Twenty Mile Stand Two Years On

tmhcurrent2It was two years ago today that a nearly two centuries old stagecoach stop named for its distance from Cincinnati was demolished. When I first wrote about the building in early 2012, it was still standing. That article included a photo taken from the same position as the one at right. That photo can be seen here. The row of shops in the more recent picture were there in 2012. They were just blocked from view by the old roadhouse.

tmhcurrent0The stage stop turned roadhouse turned restaurant turned night club was leveled on April 16, 2013, to make way for a convenience store. The new business opened a few months later. That’s it, a Big Mike’s Gas N Go with Shell brand gas, in the picture at left. Big Mike is Mike Schueler, president of Henkle Schueler and Associates the real estate outfit behind all of this.

tmhcurrent1Twenty Mile House, Cincinnati, OhioI don’t have a 2012 photo from the spot of the previous picture but I do have one from nearby. I’ve paired it with one taken Tuesday from essentially the same location. The 2012 shot includes the entire Twenty Mile House but the only part of Big Mike’s that shows up in the recent shot is a standalone sign. Hmmm.

tmhgoogle2012tmhgoogle2013tmhgoogleb1Here’s a different view. Thanks to Google Earth and its Historic Imagery feature, we can see what the lot looked like on August 29, 2012 (the first picture) and October 10, 2013 (the second picture). The third picture is a blend of the first two and shows a new light rectangle where a portion of the older structure once stood. That rectangle is a concrete slab containing a half dozen or so parking places. Those parking places clearly could not exist without removing a corner of one of the twentieth century additions.

tmhgoogleb2I don’t think even the most preservation minded among us cared one bit about any part of those additions but what about the original early nineteenth century building? You could say I’m beating a dead house here but I did one more thing. I outlined what I believe to be the original historically significant portion of the building and overlaid just that on the 2013 image. A slightly rough estimate of the distance between roadhouse and parking pad is 25 yards. There’s maybe 50 yards between roadhouse and gas pump or convenience store.

tmhcurrent3Big Mike’s convenience store fills most of the new building but a little space still remains. Good thing for Mike his nice big empty lawn has room for this decorative sign.

My 2012 post on the standing building is here. The 2013 post on its destruction is here.

2014 in the Rear View

The year in numbers with 2013 values in parentheses:

  • 7 (6) = Road trips reported
  • 80 (77) = Blog posts
  • 77 (57) = Days on the road
  • 1972 (1437) = Pictures posted — 384 (406) in the blog and 1588 (1031) in Road Trips

htv50s_cvrrWhen days on the road increase, an increase in pictures posted is sure to follow. Last year an additional twenty road days yielded an additional 557 road trip pictures. 35% more days resulted in 54% more photos. Blog pictures decreased slightly. In addition to the 52 regular weekly blog posts, there were 16 reviews, 7 road trip links, and 5 miscellaneous asynchronous posts. The number two and three blog posts from 2013 moved up to one and two. Last year’s most visited post stayed in the top five at number four leaving just two of the top five slots for new posts. The most popular item posted in 2014 was the review of an ebook.

Top Blog Posts:

  1. My Wheels – Chapter 1 1960 J. C. Higgins Flightliner
    When I started the My Wheels series of articles on vehicles I’ve owned, I really had cars and motorcycles in mind and started the series with a bicycle as something of a lark. It stands today as testament to just how bad a prognosticator I am. It was the most popular new post of 2013 and the second most popular overall. This year it moves on top. Hardly a day goes by without at least one visit to the article and there are usually several. Most are from search engines and I don’t believe many of the readers stick around for much of anything else but it appears that a lot of people had, have, or dreamed of having J. C. Higgins Flightliners.
  2. Route 66 Attractions
    This review appears in the top five for the third time moving from fifth to third to second. The subject is a GPS based product for tracing Route 66.
  3. How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips
    The most popular new post of 2014 was a review of a free ebook. Terri Weeks wrote the book partly to promote her website and a “real” book, Adventures Around Cincinnati, she co-wrote with Laura Hoevener. I suspect Terri and her friends sent as many readers to the post as the search engines did and that’s OK by me.
  4. Twenty Mile’s Last Stand
    After two years at number one, this article on an endangered historic building dropped to fourth. The building was demolished more than a year ago so I’m not surprised that the ranking dropped but I am a little surprised — and a lot delighted — that it still cracked the top five. I’d like to think it and the post on the demolition (Roadhouse Down) are being used as cautionary tales to help save other buildings. A gas station has been built on the corner where the building stood. There is absolutely nothing within the building’s actual footprint.
  5. Don’t Worry Be Hoppy — or Gene or Roy or…
    This is the report of my visit to the Hopalong Cassidy Festival in Cambridge, Ohio. I’m thinking that, like me, some of those Flightliner fans are also Hopalong fans.

