Laurel Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Laurel Court, Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, The Queen City, 1788-1912

By Rev. Charles Frederic Goss
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago - Cincinnati - 1912

(Excerpt from Volume I, describing famous homes of Cincinnati, pages 443-444)
Written by Mary MacMillan

Thompson (sic)

In College Hill on the exact site of his old beloved home Mr. Peter G. Thompson has built a house which is said by many architects to be the most beautiful in this country. Up the curving Belmont avenue one comes to it, standing among its trees. A gigantic old oak sentinels the front and a patriarchal pine the side, and clumped in formal garden effect about the terrace and down drive are innumerable shrubs and little arbor vitae trees. The house is a perfect example of the Greek Renaissance built solidly of white marble from North Carolina. One notes the square windows, the enormously broad frontage, the faultless proportions of the building.

The great fluted columns in front and the stone balustrade around the top are epic in their perfection. The main entrance leads into a hall which extends transversely the length of the building. Immediately before one is the staircase ascending a few steps to a landing, which opens out into a court, the stairway dividing and going to the right and to the left hand. Thus from the front door is a vista through the hall, over the landing and into the court. All of the house opens into this court whose glass top may be rolled back, and a cloister extends all about it and all manner of tropical plants grow there. On the east side of the front of the house is the music room, an exact copy of a room Mr. Thompson saw in a French palace except where that was white this is gold leaf laid on in triple plate. The lighting fixtures in this room are crystal. The dining-room is across the hall, and here the lighting fixtures are particularly beautiful, being of silver specially cast for this room. At the other end of the hall, to the west of the house, is the library, an apartment twenty-five by forty feet. Mr. Thompson has not an inconveniently huge number of books; there are about three thousand volumes, all them very choice and for the most part bound in Morocco. The room is ideal, a spacious, luxuriantly comfortable place sealed entirely in rosewood, where one would delight to "invite one's soul." On one book-case rests a jewelled patriarchal crown; in a case lie some rare swords and scimiters that might have been used by Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves; and in a strong box some priceless decorated parchments and something to Cincinnatians even more precious and interesting, the original correspondence between John Cleves Symmes and Jonathan Dayton-letters some of them of forty pages of foolscap. Verily we do not know how to write letters today. Back of the library is the billiard room, and upstairs are the sleeping apartments, each bedroom with its complete white-tiled bath and dressing room. At the extreme east end of the house is a stone terrace where the family sit and have their afternoon tea. Beyond is the porte-cochere and beyond that a pergola and formal gardens. Behind are the conservatories and beyond them the stables; and the formal garden dips down into an old-fashioned garden and grassy tangle where Mr. Thompson plans to have a meandering stream and waterfall. And still beyond, to the east. in his daughter's grounds, he has built a little log-cabin play-house for his grandchildren which is as perfect in its way as the marble mansion is in its. Mr. Thompson has not been a lavish and indiscriminate collector. He has rather few things but they are very choice; some very old and lovely pieces of Satsuma, for instance, or a piece of Cloisonne which is the largest in the world, a vase on which sea-serpents coil in the exquisite blue water of an unfathomable sea. The house is his own individual taste to which he gave four years of planning and selecting. And it is delightful to see that while it is all as elegant as a European palace, it is at the same time so bright, attractive, wholesome, livable.