Samuel Hannaford & Edwin Procter  

The Legacy of Samuel Hannaford Main Page

Copyright © 2006 Betty Ann Smiddy 

The original building of the Queen City Club was designed in 1876 by Hannaford & Procter in the Ruskinian Gothic style and stood on the corner of Elm and 7th streets.

The Italianate styled Emery Hotel was constructed in 1876 with Hannaford & Procter as architects. This building on Vine St., below 5th, was the first collaboration between the Emery family and Hannaford, but it wouldn’t be the last. It featured the innovative Emery Arcade, running between Vine to Race Sts. Advertisement for the Emery Hotel.

The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, 65 E. Hollister St., was originally designed by Hannaford & Procter in 1877. George K. Schoenberger donated the land. Because the church did not want to incur any debt, the Vestry voted “that we build a Chapel only, at a cost not to exceed $6,000, and that Messrs. Hannaford & Procter be requested to furnish plans and specifications on full, for the new Church, at a cost not to exceed $250 of which they donate $150, which was adopted.” The bid from Hannaford & Procter was accepted. Mr. Douglass, a church member, did the actual construction. The church is in the English Gothic style and has a stick style decoration on the wooden portico. The hammerbeam barrel wood ceiling is the original from this time and is probably walnut.

The church adjoins Inwood Park, which was at that time Schoenberger’s Woods - his summer home. Schoenberger had a deer lodge there which was later used as his summer garden and resort. There still is a circular road that ran past the front of his house. In Clifton, Schoenberger’s home, Scarlet Oaks, is a well known mansion.  It was on the grounds of Schoenberger’s Woods that a limestone quarry operated, providing stone for the foundations of many of the local homes. Schoenberger was an industrialist who owned “Juanita Ironworks.”

It was in this church that vestryman Harley Thomas Procter (brother of the architect Edwin Procter) was listening to a sermon one October morning in 1879. On his mind was trying to find a name for his company’s new soap that, due to a fortuitous accident, floated. As the Rev. Dr. Rhodes read Psalms 45:8, “All Thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes, and cassia out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made Thee glad,” the word “ivory” stood out in Procter’s mind, and thus the soap was named.

In 1881 the church was enlarged for the first time, the rear wall being carried back. Mr. Douglass again did the construction based upon earlier Hannaford & Procter plans. At that time the Hook & Hastings organ from Boston was purchased, dismantled in Boston and brought to Cincinnati aboard a barge. It is still in use today and funds are being raised for its restoration.

Architect James W. McLaughlin was approached in 1888 for a plan and costs to expand the church further.  The rough plan he submitted indicated that it would cost $10,000-$12,000 for the proposed work. McLaughlin offered to prepare the plans and specifications for $300. As an alternative he would provide plans, specifications and superintend the work for 5% of the cost, and the church agreed. W. H. Stewart & Sons performed the construction.  

It was at this renovation that the Tiffany rose window was donated by Telford Groesbeck in honor of his mother, Elizabeth Burnet Groesbeck, daughter of Judge Jacob Burnet.

A final remodeling of the chancel in 1901 was done by Mr. A. O. Elzner. The altar dates from the time of the Cincinnati art carved furniture movement.

The exterior of rusticated stone, is broken by massive wooden doors with prominent hinges. The floor plan forms a Roman cross. Even though the church is small it is so arranged as to be uncluttered. The painted walls were originally stenciled. Without the very elaborate ornamentation often seen with the Gothic style, the stained glass windows, and carved wood take on an importance and beauty in the clean lines of the church interior. To save money, the exterior rear wall was built of plain brick.

The church has several original stained glass windows that need to be restored along with the Hook & Hastings organ. If you would like to make a donation please contact: Church of Our Saviour, 65 E. Hollister St., Cincinnati, OH 45219, 513-241-1870

Another church in the English Gothic style also designed by Hannaford & Procter in 1877 is the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 7348 Kirkwood Lane, Fernbank. It also has rough faced stone. In the Rare Book Room, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is a notebook by Hannaford with color drawing of the church, along with specifications by J. W. and C. W. Short of the vestry building committee. It is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.  