Top Non-Blog Posts:

  1. Englewood
    For several years, an oddment page on a 2006 visit to the site of the town of Tadmor was the most popular pages on the site due largely to a reference in a Wikipedia article on ghost towns. The link never seemed all that appropriate (I had not placed it.) and I believe it has been removed. That post ranked seventh this year. This post describes a visit to Englewood Park that took place a week following my visit to Tadmor. Both parks contain dams on the National Road but I have no theory on why this post shot to the top in 1014.
  2. AMA Hall of Fame Museum
    This Oddment page covers a 2010 visit to the museum. I have no guesses as to what brought the increased interest this year. At four years old, it is the most recent item to make 2014’s non-blog top five list. Last year only one article from 2013 made the list. Does that mean I’ve already covered everything worth covering and that I might as well stop posting new journal entries? Maybe, but I won’t.
  3. Natchez Christmas
    This is the journal of my 2006 Christmas trip which included driving the full length of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Day 5, which involved a visit to the Vicksburg National Military Park seemed to be the main focus so the visits may have come from an interest in the Civil War.
  4. Kentucky Short Loop
    This was a rather spontaneous 2004 day trip to Kentucky with nothing in it that suggests why it became an attraction in 2014. There is, however, an odd coincidence connected to it. One of the things I do whenever I’m unable to post a new blog entry on Sunday is post a canned “Trip Peek”. These are short articles pointing to completed trips. On January 4, the first Sunday of the year when I should have posted this look back, I was on the road and had to use a canned article. Four days after these rankings were frozen and before I’d actually looked at them, the randomly selected article posted was the Kentucky Short Loop “Trip Peek”.
  5. Lincoln Highway West
    The 2009 trip on which I clinched the Lincoln Highway for the first time completes the top five and I’ve no idea why. The focus seemed to be on a day spent in Iowa and I’m pretty sure I can’t attribute that to Civil War interest.

Visits to the website increased to 248,033 from 170,809 last year and page views rose to 741,404 from 467,084. WordPress’ Jetpack reports 8,062 views (up from 6,863) for the blog in 2014.

The increases are modest. Heck, the total traffic is modest, but I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t object to a little more feedback but that’s not the same as being unhappy. I’m a little disappointed that nothing I added to the journal in 2014 generated more interest than stuff from 2010 and earlier but I’m definitely not unhappy about that. It’s rather nice, in fact, that four and more year old articles still get read. I made no structural changes in the website in 2014 and I anticipate none in 2015. From here, it looks like another non-jiggy year has just begun.

2013 in the Rear View

The year in numbers with 2012 values in parentheses:

  • 0 (5) = Oddment pages posted
  • 6 (8) = Road trips reported
  • 77 (77) = Blog posts
  • 57 (76) = Days on the road
  • 1437 (2254) = Pictures posted — 406 (388) in the blog, 0 (131) in Oddments, and 1031 (1735) in Road Trips

jch_revClearly, I was quite the slacker last year. It didn’t feel like it but there’s the proof. Less of almost everything. Oddments were added in 2004 as a way to post non-road trip stuff. They felt a little redundant from the minute the blog was added in 2011 and I finally stopped doing them in 2013. There would not, apparently, have been many of them anyway since turning them into blog posts sure didn’t make the number of those shoot up. Total blog posts stayed exactly the same with regular weekly posts accounting for 52, reviews accounting for 12, and the remaining 13 coming from road trips and other asynchronous events. The 2011 and 2012 Rear Views contained rants about how crummy blog traffic statistics are. I’ll skip the rant this year and move onto the top five lists.

