Early Years of 129 W. Elder
129 W. Elder—originally listed as 65 Elder—first appeared in city directories in 1862 with Andreas Utz’ flour business. Andreas later Americanized his name to Andrew. Born in late November 1820 in Bettmaringen, Baden to Martin Utz and Johanna (Gantert), Andreas (1820-1883) after immigration ran a downtown confectionary business with G. A. Lattner yet he moved onto his own flour business by the early 1860s.
In 1865, as the Civil War ended, Christian Schlettisch ran a grocery business in the building’s commercial space. As would be the case for the rest of the 1800s, several tenants resided upstairs with their families, resulting in a densely crowded building. Fred J. Moses, another German immigrant, born in 1820, also had a grocery at the building in the 1860s. Jacob Theobald, born in 1839 in Hannover, briefly moved his bakery from 67 Elder (131 W. Elder) to 65 Elder in the late 1860s. From 1869 to 1870, 65 Elder housed William Lange’s bakery. Then, beginning in 1871, German Catholic immigrant Bernard S. Korfage (also listed as Karfhage) (1844-1880) used the space for his bakery.
Born in 1844, Bernard Severin was married to Josephine (1852-1940) and operated an early Cincinnati coffee house before he transitioned to running a bakery. While only a renter, Bernard owned all of the building’s interior fixtures and furniture to support his bakery business. In a messy turn of events, his landlord—and the building owner—Joseph Sherer signed the space over to another baker, William Langenheim (1839-1904), in the midst of Bernard’s unexpired lease. William signed this new lease and made a deposit in the fall of 1875, setting up his own bakery at the Findlay Market space. To do so, he purchased all of Bernard’s fixtures and equipment and operated out of the building until March 1876 at which point Sherer, “taking advantage of [William’s] temporary absence, forcibly took possession of the premises, and refused to allow [William] to enter the same, and sold the furniture and fixtures in the bakery, and converted the proceeds to his own use,” as the Enquirer reported.
William was not pleased and sued Joseph Sherer. In court, Joseph claimed that he had only leased the space to William on a month-by-month basis and that William “voluntarily surrendered” the space to him. The jury ended up siding with William and leveling a fee on Joseph of almost $500 for compensation. City directories then listed William running his bakery nearby on Elm Street by 1880. William Langenheim, born in 1839 in Prussia, had immigrated to the U.S. in 1858 and, upon the start of the Civil War, joined the Union Army’s 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Company. He was mustered in for three months of service as a Private. After this term expired, he re-enlisted for another three years, earning the rank of Corporal and later Sergeant. After the war, he resumed his baking business. By 1880, John Hoffmann (ca. 1825-1917) ran a grocery store out of 65 Elder. Born in 1825 in Prussia, John began working in Cincinnati (possibly as early as the 1850s) as a carpenter, slowly building his connections and wealth. He married a woman from Hannover, Amelia Seigmann, on July 3rd, 1855 and had Elizabeth, Albias and August with her. As John used the first floor of 65 Elder for his business, he and his family lived upstairs.
Leonard K. Baehr’s Coffee & Tea
From 1880 until 1885, Leonard K. Baehr used the storefront at 47 Elder (or 111 W. Elder) for his tea and coffee products. Mid-decade, though, he moved his business to 65 Elder where he remained until the early 1900s. He and his family also resided at 65 Elder as he ran his grocery there. Born in 1855 in Bavaria, Leonard arrived in the U.S. in 1870. He first lived in New Orleans, a common entry city for many immigrants in the 19th century. There, he met his wife Marie Lewis (1855-1932), a woman from Louisiana and also of a German immigrant background. By the late 1800s, he called his company the Hong Kong Tea Company. Like other coffee and tea companies of the time, Leonard’s business operated more as a grocery. It offered dry goods, produce and toiletries in addition to caffeinated drinks.
After growing up inside 65 Elder, Leonard’s two sons did not follow their father in his trade but still led notable careers and lives, worth mentioning. His older son Edmund became a physician after graduating from the Ohio Medical College with high honors in 1901. The Robinson Circus, a popular touring circus around 1900, soon employed him.
When traveling with them to Bainbridge, Georgia in 1904, a group of men got into an argument and unfortunately Edmund got caught in the shotgun crossfire, resulting in massive damage to his right leg. Even more unfortunately, the men in the argument were African American; that they shot a white man—albeit accidentally—in the South in the early 1900s meant a lynching mob of white residents soon went after them. The horrible instance was not Edward’s first encounter with gunfire. When he was twelve—as the family lived at 65 Elder—he was playing with a Flobert rifle and accidentally discharged the gun into his left eye. Thereafter, he had to wear a glass eye. Such tragedies did not affect his career, though.
He later returned to Cincinnati and worked as a professor of physiology at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine. Edmund also served as a Major in World War I. He passed away in 1934 from a heart attack, three years after his father died. Leonard’s other son Leonard Jr. “Teddy” (1893-1980) became secretary, general manager and then president of Excelsior Laundry. In his youth, he served as a First Lieutenant in World War I, being enlisted from the summer of 1917 until the summer of 1919. Prior to his military service, he attended the University of Cincinnati where he was a well-known fullback and captain for UC’s football team from 1912-1915. He later played for the Cincinnati Celts at Redland Field. While disputed by some of his contemporary UC football team members, legend says that the UC Bearcats got their mascot from Teddy Baehr. In one game during 1915, as UC was losing to the University of Kentucky’s Wildcats, one person decided to excite fans by shouting, “They may be Wildcats but we have a Baehrcat!” Some later said the team name came from a cartoon depicting Teddy Baehr on the field next to a Stutz Bearcat automobile in 1914.
