There is some debate about this, but it appears that the builder of the Senate Building on Capitol Square lived here in the south end. At the corner of Fourth and Deshler, to be exact.

There is some debate about this, but it appears that the builder of the Senate Building on Capitol Square lived here in the south end. At the corner of Fourth and Deshler, to be exact.

Friedrich Wittenmeier was a master stone mason who led the trade in his day. He built his house at 147 East Deshler Avenue in 1884, after picking one of the choicest lots in the south end. The house is ornate and reflects the grandeur that led to people referring to Deshler Avenue as the Dutch Broadway.

Mr. and Mrs. Wittenmeier had eight children -- four boys and four girls -- and had room in his house for two maids. In all, it housed 12 and was exceptionally modern for the time, likely given to Mr. Wittenmeier's work and associates he met on large-scale projects.

The home had its own water system, unusual for the late 1800s, and had bathrooms both upstairs and down. A huge water tank stood on the third floor, with a pump that went down to the basement; according to the Wittenmeier children, the tank took hours to fill.

A large brick stable stood behind the house, and was connected to the main building with a thick grape arbor. Mrs. Agnes Wittenmeier took great pride in her gardens (both vegetable and flower) but was sure to leave room in the back yard for a chicken coop for fresh eggs.

Once he had finished building his family home, Mr. Wittenmeier moved on to a larger project. In 1899, Wittenmeier is said to have started work on the new Supreme Court building on the east side of Capitol Square. The Statehouse had become too crowded for the audiences that both the legislature and the Supreme Court commanded; a new building had been commissioned.

Constructed of the same Ohio limestone that makes up the Greek Revival Statehouse, the new Judiciary Annex took only two years to build (unlike the Statehouse, which took 11 times as long). The main reason this building took so much less time to construct was its style. The Statehouse is a bunker of sorts; the Judiciary Annex was built with a lighter metal skeleton between 1899 and 1901.

The debate over this building's mason comes from two differing sources: one says that Friedrich Wittenmeier can claim credit for the Annex and subsequently went broke in constructing it because the city and state could not afford to pay him. Another says that Cincinnati architect Samuel Hanaford built the Annex.

I can't bring any authenticity to either argument, but do like thinking that a local German had a hand in one of the city's most prominent buildings. So without any additional information presented (or research conducted), I'm happy assuming that Mr. Wittenmeier was the lead mason.

Legend has it that Mr. Wittenmeier lost his family home because he was never paid for his work on the Judiciary Annex. Many families have owned it since and made their mark on this high-style Italianate house.

Today the former Judiciary Annex is referred to as the Senate Building, and 31 of the 33 State Senators keep offices inside. In the late 1980s the building was fully restored, and it opened for use by the Senate in 1993.

March 3 is Statehood Day. Visit the Statehouse and Senate Building and know that one of your neighbors (very likely) had a big hand in the way things look today.

Jody Graichen is director of Historical Preservation Programs for the German Village Society and columnist for ThisWeek Community Newspapers.