The house didn’t fare as well. Sperti grew ill and in 1988 the institute disbanded. The abandoned building eventually fell into disrepair. By the time Frank and his wife Janna purchased it in 1990, the living room floor had caved into the basement. Undaunted, the McWilliamses set out to reconvert the Institute’s science labs back into bedrooms, and restore and update everything from the living room floor (it’s now solid hardwood) to the woodwork, bathrooms, fireplaces, ceilings, copper gutters, windows, roof, and even the third-floor skylight. There’s also a fully functional dumbwaiter in the back stair hall.
Buyers craving a modicum of tranquility will be pleased to know that the 1.86-acre lot affords plenty of distance between the house and busy Madison Road. There’s even more local history out back: The property abuts the Scarborough Woods nature preserve, which gets its name from the property’s original owner, W.W. Scarborough, once the president of the Cincinnati Gas Company.
The first time he looked at the steep, narrow lot at the end of Oregon Street that would become The Palisades of Mt. Adams, architect John Senhauser knew it would pose a challenge—and that he could meet it. “There aren’t many places in Mt. Adams where you could really do flats like this,” Senhauser sa