Just six miles south of Covington, on a beautiful wooded knoll, beside what is now Dixie Highway, stands Crestview Hills. The place is situated in a rolling country, picturesque and filled with historical interest. The road was part of the Old Buffalo Trail to the Big Bone Lick and used by Indian hunters and earliest pioneers between the Bluegrass settlements and the Northwest.
This locality was permanently settled at a period earlier than either Cincinnati or Covington. The exact date of the first inhabitants coming is not known but it was probably in 1785. The community was a center of wealth and culture, including such families as the Buckners, the Sandfords, the Leathers, etc.
Crestview Hills, as far as can be ascertained, originally is a part of a land grant of 999 acres to the Leathers family. It consists of two certain tracts of land situated in Kenton County being lots 8 and 9 and the estate of John B. Casey. The John Casey land contained 80 acres in lot 8 "after deducting out the graveyard" and 40 acres in lot 9. Further description says lot 8 "began at a point in the center of the Covington and Lexington Turnpike near the toll gate."
John Casey owned and operated a dry goods store at 3rd and Scott Street and served as a Councilman for the city of Covington in 1834. He reared a large family and three of his children lie buried in our city. The Casey home, completely surrounded by beautiful Oak, Elm and Linden trees, was a large, L-shaped brick Colonial type, typical of that period, standing about 300 feet from the Highway. There were many old fashioned brick walks outlined with such old familiar flowers a peonies, roses, iris, jonquils, violets, lilacs, snowballs, Bethlehem stars, hollyhocks and mint. The entire southwest side of the home was covered with the traditional grape arbor and throughout the property was apple and cherry trees.
It was during the Civil War that Crestview Hills probably had its most eventful days. General Heth of the Confederate Army and his staff took possession of the territory and on its ridges and gently sloping hillsides camped the men in gray. In the valleys below they watered their horses on the banks of Dry Creek.
Just when the Casey property was acquired by Barney Bungener, we were unable to ascertain but records show Mr. Bungener bequeathed this estate to his wife, Elizabeth, on June 16, 1884. On Nov. 13, 1922, after Mrs. Bungener's death, a group of Northern Kentuckians under the leadership of William Hoppenjans formed a corporation to purchase the 120 acres of farm land from her original estate. Their purpose was to start a subdivision for better class homes. The original investors were: William Hoppenjans, John Loebker, G. Edward Geise, Mrs. Ben Wenstrup, Frank Broering, Dorothy Schulte, Mrs. John Osterman, Geo. Howell, Joseph Gerwe, Arthur Eilerman, Frank Michaels, Mrs. J.L. Crigler, Mrs. Margaret Pieck, William Grischy, Joseph Luhn, Charles Davis, Alvin Rabe and the last one whose name was omitted from the list is presumed to be Frank Anthe. Collectively, these men subscribed to 650 shares of stock at $100 per share for a total of $65,000. Additional cash was borrowed from a bank.
In 1924, the first home was built and opened to the public as the "Model Home" completely furnished and decorated by some of our larger, local business houses. After a year this home was acquired by the Emmett Woods family. They remained there until the end of 1973 when the highway department purchased the homes facing the Dixie Highway between winding Way and Rosemont Ave. to widen the highway for the traffic from the new interstate being built (I-275).
A number of building sites were sold. The total amount derived from these sites is not known, but if estimated at the rate of $3000 per site, should be about $80,000. This is based on the number of sites originally available, less the number unsold until much later. Using the revenue from the sale of lots and the money borrowed from the bank, the Kenton Development Co. did the following:
- Graded about four miles of proposed roadways
- Laid about 1.5 miles of reinforced concrete road, 18 feet wide
- Installed underground utility lines to service about 40 building sites
- Planted trees along all proposed roadways at intervals of about 50 feet on both sides of the road
- Erected an elaborate brick and sculptured stone entrance at two roadways
- Engaged in a moderately extensive advertising campaign
Crestview Hills now came into being. The original ad describes it well. "Beautiful, smooth, permanent concrete driveways extend through the broad expanse of one hundred and twenty acres, not in the usual stereotyped conventional manner, but in a series of graceful winding curves and circles, with here and there spacious park areas of an occasional flower plot, sparkling lakes and beautiful shrubbery."
