The Gamble House is a demolished residence at 2918 Werk Road in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was the home of James Norris Gamble, an inventor, humanitarian, and son of Proctor & Gamble’s co-founder.
Ratonagh, more commonly known as the Gamble House, was constructed by James Norris Gamble on the site of his father’s earlier dwelling in 1875. 1 3 5 Named after the Gamble clan’s ancestral hometown in Northern Ireland, the 2½-story, 2,644 square-foot Queen Anne residence was situated on a 60-acre plot. 3
Gamble resided in the vast house for 57 years until his death in 1932. 3 5 10 His daughter, Olivia, lived in the house until she died in the 1960s. The house was then transferred to the Greenacres Foundation of Indian Hill, founded and headed by philanthropist Louise Nippert. 4 Louise’s late husband, Louis Nippert, was Gamble’s grandson. 3 4
Neglect and Demolition
The size of the Gamble estate had been reduced down to 15 acres by the 21st century, long ago subdivided for subdivisions. 2 On February 18, 2010, Greenacres informed the city that it was soliciting bids for the demolition of the Gamble House, who had long wanted to use the property for an outdoor education center. It also cited costs of maintaining and repairing the house as reasons to move forward with the razing of the house, 3 with the costs of restoration at over $1 million. 5
Two parts of the demolition application were approved on February 22, 4 but on May 12, the residence was placed on the local Historic Landmarks list. 10 17 18 Greenacres rejected an offer of $150,000 to purchase the Gamble House by the Cincinnati Preservation Association on August 13. 15 27
In mid-September, Greenacres began dismantling the house’s interior in preparation for eventual demolition. 6 7 8 Federal Judge Susan J. Dlott ordered Greenacres to stop dismantling the Gamble House on September 28 and to put parts of the house that were removed back together. 7 The order directed that “nothing else be removed from the house without prior approval of this Court.” Later, Dlott ordered Greenacres until December 17 to produce an inventory of “all structural and non-structural items that have been removed” from the residence. 10
The Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board denied an application for a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the residence on December 6. 10 11 In a split vote of the Cincinnati Livable Communities Committee on the following day, the city voted to set aside $300,000 to purchase the Gamble House. 11 12
Greenacres rejected a third bid of $250,000 from the Cincinnati Preservation Association to purchase the Gamble House on January 26, 2011. 26 27 The city Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4-0 on February 28 to uphold a decision to deny a request by Greenacres for a demolition permit 24 and on March 2, the city Board of Housing Appeals voted 5-1 to deny an appeal by Greenacres to avoid obtaining a Vacant Building Maintenance License.
In July, County Common Pleas Magistrate Michael L. Bachman declared that a demolition permit be awarded to Greenacres for the Gamble House, noting that the house was declared historic only after Greenacres filed for a demolition permit. 23 County Common Pleas Judge Robert Winkler ruled on January 20, 2012, that the demolition proceedings of the Gamble House should continue. 22 A three-judge panel of Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals ruled on October 17 that the city could not refuse to issue a demolition permit for the Gamble House based on the urban conservator’s determination that the structure had historical significance. 21
On January 23, 2013, a demolition permit was issued for the Gamble House 20 and it was demolished on April 1. 19
- Giglierano, Geoffrey J., Deborah A. Overmyer, and Frederic L. Propas. “Western Suburbs.” The Bicentennial Guide to Greater Cincinnati: A Portrait of Two Hundred Years. Cincinnati: Cincinnati Historical Society, 1998. 618. Print.
- Monk, Dan. “Westwood activists work to save Gamble estate.” Business Courier of Cincinnati 12 Feb. 2010. 23 Feb. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Debate rages over fate of Gamble mansion.” Cincinnati Enquirer 21 Feb. 2010. 23 Feb. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Gamble house closer to demolition.” Cincinnati Enquirer 22 Feb. 2010. 23 Feb. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Preservationists want Gamble house repaired, not razed.” Cincinnati Enquirer 24 Feb. 2010. 25 Feb. 2010 Article.
- Prendergast, Jane. “City balks at seizing Gamble house.” Cincinnati Enquirer 27 Sept. 2010. 1 Oct. 2010 Article.