Top Blog Posts:

  1. Twenty Mile’s Last Stand
    A 2012 article on an endangered historic building that ranked number one last year, too. This year’s attention was no doubt due to the building being leveled in April. An article on the demolition, Roadhouse Down, actually came in fourth for 2013 but I’m referencing it here rather than as a list entry.
  2. My Wheels – Chapter 1 1960 J. C. Higgins Flightliner
    In 2013, I started a series of articles on all the vehicles I’ve owned and the first post in the series became the most popular new post of the year.
  3. Route 66 Attractions
    This 2012 review of a GPS based product for tracing Route 66 moved to third after ranking fifth last year.
  4. Ohio’s Revolutionary War Battle
    The popularity of this article on the Battle of Picawey probably comes from mentioning George Rogers Clark, Tecumseh, and the War of 1812 all on the same page.
  5. Chili All Week and It’s Cold, Too.
    A report on eating at a different Cincinnati chili parlor each day for a week. A subsequent article, 5 More 4s, covered five additional parlors though those visits were not on consecutive days. Note that this post would have been bumped from the top five if I had allowed both Twenty Mile House items to claim a place. That’s why I did what I did, of course. I like this article and, in this teeny tiny bit of cyberspace, I’m the boss.

Top Non-Blog Posts:

  1. Tadmor
    Oddment page on a 2006 visit to the site of the town of Tadmor that also ranked first in 2011 and second in 2012. I believe traffic is largely from a Wikipedia article on ghost towns but a mention and link on Jim Grey’s Down the Road blog also accounts for quite a few visitors..
  2. Cincinnati Summer of Love Reunion
    Oddment page on a 2007 concert featuring area performers from 1967. The Lemon Pipers, Sacred Mushroom, Tony and the Bandits, and Haymarket Riot were all represented and I suspect each accounts for some of the traffic as do some of the individuals mentioned.
  3. The 2010 Fair at New Boston
    Oddment page on the 2010 version of an annual recreation of the 1790s. It is held at the same site talked about in Ohio’s Revolutionary War Battle, the fourth ranking blog post and the two probably share visitors.
  4. Lincoln Highway Centennial Tour
    The highest ranking non-blog and non-oddment (pseudo-blog) page was the base page for the year’s biggest trip, the 35 day coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway drive. This is also the only item in the non-blog list that was a new post this year.
  5. High Speed Privies
    Oddment page on the 2004 running of the Great Outhouse Race at Penn’s Store in Kentucky. It once contained a clear nude photo taken at the store for Playboy that generated some traffic. The photo has long been obscured but searches related to it are clearly what brought the visitors. I have no idea what triggered the renewed interest.

Visits to the website increased to 170,809 from 91,233 last year and page views rose to 467,084 from 337,996. WordPress’ Jetpack reports 6,863 views (up from 5,965) for the blog in 2013.

I ended last year’s Rear View with a prediction that I would not “get very jiggy in 2013” then proceeded to make the prediction come true. The closest thing to a website change last year was the decision to not add any more Oddment entries and that did not result in any actual alterations. What’s there will remain and it’s possible I could turn to that method again someday if something comes along that doesn’t fit the blog format. .

Roadhouse Down

Twenty Mile House demolitionYes, this post is a bit unusual. It’s not a regularly scheduled Sunday post and, although it is a Wednesday, it’s not one of the reviews that are often posted on that day. Nor is it the “real-time” announcement of the start of a road trip. This post concerns the Tuesday destruction of the 191 year old Twenty Mile House that was also the subject of a post in early 2012.

Twenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionThe first of the two pictures at left was actually taken Monday evening. In recent days, there had been reports from Friends of 20 Mile House that demolition was imminent. It was reported on Monday that fence was being erected around the building and I drove by at the end of the day fearing that the tear down had already started. It hadn’t. When I read of the arrival of men and equipment on Tuesday morning, I once again headed toward the old landmark expecting to see mayhem in progress. I arrived with the building still intact but it wouldn’t be for long. The picture at the top of the article was taken at 9:05.

Twenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionThe demolition proceeded rapidly and, despite the unhappy circumstances, it was impossible not to admire the skill of the operator as he worked his machine through the building. The additions of various ages went down first and, even though I certainly knew better, I kept hoping that something would happen to spare the 1822 heart of the building.

Twenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionThen, in what looked to be as much accidental as planned, a corner fell away when an attached piece of a newer section was removed. One end of the old stagecoach stop was open and my foolish hopes were gone when the workers broke for lunch.

Twenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionNot long after the men returned, there was an almost ceremonial toppling of one of the old chimneys and destruction of the original section began in earnest.

Twenty Mile House demolitionTwenty Mile House demolitionA second excavator had been brought in and it played the role of buttress as the oldest parts were brought down. At last there was just one section of wall standing with enough height to warrant attention. It was quickly leveled with a simple shove from the second machine.

Twenty Mile House demolitionRoughly six hours had passed since the first blow; A one hour lunch and five hours of destruction. A little less than two hours were spent leveling the section that had stood for a little less than two centuries. A Big Mike’s Gas N Go is to replace the rubble and I’ve no doubt that it will be constructed with the same level of efficiency as that with which the rubble was created. No one I know has any intention of ever spending a cent there but those people weren’t enough to save the Twenty Mile House and they probably won’t be enough to even get Big Mike’s attention in any significant way. There are more than enough people who don’t know or don’t appreciate history to make Mike some money. Big Mike’s will likely be profitable. It will never be loved.

Twenty Mile’s Last Stand

Twenty Mile House, Cincinnati, OhioThe first time I entered the Twenty Mile House it was smaller and younger and so was I. I was in my twenties so perhaps could even be considered young in absolute terms. Not so the building. The part on the right was built in 1822. Some or all of a building that stood here in 1804 might even be included in there somewhere. The road was smaller then too. It was small enough that cars parked between it and the building where those shrubs are now. The main entrance was through a street facing door that has long been locked and sealed. Some details of the first time I stepped through that door remain clear. The bar was against the far wall. I’m not entirely sure what was to my left; Probably some tables and chairs. I don’t recall the huge fireplace that I now know fills the east wall so am guessing that it was covered at the time. To my right was a jukebox and a hardwood dance floor that sat on top of the “normal” floor. Les Paul & Mary Ford’s version of How High the Moon was playing. That recording is almost as old as me.

Twenty Mile House, Cincinnati, OhioThe building started out as an inn and stagecoach stop some twenty miles from the center of Cincinnati. It seems to have been successful in that role. And it must have been somewhat successful as some sort of road side stop as the stage route became Montgomery Road and Ohio Route 3 and the 3C Highway and US Route 22. I don’t really know whether the outside of the building changed much during its first century and a half. I do know it hasn’t changed in any material way in the many years since. The inside, however, has changed considerably and additions have been made until the structure I remember from the early 1970s makes up maybe a third of the total. A recent sales flyer includes a diagram of the building in which I believe the area labeled “Bar & Lounge” is the original structure. Perhaps there is a version of the “Peter Principle” that applies to restaurants. Something like: “A successful eating establishment will expand to a size just beyond what the customer base can support.” This was an extremely successful restaurant and night spot through the seventies and eighties. That’s when the additions were made and every occupant since then has had that huge capacity — and overhead — to deal with.

Twenty Mile House, Cincinnati, OhioIn my mind, the sprawling additions have been a factor in the failure of various restaurants to make a go of it but it’s hard to say just how big a factor. The most recent tenant may have actually found all that space attractive. That was a business called Red Rock Tavern and it advertised itself more as a music venue than as a restaurant. It didn’t last long but it left its mark. They painted the building red. Some previous tenant had mounted a scrolling electric sign board on the corner of the building. It’s still there in the picture in the real estate flyer. The Red Rock folks painted around it so that removing it left a scar like stripe. Rumor has it that the kitchen was pretty much stripped at the same time.

