May 2013

What’s New · Clifton Branch Project Gets Underway

In April 2013, the Library Board selected McClorey and Savage as architects for the renovation of Parkview Manor, the former home of George Barnesdale “Boss” Cox, into a new branch Library. Design work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013 with construction beginning in 2014 and the project completed in 2015.

Michael L. Dever, president of Performance Automotive Network, donated Parkview Manor to the Library for a new Clifton Branch in the Spring of 2010. Designed by noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford, the 10,000 square foot home is located at 3400 Brookline Avenue, a few blocks from the current branch, on a generous lot with room for off-street parking. Parkview Manor is large enough to accommodate a dedicated children’s room, teen area, program space, meeting rooms, and a computer lab. A feasibility study shows the collection size can also be increased and an elevator added for complete accessibility to the branch.

Parkview Manor History and Architecture

George B. Cox (1853-1916) controlled Cincinnati politics for over 25 years. In his early 40s, “Boss” Cox contracted the region’s most prominent architectural firm, Hannaford & Sons, to build a residence in the Clifton Gaslight District. “Boss” Cox lived in Parkview Manor and entertained lavishly there from 1895 until his death in 1916. His wife maintained the home until she died in 1938. It was bequeathed to the Union Bethel and became a home for girls until 1947 when it was purchased by Pi Kappa Alpha for a fraternity house. In 2007 Michael L. Dever purchased the property.

Parkview Manor is a polychromatic stone building, with a prominent three-story turret, in the Renaissance Revival style. The foundation walls are Indiana limestone and the exterior walls are coursed sandstone backed with limestone. Features of note in the house include circular and triangular shaped rooms, numerous secret passageways, and unique architectural elements such as stained glass windows, chandeliers, and hand-carved mantles and newel posts. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Need for the Project

Clifton area residents are very heavy users of their branch: in 2012, area residents borrowed or downloaded 208,133 items, making Clifton the 23rd busiest branch in our system. Despite the lack of a meeting room, the branch presented 339 programs in 2012, attended by 6,428 people. The current 2,520 square-foot storefront rental facility is very cramped with space for only a limited collection, no dedicated teen area, no program or meeting rooms, and room for just eight computers. Growing demand for library services far exceeds the capacity of the current facility.

To better serve the community, the Library has been searching for a new location for a larger branch in Clifton for more than 30 years but finding an appropriate site has been difficult. Since 1990, more than 20 sites have been considered as possible locations.

Benefits to the Community of a New Branch

  • Larger collection of materials for all ages
  • More computers and a computer lab
  • Dedicated children’s room
  • Homework/study center with workstations and spaces for group study
  • Program room for class visits and programs for children, teens, and adults
  • Dedicated teen area
  • Comfortable reading areas
  • Meeting rooms for community use
  • Convenient location near the business district
  • Offstreet parking

The Library Board and staff are excited by the opportunity to make this notable building into a much needed larger library facility for Clifton residents, while preserving a unique piece of Cincinnati history.

Slideshow of Parkview Manor Pictures
Hand-carved woodwork in the house
Hand-carved woodwork inside the house
Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director Kim Fender and the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity
Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director Kim Fender and the Pi Kappa Alpha
fraternity in front of Parkview Manor
Community forum input session
Clifton residents offer their suggestions for features and services
that might be included in the new branch