- “Judge orders Gamble House owners to stop dismantling property.” Cincinnati Enquirer 28 Sept. 2010. 1 Oct. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Winburn: City must take Gamble house.” Cincinnati Enquirer 24 Sept. 2010. 1 Oct. 2010 Article.
- “Cincinnati Preservation Association’s offer to purchase, restore James N. Gamble House denied.” Release.
- Radel, Cliff. “Conservation board denies permit to demolish Gamble house.” Cincinnati Enquirer 6 Dec. 2010. 6 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Prendergast, Jane. “Council splits on seizing Gamble House.” Cincinnati Enquirer 7 Dec. 2010. 6 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Prendergast, Jane. “Mayor delays Gamble house vote.” Cincinnati Enquirer 8 Dec. 2010. 6 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Gamble House offer drops.” Cincinnati Enquirer 20 Nov. 2010. 6 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Winburn ‘finds’ $750K for Gamble House.” Cincinnati Enquirer 10 Nov. 2010. 7 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Gamble house restoration rejected.” Cincinnati Enquirer 13 Aug. 2010. 7 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “James Gamble house should stand, rules Cincinnati Zoning Board of Appeals.” Cincinnati Enquirer 21 June 2010. 7 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Gamble house feud moves to federal court.” Cincinnati Enquirer 27 May 2010. 7 Dec. 2010 Article.
- Radel, Cliff. “Gamble home given historic status.” Cincinnati Enquirer 12 May 2010. 7 Dec. 2010 Article.
- May, Lucy. “Gamble House demolished in Westwood.” Kentucky Post 1 Apr. 2013. 2 Apr. 2013. Article.
- “City Issues Demolition Permit for Historic Gamble House.” WCPO [Cincinnati] 23 Jan. 2013. 2 Apr. 2013. Article.
- “Judge OKs demolition permit for Gamble House.” Business Courier [Cincinnati] 17 Oct. 2012. 2 Apr. 2013.
- Radel, Cliff. “Historic Gamble House wins a stay.” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 15 Feb. 2012. 2 Apr. 2013.
- Radel, Cliff. “Judge’s ruling could make preservation more difficult.” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 17 Jul. 2011. 2 Apr. 2013.
- “City votes to protect Gamble House.” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 2 Mar. 2011. 2 Apr. 2013.
- Radel, Cliff. “At Gamble House, is it ‘demolition by neglect’?” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 12 Feb. 2011. 2 Apr. 2013.
- Radel, Cliff. “Foundation: Gamble restoration, use more critical than price.” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 27 Jan. 2011. 2 Apr. 2013.
- Radel, Cliff. “Group nixes latest Gamble House offer.” Enquirer [Cincinnati] 26 Jan. 2011. 2 Apr. 2013.
8 CommentsAdd Yours →
How can we know where we are going if we don’t know where we have been. Distroying landmarks of history make us hedonistic wanderers, lost in the present, and totally missing the big picture of our cultural past. Sure, let’s fix unemployment, feed the poor, and improve education, but these problems are omnipresent. Once something is gone, it cannot be replaced, and posterity suffers. I am saddened by the many losses our children will never experience. I can’t help but feel there was an agenda to the home’s demolition: especially when millions of dollars were donated toward preservation.
I live in Westwood,the frist time i saw this house.I wanted it,the house.She is beautiful,and needs to be saved.I pray to God,if only i were rich.I would buy her…I will pray that someone will…TO KILL HISTORY IS JUST WRONG.WITH IT WE WOULD NOT BE HERE..IT IS A BEAUTIFUL HOUSE..AND I PRAY ONE DAY SHE WILL GET A FAMILY.
I’m from Ga and the architecture here is amazing. To tear this house down is like a sin!
Hope the house can be saved and restored.
Tear the house down we have more important other things like education homeless unemployment people foreclosed homes that house is a waste of space we need to save our city not a house just sell it to the highest bidder.
Tearing down that house would not educate any homeless people or fix unemployment. Saving the city means saving its historic landmarks and preserving its beauty.
Blanchester Ohio could learn this as well of – quote- “Saving the city means saving its historic landmarks and preserving its beauty.” … Well said 🙂 Thank You..
someone send this guy a plane ticket so he can get the fuck outta here! i think theres a tax exemption for shipping dummys outta the states!