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Mount Lookout, Cincinnati, Looking Toward the Little Miami River with the Hills of Kentucky Beyond, 1853
Edward Beyer (1820 – 1865)

View Artist Bio
Oil on canvas
20 x 30 inches
Signature Details: E. Beyer 1853
Status: Available


Investigation of an Edward Beyer Painting

August 2, 2022


This report was prepared by Beth Sullebarger for Robert Hicklin, Jr, proprietor of Charleston Renaissance Gallery, to investigate the location depicted in a painting by Edward Beyer (1820-1865). Best known for his mid-nineteenth century views of Virginia, Beyer was born in the German Rhineland in 1820. After training at the Dusseldorf Academy and work in Dresden, he emigrated to the United States circa 1848. According to Mr. Hicklin, Beyer was “one of the earliest professional landscape artists in the nation, producing scenes in a precise and detailed topographical style informed by his classical training.” Beyer was known to have lived in Cincinnati in the early 1850s. His panoramic painting of the Cincinnati riverfront, painted in 1853, is in the collection of the Dayton Art Institute.


Figure 1: Painting by Edward Beyer, circa 1853


The painting shows a country house on a flat promontory overlooking a valley. Approached by a carriageway with a circular turnaround, the house is a picturesque villa built of limestone with asymmetrical massing and a steeply pitched roof. Typical of the Gothic Revival villa popularized by A. J. Downing in the mid-19th century, the house features angled bays with multi-light windows, porches and dormers with decorative verge boards, and a hexagonal tower. To the left and rear of the house is an outbuilding that appears to be a greenhouse, characteristic of substantial country estates.  The view of the valley below includes the bend of a river, farm fields and hills in the distance. A residence of such proportions with such a broad view indicates the owner was of some means.


Research began with considering the topography of the site.  A client suggested to Mr. Hicklin that the view in the painting resembled that seen from Ault Park, which is located on a promontory at the east end of Observatory and Principio Avenues in the Mount Lookout neighborhood of Cincinnati. Established in 1911 with the donation by Levi Ault and his wife of “150 acres that included five old homesteads” the park offers a spectacular view. (Bicentennial Guide to Greater Cincinnati, 364) A visit to Ault Park revealed a similar view to that in the painting, including a long floodplain with hills on the far side extending to the Ohio River in the distance on the right.


Figure 2. View looking south from Heekin Overlook in Ault Park on July 5, 2022

An examination of a topographic map (Figure 3) confirms the most likely view in the painting is the one looking south down the long floodplain of the Little Miami River and terminating in hills  on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. The painting  includes a road that could correspond to the present-day Ohio Pike (Route 125), seen on the map below. 


Figure 3. Topographical map indicating the vista from Ault Park south to the Ohio River

Historic maps and deeds

The next step was to look at historic maps and deeds for clues as to large properties on the edge of hill in the vicinity of Ault Park. A Map of Hamilton County, Ohio prepared by Wm. D. Emerson in 1847 (Figure 4) included a large property in that location with the name “Chapman” next to an icon of a dwelling. A deed search indicated the property belonged to Louisa Ann and William S. Chapman. It is not known at present when the Chapmans acquired this land, but a 1959 newspaper article describes Louisa’s property as the 1315-acre Linwood Farm. Further research was done to locate where on that farm such a prominent dwelling might have been.


Figure 4. A Map of Hamilton County, Ohio by Wm. D. Emerson, 1847, collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County


In 1847, the Chapmans began to plan the sale of some of their property while keeping a reserve for their residence. With the assistance of Israel Wilson, her trustee, Louisa Ann Chapman, had a plat made for a subdivision of 13 lots on 42 ½ acres that were part of Linwood Farm. The subdivision was surveyed on June 15, 1848, by D. Lapham, and the boundaries of the whole tract were taken from a survey made by John L. Hosbrook for W. S. Chapman on September 24, 1847. The subdivision was recorded on July 14, 1848, including a plat in Deed Book 134, pages 357-359 (Figure 5). The lots in the first subdivision were on the eastern slope of the hill rather than on the top, but the plat includes a reference to “Linn Wood Cottage” in the upper left on the hilltop (Figure 5a). The location of that cottage appears to be within Ault Park but could be merely schematic. It is unclear whether it is the house in the painting because it is set away from the edge of the hill.


Figure 5. 1848 Plat of Chapman’s 1st Subdivision, Hamilton County Deed Book 134, pages 357-359


Figure 5a. Detail of “Linn Wood Cottage,” encircled on plat of Chapman’s 1st Subdivision, above


Figure 6. 1851 Plat of Chapman’s 2nd  Subdivision, Hamilton County Plat Book 1, page 139,with “Chapman Reserve,” encircled

A second subdivision of Linwood of Chapman land, drawn on July 3, 1851, was recorded in Plat Book 1, page 139, on April 29, 1852 (Figure 6).  Notably, this subdivision held back a 28-acre “Chapman Reserve,” in the southwest part of the plat. This reserve was likely the location of the Chapman residence. (The road marked as “Linn St” is the present-day Heekin Road.) The Chapman Reserve is in the same location as a 27.50-acre parcel marked on the 1865 map (Figure 7) with the name Israel Wilson, Trustee. A 1959 newspaper clipping (appended) explains that the village of Linwood was originally Louisa Ann Chapman’s 1315-acre Linwood Farm and that “a 160-acre addition made by William S. Chapman north of the later Town Hall was called Linwood Heights.” That area, indicated in green on the 1865 map by R. C. Phillips, corresponds to the Chapman Reserve and the two subdivisions.