So much has been written about Music Hall (1243 Elm St. between 13th & 14th Sts.) that the author won’t touch on all of its history. Designated a National Historic Landmark in Jan. 1975, it also is on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register (1970). The plans/blueprints for Music Hall are at the Cincinnati Historical Society. Built between 1876-1878, its style has been teasingly referred to as Sauerbraten Byzantine, but I’ll settle for High Victorian Gothic. The stonework was by Isaac Graveson. The woodwork was by James Griffith. The 372 foot cherry red pressed brick facade faces Washington Park. The building used 3.6 million bricks and covers 2.5 acres. The construction costs were $446,000. It is a cathedral built for music.

The first May Festival in 1873 was in the Saenger Halle and lasted all day and into the night. Tickets cost $2. Beer was sold in the basement. A heralded new feature to the event was an hour-long intermission. In 1873 the Festival lasted seven days and crowds were consistently around 4,000. There was a children’s chorus of 1,200 in addition to over 1,000 adults, representing some 37 German singing societies. Saenger Halle was home to other singing festivals before the May Festival.

Saenger Halle was built on the site of the “pest house,” across the canal from  the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum. The former orphanage housed those with contagious diseases and its grounds were used as a “potter’s field,” burying the destitute, the criminal, and the nameless. When the foundation for Music Hall was dug, remains of many graves were found and relocated to Spring Grove Cemetery. Washington Park also had been the site of Episcopal and Presbyterian cemeteries until the property became too valuable for that use. Before being used as a hospital, the 1818 building was the Cincinnati Orphans Asylum that later moved to Mt. Auburn. So strong was that building’s foundation that today’s steel grid work for stage lighting and scenery rest upon it.

In 1875, Reuben R. Springer, a rich merchant and land speculator, sat in the auditorium of Saenger Halle attending a choral May Festival. It was raining so hard on the hall’s tin roof, that he couldn’t hear the performance. So he decided that a new music hall was in order - that is an oft repeated legend.  What happened was that the world famous conductor Theodore Thomas refused to lead the orchestra during the storm because the orchestra couldn’t be heard over the noise on the roof. The Halle was a wooden barn-like building with a leaky metal roof.  Guests were often drenched and the ‘Cincinnati Enquirer’ wrote that the sound of the rain was “like dried peas on a drum-head.”

Springer wanted a new hall built for “exposition, musical and public meeting purposes.” He thought that the old hall was of a good design and acoustics and was thinking of a building of brick instead of wood and something other that metal for the roof. There was opposition to a hall only for music as Cincinnati was known for its expositions which enhanced the city”s reputation and brought in revenue. To quell the opposition, the design was to include space where these trade shows could be held.

Springer said, “The building should be plain, but very substantial, and care should be observed not to lavish money on mere ornamentation.” Springer and Joseph Longworth toured the country looking at music halls in other cities. Plans were submitted by architects throughout the country, including James McLaughlin (Cincinnati), A. F. Oakey (New York) and Ware & Van Brunt (Boston,) but the solidly Teutonic design of Hannaford & Procter was chosen. It retained a look of the building it replaced. The building committee was Julius Dexter, William Henry Harrison and Joseph Longworth.

Springer financed a large portion of the building and put up funds to be matched by citizens as a way to get them involved. He first donated $125,000 with the stipulation that citizens match that amount and that the new building be used into perpetuity at nominal rent and no taxes on the city donated site of the Saengerfest Halle. Then he donated $50,000 more if the citizens would raise an additional $100,000 for exhibition buildings. Finally he added another $20,000 to see the project completed. School children collected and contributed $3,000. When finished, Music Hall cost $300,962.78; the Exhibition wings $146,331.51 and the organ $32,695. The main building was built in one year and costs were within $1,000 of the estimate. This building made Hannaford’s fame and he dissolved his partnership with Procter in 1878. His sons Charles and Harvey joined him as draftsmen and as apprentices.

