by Nora J. Probasco
DESCRIPTION OF HENRY PROBASCO'S OAKWOOD HOME
D. J. Kenny, Illustrated Guide to Cincinnati and The World’s Columbian Exposition, The Pacific Publishing Co., St. Louis, MO, 1893, pp. 217-221
Residence Of Henry Probasco. On Lafayette avenue is situated the home and grounds of Henry Probasco, the gentleman who presented Cincinnati with the great fountain. They are the finest in the suburbs of Cincinnati. The grounds are spacious and varied in their attractions, and the house rich in all that delights the eye.
The house is constructed of blue limestone. The quoins, angles and buttresses are of freestone, each piece of which is hammer-marked to make it harmonize with the rough limestone. The walls are of rubble-work, the face of the stone having been untouched by chisel or hammer. The general style is Anglo-Norman. It is one hundred and twenty feet long by seventy in width, fronting southwardly. In front is a massive stone terrace, which extends the entire length of the building. The house is entered through a magnificent stone porch, with elegant Norman arches. At the northeast end of the edifice is a porte cochere, constructed of freestone, and the building is surmounted by a round tower, which
springs from the walls of the main stairway. The whole external appearance of the building is one of spaciousness without useless room, of dignity without coldness, of variety without the loss of harmony.
Running through the building from the main porch is the grand hall, seventy by fifteen feet. This is wainscoted with oak, cedar and white pine, and ceiled with white pine, and oak. These materials are all finished in the highest degree.
Intersecting the main hall on the right, as you enter the building from the front, is a side hall, capacious, though of less width than the principal one. This leads directly to the porte cochere. From this hall two large arched doors lead, the one to the north into the library, the other to the south into the parlor.
Immediately opposite the library is the parlor, a room thirty by twenty-four feet, entered from the side hall through a massive circular doorway of exquisite workmanship. The room itself, independent of its expensive pictures, its rare mosaics, and its superb furniture, is a work of art. The cornice is of varied finish, and in the ceiling there is a wonderful combination of colors and shades. This room contains two massive bay windows, which are approached through arches of oak, supported by highly polished pillars of the same material. The soffit of the arch in the front bay window is embellished throughout its length with a representation of the honeysuckle carved in oak, which is a work of rare perfection. The capitals of the pillars are also carved to harmonize with the remainder of the work.
The reception room, dining-room and bed chambers are all in unison with the remainder of the house. The stairway is a superb design and a triumph of mechanical skill. The wood work of the kitchen and laundry, like the remainder of the house, even to the sash of the windows, is of solid oak. Mr. Probasco's ample grounds are in keeping with the house erected upon them. The improvement of them was begun immediately after the purchase; and the present perfect state, with the gentle slopes, the gradual rise and fall of the surface, has been attained by years of labor and large expenditure.
Deep ravines have been filled, elevations cut down and inequalities reconciled, until the present grounds bear no resemblance to their condition thirty-five years ago. Besides the beautiful lawns which surround Mr. Probasco's residence, he has almost every thing in the shape of shade and ornamental trees. In addition to the forest trees of America, he has a large collection of foreign beech, ash, oak, elm and maple, and a valuable collection of evergreens, gathered from various countries of the globe. The Pyrenees, the Himalayas and the Rocky Mountains have each made their contribution.
Besides these, Mr. Probasco has a rosarium, in which he has four thousand roses. He has also a beautiful collection of variegated-leaf plants and hardy shrubs, together with many hardy ferns. This is a meager description of the floral beauties of this place. If space would permit, there could be given a formidable list of plants and flowers which the forests and gardens of the world have contributed. To complete the rare attractions of Mr. Probasco's place, he enjoys to the full extent the splendid panorama of the valley to the northward from his residence; thus combining in one home, the charming attractions of nature with the rich contributions of literature and art.
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