Louis Friedman’s Fancy Goods
Beginning in 1910, Louis Friedman operated his “fancy goods” business from 65 Elder—then renumbered to the current address of 129 W. Elder. His chinaware and crockery store, originally named the Racket Store, remained at the building through Prohibition. Just prior to Louis’ business, Blocks’ 5-Cent and 10-Cent store was at 129 W. Elder, as the following newspaper ad showed. Blocks was also located downtown at the Sixth Street Market and in Newport, Kentucky. By 1909, though, the building needed another tenant. Louis Friedman filled that void. Born in 1883 to David and Sarah (Meyer) Friedman, Louis Friedman was a Russian (or Lithuanian) Jewish immigrant who came to the U.S. in the early 1890s, as did many other Jewish immigrants fleeing oppression in tsarist Russia. He initially lived with the Franks, a large Russian family who had recently immigrated, on Court Street. The head of that household, Daniel Frank, was a huckster, and his children worked in the cigar industry—a profession that Louis joined them in as a young adult. A Yiddish speaker by preference, Louis moved on to start his own family after he wed Dora Pouchin in the fall of 1904. He and Dora raised three children in Cincinnati, including Sadie, Helen and Paul, as the two of them worked together to run the chinaware business. The Friedmans lived at 129 W. Elder as they sold goods there. By the late 1920s, Louis moved his business to Corryville. The store fixtures and equipment at 129 W. Elder were then advertised for sale in local papers. Louis and his wife both passed away in 1937, within weeks of each other: Louis on April 5th and Dora on May 11th. They were buried side by side at the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Cemetery in Covedale.
The Hutzler Legacy at Findlay Market
After the Friedmans, midway through the Great Depression, 129 W. Elder had another resident—Julius E. Hutzler (1882-1966) and his variety store. Julius and then his great nephews ran the business there until the early 1980s. The youngest in a large family, Julius was born in 1882 in Ohio to affluent (and successful) German parents Henry (1842-1921) and Caroline Carrie Margaret (Wittenberg) (1842-1932). He grew up in Over-the-Rhine with his siblings—Harry (1873-1955), Walter (1877-1945) and Emma (1879-1933)—and his half-siblings Herman (1868-1923) and Albert (1871-1943) from his mother’s first marriage. Julius’ father Henry, after immigrating in the 1850s, ran a notions store at 116 W. Elder at Findlay Market (he also owned this building). As a young man—tall with blue eyes and blond hair—Julius worked with his father there. Just before World War I, Henry retired and moved out of Over-the-Rhine to 3235 Bishop Street in the Clifton Gaslight District. Julius’ older brother Walter inherited the Findlay Market property at 116 W. Elder, running the notions store there after Henry’s retirement. Henry then passed away in 1921. Like his brother, Julius also got involved in Findlay Market property when he opened his variety store at 129 W. Elder during the Great Depression. As he operated his shop there from the 1930s until the 1960s, he lived on Bishop Street with his family members. Julius never married. He passed away in 1966 and was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery, yet the Hutzler legacy at Findlay Market continued with his brother’s family. Julius’ brother Walter married Katherine (Brach) (1880-1931) in 1902 and they had two sons Henry Louis (1903-1949) and Walter (1905-1988) and a daughter Ruth (1909-1918). (Walter later remarried; he wed a woman named Edith (1893-1976) in 1929). The eldest son, Henry, married Sarah (Dragoo) (1904-1962) and they had two sons—Henry E. (1928-2013) and Robert L. (1932-)—who got involved in Findlay Market by the late 20th century after Julius had passed away.
More Recently at 129 W. Elder
After growing up at Findlay Market—city directories listed them living at 129 W. Elder—these brothers ran the Hutzler China and Glass Company at both 129 and 131 W. Elder through the early 1980s. After housing a bakery in the early 1980s, 129 W. Elder sat vacant until 2014. Like its neighboring buildings, 129 W. Elder was purchased by master Greek sculptor Eleftherios Karkadoulis and his wife Mercene under their company, Karkadoulias Bronze Art Inc. Eleftherios and Mercene were well-known artists (particularly, in bronze statue rehabilitation), having refurnished the Tyler Davidson Fountain on Fountain Square. The couple got involved in real estate in the 1980s, purchasing as many as thirty lots by 1985. In the fall of 1995, the building caught fire, resulting in injury to the attending fireman. As it sat vacant and further delipidated, the City of Cincinnati purchased 129 W. Elder, as it did for many of the nearby Elder Street Findlay Market buildings. In the summer of 2014, the Picton family’s Maverick Chocolate opened its doors at 129 W. Elder. Husband Paul, wife Marlene and their sons Scott and Benjamin are behind this business, Ohio’s first bean-to-bar chocolate shop, complete with handmade and retrofitted equipment.