I had a chance to take a walking tour of historic Columbia Tusculum in Ohio and loved all the colorful old houses we got to see.
The neighborhood has rows of Victorian Painted Ladies like this one perched on the hills overlooking the river.
Columbia Tusculum is the oldest neighborhood in Cincinnati, settled on the banks of the Ohio River when Native Americans were still living there.
For many years they lived in “block houses” inside what was known as Fort Miami. Early maps marked the area as “Slaughterhouse” because so many white settlers were killed or kidnapped by the Native Americans.
An old history book, quoted on the community website, described a cabin built in 1789:
“Its narrow doors of thick oak plank, turning on stout wooden hinges, and secured with strong bars braced with timber from the floor, formed a safe barrier to the entrance below; while above, on every side, were port-holes, or small embrasures, from which we might see and fire upon the enemy.
“Of windows we had but two, containing only four panes of glass each, in openings so small, that any attempt to enter them, by force, must have proved fatal to an assailant.”
Early settlers took their guns with them everywhere — even to church.
General Anthony Wayne’s army defeated the Indian tribes in 1794 at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, clearing the way for the white settlers to live more normal lives and build “regular homes.”
The oldest existing home in the area dates back to 1804.
They initially built close to the river but soon learned that they were too easily flooded there. That’s why they began building higher up in the hills.
The streets are extremely steep, as are the narrow steps leading from them up to the houses. It’s difficult to photograph the exteriors because they are so high above you when you’re standing on the sidewalk.
I’d love to know how women managed to walk up and down those steps in their long dresses! And I can only imagine what it was like during long winters when everything turned to ice. Even today with salt trucks and snow plows, it would be dicey.
On the third floor is a balcony where you can sit and look out at the Ohio River:
You can see the Ohio River in the distance from this hill:
This house was at the tippy-top of one of the hills.
Hope you enjoyed this peek into some of the grand old ladies on the hill!
To see more photos I took in Columbia Tusculum, click here.
Jen R Sanctuary Arts says
Love those old houses. I really like that old fireplace. I always wanted to live in a house like that!..
You should watch DR. who too.. with David Tennent, there is something or everyone 😉
Fun! Gosh, that tour could’ve been in San Francisco!
I love the first pendant light. I love to see homes like this. They look like they are ready for a grand ball. I’m not too far from San Francisco and I love to take drives up there to look at the gorgeous Victorians in all their glory!
Ramona Owen says
Yes…it reminds me of San Francisco too. It would be so much fun to decorate one of those gorgeous home. Thank you for such a fun tour….what a great way to start the week!
Smiles ~ Ramona
so beautiful! what a fun tour. i’d be in heaven!
*sigh* these are like my old house. a beautiful purple victorian. thanks for sharing all the pretty!!
Passion for Rugs says
Oh what a delight those houses were, and so steeped in history. And quite a bargain compared to the RE prices in SF. The view of the river – heavenly! Thank you dear Julia for coordinating another wonderful tour. Jane
LOVE the third floor balcony on the first house!!
The doors on those houses are beyond amazing. Old houses sing to my soul. The character, the history, everything. Whenever I renovate, I try to add some character to set my house apart from the others that are just like it (both inside and out). Thanks for the tour – I very much enjoyed it while sipping my apple carmel coffee this morning. And I loved the tour party on Friday.
Great history lesson. I grew up in Ohio…when I was young and stupid and didn’t pay attention to the architecture and stately mansions in the historic districts. What was I thinking? Thank you for showing me what I missed. Can’t wait to see the rest of the grand old ladies on the hill.
angela | the painted house says
Please take Lily’s advice and paint your house purple and then add some angels and paste up a tropical beach mural in your master bedroom…
I love these old houses and their history.
Why do people ruin historical houses by making them modern? Hello–if you want a contemporary house, BUY ONE!
Other than the fact I’d kill myself on the stairs in the dead of summer when they’re DRY and debri-free, and they’re more than I could ever afford, I think I wouldn’t mind living in one. The views would be worth it. And the porches. Can’t get enough of big wooden proches.
Oh, and I agree with Angela. Didn’t you know you wasted all that time finding the perfect Pecan paint? 😉
Amy from Texas says
Great tours. I love how much personality these homes have. I live in such a new area that we don’t see homes like this EVER! I miss them.
[email protected] says
How adorable is that purple house? My daughter will love it, I’ll show her in the morning when she gets up 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for showing us these beautiful homes julia, I just love looking at the Victorian Homes.
These homes are gorgeous. I love old homes, gingerbread molding and front porches. Karen
Bella Casa says
What a gorgeous place! That street reminds me of that famous street in San Francisco.
Is this the neighborhood (or close to the neighborhood) that was fighting imminent domain, that was featured on 60 Minutes? I remember that it was on a steep hill like that overlooking water.
I just loved this tour, would love any of these houses, prices are not bad compared to other parts of the country, not that I have $384 laying around for a house though 😉
Love your blog 🙂
What a unique area/street! Purple is my favorite color so I am partial to that home. 🙂 I really like the original brick structures inside. KV
Shelley Jo says
Oooh! I LOVE painted ladies AND I love purple and pink!! SO pretty.
Pennie Mills says
Wow, such beautiful and colorful pictures. The situation of the homes remind me of a street leading into a city where I grew up, though those houses were not nearly as colorful. I really liked the balcony and as you pointed out, the doors. I love a pretty front door, ours is kind of plain with a window at the top, but it is a nice backdrop to decorate-(focus on the positive)! Great tour-great blog. Thanks so much 🙂 Pennie
Hi Julia 🙂
Those houses are so sweet and the views are amazing! I loved the fireplaces 🙂
laura @ the shore house says
That is one really pink house. 🙂
I love these houses! I love the architectural features on the inside…the brick work, the exposed beams, the original wood door. Love. I have to agree with the comments that said this reminded them of San Francisco. Especially the shot of the homes lined up on the hill.
That is wild. 😀
dolce chic says
Love this place! I could live in pink house!!!!! 🙂
This is amazing!! My cousin is the person who gave you the memories of growing up in this historic neighborhood. I’m somewhat younger than her, but, I remember so many things as well about the neighborhood and her house. I still live close to this area and am always amazed when I drive by to see what people have done to these homes. Whenever I have out of town guests, I ALWAYS take them by Aunt R & Uncle J’s house. As a teenager, to earn some money, I used to clean the house for my aunt and uncle. My favorite spot was the living room, with all of the windows. I also remember helping to carry groceries up all of those steps! Thanks so much for featuring this home. I only wish that my mom had a computer and the internet so that she could see what has been done to her brother’s old home. She would love this feature as well!
Cathy Schiffiano says
How awesome to see this site with my Aunt and Uncles home on Tusculum! It really brings back memories for me. I use to love sitting on their front porch looking over the Ohio River when I would come to visit them from out of town.
“The Victorian Painted Ladies” reminds me so much of the older homes on “Rainbow Row” in Charleston, SC.
That absolutely love!
I really like your Hooked On Homes site. My cousin shared this with me and I’m so glad that she did.
Thanks for sharing!
Bob Wuest says
Great site Julie! Awesome pictures! Suggestion – put a link somewhere on your site to allow your visitors to search the Cincinnati MLS!
Is there a reason for painting historic houses these ridiculous colours?