Friday, June 08, 2001

House bill adjusts Taft property line

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, has been dead for 71 years, but he still has a real estate agent in town.

        His name is U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, and the congressman has been looking out for the interests of the Mount Auburn homestead of Cincinnati's most famous political figure.

[photo] The William Howard Taft National Historical Site occupies about 3 acres in Mount Auburn.
(Enquirer file photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mr. Portman guided through the U.S. House this week a bill allowing the National Park Service, which operates the William Howard Taft National Historic Site at 2038 Auburn Ave., to swap small parcels of land with the neighboring SABIS International School, a move that Mr. Portman said would “more closely reflect the property originally owned by the Taft family.”

        The bill should face no opposition in the Senate, Mr. Portman said.

        Ray Henderson, the National Park Service's chief interpreter at the Taft home, said that the site's visitors' parking area was separated from the half-acre on which the Taft house stands by a small piece of property owned by the private school.

        The legislation, Mr. Henderson said, will enable the National Park Service to swap its present parking area for the small piece of property owned by the school.

        The end result, he said, will be that both will have contiguous parking. “We'll use it for parking and be able to create a little more green space around the house, which is the way it was when the Tafts lived here.”

        Mr. Taft was born and raised in the house. When the young assistant Hamilton County prosecutor married in 1886, he and his wife, Nellie, moved to nearby Walnut Hills. The house remained in the hands of the Taft family until 1899.

        During Mr. Taft's boyhood, the family homestead took up 1.28 acres on Mount Auburn, Mr. Henderson said. The county's juvenile detention facility now sits on part of the original Taft property.

        The historic site includes the house and an education center.


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