough to provide living quarters as well as space for official university functions. One of the selling points for the board was that they were preserving an historic landmark in Cincinnati - again, the notion that the university and city interests were tied together. And, no small consideration even at that time, it was felt that guest parking was plentiful, something altogether lacking in the Langsam residence.
Bennis resigned his presidency in 1977, and was succeeded by Henry Winkler. By this time, the community duties of UC's president had only increased, and again a move was necessary for sufficient space to accommodate important gatherings. Early in 1978, a new home, still in Clifton at 363 Lafayette near Mt. Storm Park, was purchased for $200,000, the funds for which were partially provided by the sale of the 750 Ludlow Avenue property. President Winkler, as well as President Joseph Steger, enjoyed this house until 2003.
However, while it was a beautiful residence in many ways, the house left visitors with the feeling of being somewhat removed from "the university and the city." A fresh emphasis and dedication to ideals of a full partnership in the urban life of Cincinnati, meant it was time once more for the University of Cincinnati's president to provide a bridge between campus and community. In 2004, the presidential residence became a beautiful condominium in the Edgecliff Point tower near Eden Park, built on the site where the former Edgecliff College once stood. The condo was owned by UC benefactors Buck and Patti Niehoff, who donated its use to the university for ten years. Nancy Zimpher became the first University of President to live there, and in 2008 the Niehoffs gave the condominium as an outright gift to UC.
The residence contained some interesting historical items, such as wall sconces from Cincinnati's Hotel Sinton, constructed in 1907 and demolished some decades ago. As the official resident of UC's president, the home served not only as a private residence, but was also used for special events hosted by first Dr. Zimpher, and then President Gregory Williams. It was officially known as University House at Edgecliff Point. The president's residence at Edgecliff Point was sold in 2013 and the proceeds were used to establish the Niehoff Presidential Scholarship Endowment at the recommendation of UC President Santa Ono.
- Kevin Grace