Columbia Tusculum’s Victorian Painted Ladies

Irecently discovered Amber’s blog Snapshots of Life, which featured some amazing photos of Columbia Tusculum and its famous “Victorian Painted Ladies.” I was excited because these houses are beautiful, of course, but also because they’re not far from where I live here in Cincinnati. Somehow it had never occurred to me to show them to you. I asked Amber if I could show you some of her pictures, and she graciously agreed.

Remember that home show tour I showed you pictures from last week? Afterwards, we drove over to Columbia Tusculum and took some photos of it, too. Dave patiently drove up and down the steep hills of the historic neighborhood at about 10 m.p.h. so I could snap as many photographs as possible (let’s just say we got honked at a couple of times for blocking the narrow streets as I tried to decide which houses to focus on), so I’ve got some of mine to show you, too.

Columbia Tusculum is the oldest neighborhood in Cincinnati, founded in 1788 at the junction of the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers. This was shortly before Cincinnati–originally named Losantiville–was settled. Columbia Tusculum opened the first school in the Cincinnati area in 1790. For years it was known as a steamboat-building town and was very prosperous. The oldest home still standing was built in 1804.

Okay, ready to gawk?

First, here are some of Amber’s photos:

Aren’t they fun to look at? Every house is painted a different combination of bright colors. As you can see, the homes are on very steep hills that come up from the riverbank, so sometimes I was pointing my camera straight up at them. Here are the photos I took recently:

Do you have a favorite? I’m not sure I could narrow it down to one. They were all so much fun! You can read the fascinating history of this town on Columbia Tusculum’s website. This was Indian territory, and let’s just say the Indians weren’t happy about the new settlement on the banks of the river. The settlers “even took their guns to church.”

Thanks again to Amber for inspiring this post and for generously sharing her photos of the area with us (go to her blog Snapshots of Life to see the rest that she took).

If you like these painted ladies, don’t miss the tour of this darling yellow one, shown below:

We're at our final stop on the Cincinnati Preservation Association's house tour in the North Avondale neighborhood. And I think I saved the best for…
As promised, today we're taking a tour of this charming yellow-painted Victorian home in Columbia Tusculum, which was the first neighborhood founded in the Cincinnati…

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  1. says

    Gosh, wouldn’t it be fun to go to Lowe’s to pick out *those* colors!! The paint really brings out the tiniest details in these houses. It’s amazing.

    And I’m mad I have to wait until tomorrow for the tour. I vote for now. :)

  2. says

    Can’t wait to see the inside of that yellow one! Hard to pick a favorite, but I’m torn between the one whose address is 561 (mostly green) and the one with the address of 3729 (mostly red). Also love that green one in the fourth shot. Least favorite are the REALLY bright ones (the purple, pink and yellow and the blue, purple and yellow ones).

  3. says

    Great pix and what a fun neighborhood. Bet those residents have strong legs and glutes( is that how you spell that; looks ridiculous??), lol. Makes my Providence shots look very somber.


  4. says

    I can’t pick one either. I love them all! It’s like looking at a Crayola box filled with houses rather than crayons. I love the creativity and the obvious lack of “neighborhood association” rules about pastels only!

  5. Tori says

    I found myself going ooh.. and awe… after every picture.
    Can’t wait to see the inside on the yellow one!

  6. says

    No fair – I want to see inside! Can’t wait to see your next post.

    They are so fun to look at but I don’t think I could live in a house that had more than 5 colors of paint on the exterior :) But I do love Victorian homes when they are updated with some modern style.

  7. Melanie says

    Oh how I love our city. I can’t wait to go down there and have a look for myself! Thanks for reminding me of all the great sights to see around here! BTW, I love them all except for the really bright PINK one, which if I won in a lottery, I would paint a cheery yellow!

  8. says

    I keep getting behind on my Google Reader–
    I loved all these colorful houses. I wanted one that I could paint all funky for myself. How cool, to totally have an open palette and do whatever struck your fancy (that you’d be willing to live with for awhile, unless you could afford a painter every time your whims changed)?
    It’s frightening how many of those 50’s BH&G rooms I”ve seen in real life. In my family. Yes, I run screaming.
    The crown moulding room? Too much for me, but I was more obsessed with how CLEAN the room was. I really like that clean look they have going, but I bet it wouldn’t last long at my house, if I did manage to acheive it. I like things too cosy, but then it’s so hard to keep them clean (and my kids out of the mess). One day I’ll purge all my husband’s stuff, and the hand-me-downs he INSISTS on keeping, and my house can be more like the crown moulding room.
    How could Paul Bettany and his wife trade something so beautiful for something so ugly? Forget the view. (Well it was good.) Their son’s better off being found at the park than in the river. They’re crazy. I liked Paul Bettany best in “A Knight’s Tale” with Heath Ledger. Nothing like a naked man who’s funny. So did he and his wife start dating while filming “A Beautiful Mind,” do you think?
    Sorry for the monologue.

  9. Laura says

    I love Victorian houses if for no other reason than the freedom to use what would be completely outlandish colors on any other style house!

  10. says

    THey are all so pretty – it’s hard to believe people actually painted their houses those colors, but it works for them, doesn’t it? I think my favorite is the house that is different shades of lavender, with the lavender flowering bush out front. I can’t see ever living in a purple-y house, but I think it’s so pretty.

  11. Melinda says

    We drive Tusculum hill every day because Lily goes to school at the Villa.Every day ,without fail ,she tells me the purple one will be hers when she gets big enough. I guess when you’re 5 years old the gaudier the better, right?

    I do love looking at them.

  12. says

    It is fun to see these, such different architecture than what we have around here! Fun colors! We have some of those, but not many! I have your link saved now for the DRIVE BYS: AROUND THE WORLD post, I’ll put it out in a couple of weeks once I get enough links to share. It should be fun to see everyone’s neighborhoods!

    Happy gawking,

  13. JLB says

    What a beautiful neighborhood. I personally am not a fan of Victorian style anything at all…but these houses are pretty.
    I cannot imagine how you explain to the painter where you want which color. After about the 6th color on one house I would give up….LOL.

  14. says

    I love them all!

    Now I’m going to go have a look inside the yellow one!


  15. says

    3rd picture down..the blue one. I love it.

    I have been through this neighborhood but it has been awhile. I am thinking I need a trip down to Cincy and take it in again!
    Beautiful photos all…

  16. says

    Thanks for all the links, and for linking back to other home tours that you have photographed. These homes on your tour are gorgeous, what a beautiful part of the country. Karen

  17. Vee~A Haven for Vee says

    I love painted ladies! We have one in my hometown and it was most interesting watching the painting go on. Is it even possible to choose a favorite? If so, I’m going with the pale yellow and pastels in the last one. Lovely!

  18. says

    I’ve always thought it would be fabulous to live in one of those “painted Ladies”
    Beautiful- thanks for sharing

  19. says

    WOW such fabulous use of color. Thank you so much for the tour of your neighborhood. One of my favorite activities is looking at houses and imagining what it would be like to own this house or that which is so different from my own basic multi-level:-)

    It’s an etsy:

  20. Valerie Kramer says

    I grew up in the house pictured on the far left in the first photo–516 Tusculum. A couple of the homes pictured are actually reconstruction. They were built to replace homes that met the wrecking ball in the 70’s before the neighborhood saw it’s Renaissance. My girlfriend lived in the purple house. Whenever my husband and I go back to Cincinnati, we always have to drive up the street and see how wonderful it looks!