Wiedemann Hill Mansion | Charles Wiedemann Mansion
In 1887, George Wiedemann, founder of the George Wiedemann Brewing Company, and his Wife, Agnes, purchased land in Newport’s Cote Brilliante neighborhood from the Miller Family for $18,000. Noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford, whose other works included Cincinnati’s Music Hall, City Hall, Workhouse, Findlay Market and the Wiedemann Brewery, designed the chateauesque mansion and carriage house. James Griffith & Sons were selected as the builders. Unfortunately, George Wiedemann passed away at the age of 67 in 1890 before the Mansion was completed. In 1894 Agnes moved into the Mansion and upon her death the home was deeded to her oldest son, Charles in 1898. Although the home is more commonly known as the Charles Wiedemann Mansion, Agnes Wiedemann’s vision is evident today.
The view from the home extends almost 180 degrees, encompassing Newport and picturesque profiles of Mt. Adams and the Cincinnati skyline in the foreground, Bellevue and Dayton to the East and Covington and the western hills of Cincinnati to the West. The grounds formerly included a greenhouse, swimming pool with a dressing room pavilion, formal rose gardens, statuaries, fountains and vineyards. Today, only the Carriage House which has been restored as a single-family home, remains.
The home now includes 17 rooms, 7 full bathrooms and 2 half baths. The first floor includes a reception room, front parlor, library, dining room, kitchen and butler pantries and is detailed with oak wainscot and grand mantels. A half-bath off of the reception room is tucked under the grand staircase. Each room is finished in different woods including cherry and mahogany and features unique wood inlays in the flooring. The ornate stained glass features German crackle glass and served as the inspiration of the original colors used throughout the home. The only apparent alteration to the original interior was the installation of a three-quarter height Rookwood mantel in the reception room.
The second floor houses four private suites, two one-room and two two-room, each with its own full bath, while the third floor included the ballroom, billiards room and several sleeping rooms. One of the rooms on the second floor originally served as the smoking room and later as a vestment room.
Prior to 1950, the home was struck by lightning and the home caught fire. The smoke damage ruined the original first floor Italian silk wall coverings and toppled a large chimney on the west side of the home that was removed and not rebuilt. A mantel on the second floor was removed and the fireplace sealed after the chimney was capped. Damage from the fire is still evident in the attic where the roof trusses and supports were repaired. The slate roof is supported by a series and large diagonal wood beams tied into a main beam that reaches twenty-five feet from the attic floor. The attic also used to house a very large metal water retention tank that collected rain water and served to provide water pressure to the home.
The basement reveals a stone foundation, brick interior walls, arched doorways, concrete floors and the original coal-fired clothes dryer that remains in place. The room under the Reception Room was used during Prohibition. The two windows that are under the Veranda have steel bars on the inside and outside and the arched doorway was replaced with a steel and concrete door frame and steel door. It is rumored that at one time a tunnel ran from this basement room to a destination in Newport.
The home remained in the Wiedemann Family until 1951 when the Mansion was sold to the Diocese of Covington as a residence for Bishop William Mulloy in 1951. At that time the third floor ballroom was converted to a sanctuary where the Bishop served mass daily. After Bishop Mulloy, the Mansion was briefly occupied by Bishop Ackerman and then by the Christian Brothers who managed the all-boys catholic high school, currently Newport Central Catholic High School. Later the sisters of Our Lady of Providence operated the home as a convent until 1980.
In 1981, Dr. Tom Powell acquired the estate and undertook a three-year restoration project. Dr. Powell resided in the home until 2004 and also used the home to house his production studios and advertising business. Although trained as a dentist, Tom was an entertainer and traveled the globe with his pickpocket/magician and stand-up comedian show. Tom performed on many USO trips and also performed at the White House for President Reagan and in Iran for the Shah. Tom also opened Underground New Orleans, a jazz night club in Cincinnati keeping the jazz culture alive in Cincinnati. Tom sold the carriage house and several acres to a developer and sold the Mansion to the current owners who began an extensive restoration project in January 2005.
All electrical and plumbing mechanics have been replaced, an elevator has been installed and central air conditioning was introduced to the home for the first time. Exterior work included new copper gutters, slate roof repair, porch restoration, brick tuck pointing, a new driveway and extensive landscaping. During the revitalization, several original stencils were uncovered and have been replicated throughout the home. A hand painted tin ceiling is featured in the kitchen and butler pantry and hand painted ornamental ceiling medallions have been added throughout the house.
