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Old house gets new lease on life

Owners with historic sense build nearby homes as complement

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The landmark house of Hayden's Addition - the Arlingstall-May House on West Street in the city's historic district - sparkles with fresh paint. Its red fir floors shine.

The house, built in 1901, sits on part of the community's second annexation of land called Hayden's Addition. It occurred in 1804 during the town's infancy.

The work of Patti May, 53, and her son, Dan, 26, to restore the house is complete. The mother-and-son team of developers is tackling construction of seven more homes on the 1.9-acre site west of Montgomery Road, a block from the city's downtown business district.

Last November, when Mrs. May learned a developer was about to buy the property and raze the house, she stepped in and bought it for $215,000.

''I'm vice chair of the (city's) Landmark Commission and when I was told they were trying to sell . . . and plans were to tear it down, we negotiated a sale for the whole property to save the house,'' including the 75-year-old Norway spruce that dominates the yard, Mrs. May said.

To restore it and make it complement the other houses planned for the development, the Mays - whose company is Ireland-May Ltd. - had to tear off part of the rear of the house, where moisture from a cistern had caused damage. They enlarged the area to create a bigger kitchen and bath, Dan May said.

The house is for sale for $225,000. It was originally the home of George Arlingstall, who built it for his bride, Alice, as a wedding gift, Mrs. May said.

''We have had to upgrade the house somewhat to make sure the modern amenities are in it without compromising its charm,'' Dan May said.

Preparation of the rest of the land for development required an outlay of $500,000 to build a sewer line and drainage basin on the north end of the site.

One of the other seven homes - two are sold - is under construction by Eagle Contracting, a Kenwood company under contract to the Mays.

''All of the new houses, on quarter-acre lots, will be built in period styles . . . such as colonial and federal designs . . . from the mid-1800s to the turn of the century. Actually, the style of the old (landmark) house will be the 'newest' design,'' Dan May said.

They will sell for $300,000 to $400,000 and meet building requirements for homes in the city's historic Heritage District.

''This is the essence of the type of development we like to see around our heritage district here. Patti has taken a historical building, is re-doing it as well as putting additional housing around the downtown and doing it with historic (period) styles that fit in beautifully, '' Mayor Ivan Silverman said.

''Remember, what really makes Montgomery what it is, and sets it asside, is preservation of the historic nature of our downtown. This is just right on target with what we are looking for.''

Developing homes in a historic district requires character and charm in style and construction, Mr. May said.

''We use the term 'vintage style'. We went into this wanting to make homes with character. They are more costly, but each home is specifically designed for each lot and each has different landscaping.''