A prominent feature of Music Hall is the rose window along with towers, carved limestone insets, decorative brickwork, and stained glass. The bands and molded string courses are of Ohio River sandstone. The bricks are laid in black mortar with sunken joints. The foundation is of limestone and concrete. The brick arch is 150 feet tall and at its apex stands an empty pedestal. In early engravings it is capped by a statue of an angel and two children - the Genius of Music- but she was never made due to financial concerns. There is a second arch outlined around the rose window by red and black bricks. Overall the play of light and shadow changes the facade during the day. This exuberant building demonstrated what Hannaford could do even within restrictions.

Insets for the Machinery Hall are carved with a crossed hammer, gears, a compass and protractor. Those for the Art/Horticultural Hall are a sunflower and morning glory panel. Over the carriage gates are a dove eating huckleberries and a flying songbird. There is a musical panel of a hunter’s horn, lyre, flue and violin. The stone date of 1877 is clear and there is the elaborate monogram of EC, probably standing for the Exposition Commission.

The pine and poplar wooden walls and woodwork were oiled and no plaster was originally used. Above the gallery the north and south walls held 10 stained glass windows. There are 30 inch brick firewalls although what passed for fire proof construction for that time was not used because of cost. Nevertheless, Music Hall has never had a fire. Topping the red and gray slate patterned roof were iron finials and crestings, as well as flag poles on the towers.

Nine interior columns per side extended to the ceiling and between each pair of columns was a window. The hall was lit by gas. There was a three sided gallery on the sides with a two story gallery in back

Hannaford wrote in the ‘American Architect and Building News’, April 1878: “The Plum Street facade is built of best quality common red brick laid in yellow mortar with flush joints. The effect is to enhance greatly the body color of the building; so that in the glow of an afternoon sun it warms to the intensity of coral.”

Music Hall consisted of three individual buildings separated by carriage ways; the central one for music (named Springer auditorium), one wing for horticultural exhibits and one for industrial expositions. The building was completed in time for the May 14, 1878 May Festival and the exposition building was completed in 1879 in time for the Industrial Exposition. The combined capacity was 8,000 people. The main hall’s auditorium had a large audience capacity of 4,284 seats.

On May Festival opening night, scalpers got $50 a seat and the audience crowded in at 6,000 people. Over 10,000 jammed the street to watch the audience arrive. There was no stage, just a platform, with choral stalls on the corners and a massive Hook and Hastings pipe organ. The organ was the fifth largest in the world and was 60-80 ft. high. On the platform were 1,500 performers.

The organ was a focal point with 6,237 pipes. It was screened with an elaborate native wood cherry casing carved by ten women chosen in a competition from Benjamin Pittman’s School of Design. The largest frieze was carved by the father and son pair of Henry and William Fry. The panels depicted the great composers of music, the time of day and the seasons. When the organ was moved in 1894 some of the panels were removed and returned to Mr. Pitman who used them to line his study. The screen was designed by Robert Rogers. The organ was replaced in 1974. The carved screen was dismantled - some parts went to the Cincinnati Historical Society, some were auctioned, and the rest were reassembled in the orchestra pit.

These large choruses (1,000 participants or more) were a German community event. Springer auditorium’s almost flat floor could also be used for expositions as the chairs weren’t permanently fixed. Above the foyer was Dexter Hall, a smaller space seating 1,200, to be used for recitals. Julius Dexter was chairman of the building committee. Murat Halstead, editor of the ‘Cincinnati Commercial’ declared that “Cincinnati is the central city of the Nation” following the opening of Music Hall. Other journalists called Cincinnati the “Paris of America.”  “No selling or giving away of beer, ale, porter or spirituous liquors...” was permitted thus distancing the new Springer auditorium from the rowdier Germanic Saengerfest tradition. 