The owners reside on the third floor in a loft-style suite using space formerly occupied by the ballroom, billiards room and guest and servant bedrooms. There are two bedrooms and three full baths on the third floor.
Wiedemann Family History
George Wiedemann Sr. was born and educated in Saxony, Germany where he learned the brewer’s art by the old world method of apprenticeship. At the age of 19 in 1853, George came to the United States and immediately found employment at a New York brewery. After three months he relocated to Louisville and worked in another brewery for an additional 6 months before relocating to Cincinnati, Ohio. He was truly at home with Cincinnati’s German culture, atmosphere, and large beer drinking population.
In 1870, he became a partner in the Jefferson Street Brewery with John Butcher. In 1878 he purchased Mr. Butcher’s interest for $28,000 and four years later, purchased the Constans Brewery on Monmouth Street. He soon added a malt house, a new brew house and stables. The new brewery produced over 100,000 barrels per year.
In 1856, George married Agnes Rohman and the couple had six children, including two sons. Upon his death in 1890, George and Agnes’ sons, Charles and George Jr., took over management of the brewery. George Jr., who had studied at the famous Munich Academy of Brewing, became Vice President and Superintendent. In his short tenure, George added skylight windows in the roof of the new bottling shop and designed the popular “W” and eagle logo. After a brief illness, he died in 1901 at the age of 35.
Born in Cincinnati on June 16, 1857, Charles Wiedemann attended Cincinnati public schools, St. Xavier College and Nelson’s Business College. In the late 1870’s, Charles went to Munich where he studied the brewing at the Royal College of Bavaria. He returned home to Newport and was named Superintendent of the brewery. Upon his Father’s death in 1890, Charles was named President.
Charles Wiedemann married Miss Elizabeth Wagner, daughter of Adam Wagner, of Newport, on March 18, 1884 and had two children: Irma and Carl Frederick. Mr. and Mrs. Wiedemann worshiped at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Newport. Charles was a 32 Mason, a Knight Templar, a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Elizabeth died suddenly in 1890 and eight years later Charles married Alice Mellinger. After Charles’ death in 1928, Alice remarried Harvey Hannaford Miller.
After studying brewing at several schools in Europe and Chicago, Charles Wiedemann became President of the Wiedemann Brewery at the age of 33. At this time, the Wiedemann Brewery sold three draught beers, “The Standard”, “Bohemian” and “Muenchener Export” throughout the United States, Cuba and the Philippines. The Wiedemann’s were very savvy marketers and built numerous taverns throughout the Greater Cincinnati area to further sell their products. Charles experimented with several other non-alcohol products throughout Prohibition but was arrested along with his son Carl, during raids in February 1927. Charles was fined $10,000 but never appeared in court due to serious health problems that claimed his life in 1928.
His son, Carl, was convicted and spent two years in the Atlanta federal prison. Carl’s true love was horse racing and he built the estate’s pool and pool house with Kentucky Derby winnings while the family vacationed in Europe. Carl was also the owner of In Memoriam, a race horse who defeated Kentucky Derby winner Zev in a stakes race that was called one of the top ten horse races of all time. Carl was quite well known to bar patrons throughout Newport until his death in 1961.
As mentioned above, the brewery brewed three draught beers, “The Standard”, “Bohemian” and “Muenchener Export” that were distributed throughout the United States, Cuba and the Philippines. Later Royal Amber was added and under several blind tastings was named the best beer in America. Wiedemann Brewing Company continued to operate in Newport, KY and was merged with the G. Heileman Brewing Company in 1967. The primary brands were Wiedemann Fine Beer, Royal Amber Beer, Blatz Beer/Cream Ale and other assorted Heileman labels. The brewery was closed in 1983 and later demolished.
The Wiedemann label was then sold and the beer brewed by the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. until 2007 when the brand was dropped.
Wiedemann Beer-A Rebirth
The new Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Co. is dedicated to the great brewing tradition of the original Wiedemann Brewery that produced fine Bohemian-style beers in Newport for more than a century.
Founded in 2012 by local beer enthusiasts Jon and Betsy Newberry, the company reintroduced Wiedemann’s fine beer to the market with the newly crafted Wiedemann’s Special Lager, an American version of the golden Bohemian lagers to which celebrated brew master George Wiedemann paid tribute. The beer, which is relatively low alcohol compared to heavier craft beers, is brewed with several kinds of barley malt and aromatic sterling hops. It’s a thirst-quenching, light-bodied, and flavorful beer designed to drink when you’re having more than one, maybe more than a few. Visit the new Geo. Wiedemann Brewing Co. at www.WiedemannBeer.com.