The red paint and the grey “scar” provide an ugly building to go along with an ugly situation. Speedway, the gas station chain, found the location, if not the building, attractive. They want to demolish the building and put in a gas station and convenience store. An offer was made but there was a hitch. The property is at the corner of Columbia Road and US 22. There is an entrance on both roads but Speedway stated that it needed an entrance from Columbia much closer to the corner than the existing one. That would be a violation of Warren County access management regulations. The existing entrance is, in fact, closer than current regulations permit but was grandfathered in. This is truly a safety concern in the minds of many and the county engineer has refused to grant an exception.

Beyond this it gets pretty muddled. Apparently the county commissioners and possibly even the Deerfield Township commissioners have the power to overrule the engineer. They haven’t done so and have become the target of a lawsuit by Jeff Black, the building’s owner. They have also become the target of many local residents who feel they should buy the building to preserve it or somehow otherwise firmly block the development. I have no idea how all this fits with the fact that, late last year, Speedway submitted plans that omitted the entrance change.

I’ve come to the game embarrassingly and frighteningly late. I heard of the situation months ago but did nothing other than sign an electronic petition. I marked my calendar for a zoning committee meeting a couple of weeks ago but blew it off for something else. On Tuesday I did attend a township commissioner meeting but it was almost immediately apparent that the meeting was rather meaningless in regards to the fate of the Twenty Mile House. It was a chance for residents to relate how much they liked the old building and tell how its destruction would be a great loss but the commissioners had already come out firmly against buying the property which seemed to be the only method available to them to actually prevent the proposed demolition. For the record, I am not a resident of the county or township involved. I live at the edge of Hamilton County. Warren County and Deerfield Township are two streets and 300 yards from my front door.

Twenty Mile House, Cincinnati, OhioI can’t even guess at what might happen next. I only know that I’ll be watching. I suppose that part of the reason for making this post is the hope that it might get a few more people watching, too. Several articles here offer glimpses of what has already transpired and the post and replies here offer glimpses of what once was. The petition I mentioned is here though, like almost all online petitions, it has no legal standing. I am aware of two Facebook connections. One is a fan page which may signal its attitude in its title, Save 20 Mile House – Boycott Speedway. The fact that there has so far been only something to be against and nothing to be for can be seen in the name. The other is a group whose name, Friends of 20 mile house, is less abrasive. Fans of the page and members of the group overlap heavily. Hopefully someone will come up with a better plan than lying down in front of bulldozers. On the other hand, I attended that commission meeting with a sixty year old Deerfield Township resident whose mother, knowing his feelings on the matter, cautioned him to “not get arrested”. It could happen.

UPDATE: 27-Mar-2012 – As reported here, Speedway has withdrawn its offer to purchase the 20 Mile House. That is merely a short reprieve as the historic building is still for sale and financial pressures on the current owner have not gone away. Taking advantage of the breather, the previously mentioned Friends of 20 mile house Facebook group has formed a non-profit corporation using the name Friends of The Twenty Mile House. This will allow fund  raising and provide focus for locating and assisting preservation minded purchasers.

UPDATE: 1-May-2013 – Time ran out for the Twenty Mile House. The property was sold in March, a demolition permit issued, remaining fixtures were sold in an online auction, and, on April 16, the building was leveled. A blog entry on the demolition was posted here the next day. The order for destruction came from Henkle Schueler & Associates who plan to build a Big Mike’s Gas n Go at the location. In justifying the unpopular action, the company has used silly phrases like “its historical significance can be measured in the physical location, not in its structure” and referred to the gas station as “a place for those traveling through the area to refuel and gather provisions” and called this a continuation of past use. I think they may have invented the phrase “functionally demolished” to describe a building with furniture and fixtures removed. The idea that Henkle Schueler thinks people who cared about the place believe this is insulting. The idea that they may actually believe it themselves is frightening.