Friday, March 26, 2004

Delhi's Springhouse will be reworked

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Sedam Springhouse may date to the 1790s. The limestone structure sits on Delhi Pike near the intersection with Mayhew Avenue. It will be reconstructed stone by stone this summer.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MEGGAN BOOKER
DELHI TWP. - A limestone springhouse that has been preserving perishables and watering plants and people for more than two centuries is going to be taken apart and reconstructed stone by stone this summer.

The Hamilton County Engineer's Office got approval this week to take bids for the restoration on behalf of Delhi Township. It's expected to cost $240,000 and could be finished by September, township Public Works Director Bob Bass said.

"I'm so grateful because it is really falling apart," said Doris Zeiser of the Delhi Historical Society, which has been lobbying for the restoration for more than 20 years. "I believe it is the oldest structure in the western part of Hamilton County. Plus, it's sort of a gateway to Delhi." The 12-by-16-foot Sedam Springhouse may date to the 1790s. It sits on Delhi Pike near the intersection with Mayhew Avenue. Once owned by Col. Cornelius Sedam, it was built over a spring that spews a stream of water out of the hillside.

It would have been used not only to keep food cool, according to archaeologist Jeannine Kreinbrink, but also to irrigate vineyards and other early horticultural efforts in Delhi.

"In that area, especially in the middle 1800s, people were trying a lot of different things ... to use the hilly land out there and make a living," said Kreinbrink, who studied the springhouse for the township.

An alcove in the back is likely original, she said, but the rest of the springhouse has undergone several restorations. One of the more extensive was a Works Progress Administration project that was written up in the Aug. 14, 1933, edition of the Cincinnati Times-Star: "The fall of the water will be rearranged to make it an attractive spot for the eye of the passerby."

The springhouse's latest restoration was planned in 2000, but concerns that it might be a hangout for the endangered cave salamander held up the project.

A federal grant will pay for $180,000 of the project and the township the rest.


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