After eight houses were built in the subdivision, none of the stockholders, with the exception of the president, took a personal interest in promoting the enterprise and this fact, along with the depression, caused the property to lie dormant. No dividends were paid to the stockholders. In 1935, the Kenton Co. Board of Education acquired 5 acres of the land on the southwest side and Dixie Heights High School was built. In 1941 the park areas were deeded to the trustees to manage and control. The only condition in the deed is that the park area shall revert to the Kenton Development Co. in the event they cease to be used for park purposes. The Board's chief function is to see that the park areas are mowed and trimmed during the summer months.
In 1943, the Property Investment Co., a subsidiary of the Peoples-Liberty Bank of Covington, decided to foreclose their mortgage on the land of the Kenton Development Co. The Property Investment Co. offered the stockholders of the Kenton Development Co. a chance to redeem the mortgage, but it was not accepted. The property which had been put up as security for the loan (and which comprised the developed area of the subdivision only) was sold to William Hoppenjans personally. At this stage, the Kenton Development Co. retained title to about 62 acres of undeveloped land. Again the land lay dormant, accumulating a backlog of unpaid taxes. In 1949, William Hoppenjans died. After his death, two interested parties, Frank Anthe and William Hoppenjans, Jr., decided that some action needed to be taken. A stockholders meeting was called and new officers and directors were elected. At this time the corporation was entirely without funds and owed considerable back taxes. The officers were authorized to salvage what they could from the corporation's only asset - the land. There remained for distribution to the original stockholders a sum of $24,500. This was the only return they would receive for the original investment of $65,000.
At this time, 1951, the land was resold to Frank Anthe, Marion Zumbiel, Elizabeth Hoppenjans, William Hoppenjans, Jr. and William Jordre. The corporation name was now changed to the Crestview Hills Development Co. Their first undertaking was to get the property owners to band together to repair the existing roads. After this project the new corporation began expanding the building sites. Rosemont and Parkway were now connected by Winding Way and Parkway was extended to the last 4 sites. Dixie Lane was added and Rossmoyne extended from around the second or third building site to Druid Lane connecting in a circle with Warwick Ct. back to Rossmoyne.
The great building expansion and suburban development following World War II started to reach Crestview Hills. As time went on the City of Crestview Hills could easily have been absorbed by their neighbors in Erlanger and we would have been subject to their taxation without practically any representation. We incorporated into a city in October, 1951 and the first benefit gained by this act was a 60% reduction in insurance rates. The original charter had expired in 1949 and now a new charter was drawn up to continue to protect the right of property owners. The mayor-council form of government was adopted.
Around 1956 James Caywood Elementary School was opened. It is situated in back of Dixie Heights High School. It was during this period, between 1951 - 1954, that Crestview Hills expanded to include Lookout Stud Farm (Gould Property), the area known as Whitehouse Drive, the area on the east side of Dixie Highway, known as the Gallenstein property up to and including Summit Hills Country Club. This area includes Thomas More College.
The remaining acres of land were resold again August, 1961 to Ed Bessler, Robert Klensch, George Meyerratken and William Jordre remaining a part owner. The name of the corporation was changed again to Crestview Land, Inc.
At this time, the remaining 42 acres of undeveloped land began to take shape. Summit Drive was extended from Summit and Dixie Lane to go alongside Caywood School and turn into Vernon Drive. Parkway was finished extending into Vernon and Sunset was developed to extend from Vernon to Winding Way. Vernon was finished running from Summit to Rossmoyne (which was also extended from Druid to this point). Rather than extend Druid into Sunset, a section of road, with a turnaround, was laid to accommodate two more lots. The park area was extended between Sunset and Warwick with the addition of another lake. About an acre of land, at Vernon and Rossmoyne was taken by the Highway Dept. to accommodate the new road being built.
The last corporate owned lots were sold in September, 1975. The original Crestview Land area now has slightly over 100 homes. Since that time, the Lookout Farm area, the College Park area, Thomas More Research Centre, Summit Lakes and Grandview Summit areas have been developed giving the City a fine blend of residential and business without compromising the quality of life, which remains high in this area. Mostly due to the lowest overall property taxes in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region, free garbage pickup and recycling, many free recreation programs in the summer, now extending into the winter and an administration dedicated to making sure Crestview Hills remains, as ads once said, "The place in which you'll want to live."