On The Market: 238 E. Second St., Covington

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Shinkle Row
Shinkle Row

Photograph by William Manning

It’s tough to walk very far in Covington without stumbling upon something named after Amos Shinkle. He’s the man best known for bringing the John A. Roebling suspension bridge (originally named the Covington & Cincinnati Bridge) to life, but he also developed a number of properties in Covington, including this—one of a group of seven townhomes on East Second Street, now known as Shinkle Row.

Legend has it that Shinkle Row was constructed as housing for bridge workers, but this row was built in 1880—nearly 13 years after the bridge was complete. Nobody knows its history for sure, but the structure’s most recent chapter has been well documented by current owners Linda McGhee and Frank Cardis, who bought it 17 years ago as newlyweds. The home had been vacant for seven years but the couple saw potential.

“The back patio had weeds taller than I am,” says Frank. And the kitchen? “You could see through the floor into the basement,” he adds with a laugh. The couple cleaned it up right away but did no major renovations for a year and a half. When they finally started work, they focused much of their attention on the rear of the structure—removing a back staircase so they could increase the size of both the kitchen and the master bath above it, which now features a brand new 600-pound tub and a sparkling chandelier.

The couple kept as much of the home’s history intact as possible, including the visually stunning, oval-shaped, three-story main staircase capped off by the original rooftop skylight. Even the transoms carved into the home’s center room walls—originally implemented, says the couple, to facilitate heat flow—were left in place; the couple turned them into works of art by hanging leaded glass panels that they found in the basement inside each one. And that manhole cover out front? That used to be the coal chute. Just one of the many charms of Shinkle Row.

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