Residents of The Belvedere in North Avondale don’t have to look far to see world-class art. They just have to look up. Built-in 1926 as the city’s first high-rise luxury fireproof apartment building, The Belvedere takes its interior design cues from the Second Renaissance Revival architectural style, which looks to Italy’s golden age for inspiration. But soaring ceilings and arched windows are just a taste of the main attraction.
The ceiling is decorated with elaborate murals painted by Herman Wessel, a Cincinnati artist who honed his skills under Frank Duveneck. Wessel was reportedly inspired by the Villa Madame, a rural palace in Rome, and used the canvas of The Belvedere’s ceilings to paint vignettes representing themes from the four seasons to state, law, and family. He never signed the murals—and didn’t receive widespread recognition for them—but the building’s residents have ensured that his legacy lives on. And the experts have taken note. In 2016, the Cincinnati Preservation Association recognized Deco Works Studio for its meticulous work on the restoration of Wessel’s sky-high masterpiece.