Figure 7. Excerpt from A Map of Hamilton County, Ohio, by R. C. Phillips, 1865, collection of the Cincinnati History Library & Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center

On May 14, 1864, Louisa A. Chapman, her trustee Israel Wilson, and husband William S. Chapman sold 8.13 acres in the former Chapman Reserve to Cynthia Elizabeth Brooks for $15, 060.50 (Recorded in Deed Book 297, Pages 410-412). At this time, the Chapmans gave up their Linwood home and moved to Winton Place, where her father had property just east of Spring Grove Cemetery (where Louisa and William are buried).

Cynthia and her husband, Frederick F. Brooks, enjoyed living in the Linwood house only a short while before he subsequently advertised the Chapman home for sale in the Cincinnati Commercial on April 16, 1866 (Figure 8). (The Williams City Directory of that year lists him as proprietor of the Queen City Varnish Company at 43 Vine Street and residing at 351 West 4th Street in downtown Cincinnati.) The advertisement described a substantial country residence with fifteen or sixteen rooms and “well-known to many prominent citizens. . .” It continues, “The house is on the hill, and overlooks the Little Miami Valley,” and the grounds, consisting of eight or nine acres, include “valuable shrubbery, many fine old forest trees on the lawn, an ice-house, wood-house, stable, cow-house and carriage-house.”


Figure 8. Cincinnati Commercial, April 14, 1866, page 14.


This description is consistent with the dwelling in Beyer’s painting of a large home overlooking the Little Miami River valley. (Note that it does not mention a greenhouse, but several other outbuildings are. The Chapmans’ interest in horticulture may have been influential in the marriage of their daughter to Adolf Strauch, the renowned landscape architect. He is famous for having been hired in 1855 to enhance the grounds of Spring Grove Cemetery.)


Figure 8. Excerpt from Atlas of Hamilton County, Ohio, by C. O. Titus, 1869, collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

The question of whether other properties might have had the same scale and features of the Chapman house prompted further examination of the 1869 Titus Atlas of Hamilton County. A property with a looped driveway similar to the one in the Beyer painting appears in the area of Chapman’s 2nd subdivision labeled “Dr. J. Garnetson,” (a misspelling of Garretson). Two articles in 1894 describe how Garretson’s famous old mansion in Linwood burned down, but it was built in 1864, so it cannot have been the residence in the 1853 Beyer painting, and there don’t appear to be other large properties on the brow of the hill that might have had the same view.

Shortly after the advertisement, Frederick F. Brooks and his wife sold the Chapman land, consisting of 8.13 acres, to S. G. Wright (Deed Book 326 Pages 587-589), recorded on June 19, 1866. Wright’s name appears on the property in the 1869 Titus atlas, mistakenly marked as 8.21 acres. A dwelling is indicated close to the road, where the ground falls away. From there a view similar to the one in the painting would have been possible.

From N. Wright, the parcel passed to M. A. Rogers, and in 1884, it was transferred to Jabez Reynolds who sold it to Walter McLymon. The 1884 Map of Hamilton County, Ohio (Figure 9), which indicates significant subdivision since 1869, shows the parcel correctly as 8.13 acres but misspells the owner’s name as W. McSymon. It is not known how long the former Chapman house remained standing. In the early 1900s, Levi Ault began acquiring properties on the hilltop and donating them to create a park, as recommended by the 1907 park plan by landscape architect George Kessler. There were several homes removed in the creation of what became Ault Park, which opened in 1911, but the 8.3-acre property was not among them.  


Figure 9. Excerpt from Map of Hamilton County, Ohio, by Geo. Moessinger & Fred. Bertsch, 1884, collection of the Cincinnati History Library & Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center

Secondary Sources

Research included checking nineteenth-century books describing Cincinnati. Kraemer’s Picturesque Cincinnati, published in 1883, makes no mention of the Chapman farm in Linwood.  D. J. Kenney’s  Illustrated Cincinnati, published in 1875, states that “. . . in the neighborhood of Linwood on the line of the Little Miami Railroad and at Mt. Washington, which is close by, there are many noble residences,” without citing any specifics. Published more than 20 years later than the Beyer painting, after a period of significant subdivision and  development, this statement does not undermine the case for the Chapman property as the location of the house in the Beyer painting, but it confirms Linwood as a desirable area for large homes.


Based on the foregoing research and documentation, it is reasonable to conclude that the residence in the Beyer painting was the home of Louisa A. and William S. Chapman at Linwood in the vicinity of Ault Park in Cincinnati.


Sullebarger Associates

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