Under the direction of Thomas, following May Festivals used a smaller chorus. He demanded a high standard in both his orchestra and chorus and believed he could get a better chorus with fewer singers that were hand picked.   

The back of Music Hall sat right against the canal. While guests came in carriages, some came by canal boat. The canal was used to great advantage in 1888 when the Industrial Exhibition roofed over part of the canal and floated gondolas on it - named it the “Grand Canal” as in Venice, Italy. This Exposition was so large that buildings were erected in Washington Park and an elevated covered bridge spanned from the park to Music Hall.

In 1894-1895 the Springer auditorium was remodeled by Hannaford & Sons to accommodate orchestras, actor and opera troupes. The organ was moved, the platform extended  72 feet to form a stage and a proscenium wall and arch were built. The auditorium was reshaped and the choral stalls removed, a balcony added and gallery changed. The floor was sloped and permanent seating was installed. It was then that the windows facing the canal were bricked up.  The wooden walls were removed to be replaced by those plaster painted white. The ceiling was lowered. This renovation cost $118,330.41. An oil painting of the ‘Allegory of the Arts’ was added in the center domed area in 1905 by Arthur Thomas.  The figures represent Music, Science, History and Literature. By then Cincinnati had lost its status as an industrial exposition center to Chicago.

In 1833 Cincinnati was the first city to hold a trade fair. The new Music Hall needed to function as a convention center and it was until the present convention center opened in 1967. Machinery Hall (north hall) was meant to show mechanical wonders of steam and industry. It was there in 1883 that Thomas Edison demonstrated the electric light bulb. Art Hall (south hall) was for horticultural. Plans were to construct a greenhouse on the second level with south facing glass panels but this design was never built.

After the Civil War, Cincinnati decided it wanted to be the cultural capitol of America. Once Music Hall was built, the dream was closer to being fulfilled. It became home to the Symphony Orchestra in 1896. In 1912 the symphony moved to Emery Auditorium on Elm Street (another Hannaford & Sons building) but returned in 1937.

Music Hall has hosted political conventions (Democratic National Convention 1880), air shows, home shows, dances and banquets, cat shows, military shows, coal shows, Billy Sunday’s revival meetings, Jimmy Hoffa and Janis Joplin. It was the first location of the Cincinnati Art Museum 1882-1886. Music Hall was where the crowd gathered to start the courthouse riot of 1884 and where the funeral service for U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former Governor of Ohio, Salmon P. Chase, was held. From 1886-1901 it was the Technical School of Cincinnati, predecessor to U.C.’s College of Engineering. The North Hall was home to U.C. basketball, tennis, wrestling - think “Gorgeous George”, boxing, dirt bike races and circuses. The South Hall hosted auto shows and dances. Dexter Hall served as the first location of Channel 48, WCET.

In 1937 the City was thinking of tearing Music Hall down as a fire hazard. It was found to be sound and no more a hazard than it was when it was built

It has been remodeled and improved many times. The Corbett family and the Corbett Foundation has donated over $7 million. Music Hall now has 3,629 seats. The wooden backed seats have acoustical properties but some find them uncomfortable.

Of note are the ballroom glass and bronze doors, etched mirrors, columns, wooden paneling, cast iron railings and ticket booth, all which were saved when the Albee Theater was demolished in 1977 and reused here. In the North Hall is a large mirror that once hung in the famed Burnet House hotel.

For more information on Music Hall:

Music Hall: Cincinnati Finds Its Voice, WCET, DVD

Cincinnati Enquirer  May 17, 1998, special section on May Festival 125th Anniversary

History of Music Hall and Tour Guide, Claudette Nebelsick McCarty, 1973  

Other buildings by Hannaford & Procter:

Mt. Washington Mortuary (1877) Mt. Washington Cemetery

Hartwell United Methodist Church (1875) Parkway Circle & Woodbine Ave., Hartwell

Glendale Town Hall (1875) 80 E. Sharon Rd., Glendale  

Copyright © 2006 Betty Ann Smiddy