The Fascinating History Behind the Home Beautiful Expo Houses Built Inside Music Hall

Before there was Homearama, there was the Home Beautiful Exposition at Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine. From 1925 to 1936, the expo was held in the North Hall where each year an entire home — from the basement to the roof and even landscaping and grass — was constructed inside the hall.

According to Friends of Music Hall, a volunteer-based organization that helps preserve Music Hall and its history, each home featured modern luxuries of the time and were even furnished and decorated. The homes would be for sale and visitors could walk through the home and get an idea of what life would be like inside. The buyer would need to purchase a lot where the home, which would be dismantled and moved after the expo, could be reconstructed.

"Once purchased, they were moved into neighborhoods around town.  You can still drive past many of them today," Mindy Rosen of Friends of Music Hall told CityBeat in an email.

While most of the homes are still standing today, for some, like the very first exposition home in 1925, the paper trail on what happened to the home is cold. According to research from Friends of Music Hall, there's no record on where the 1925 home was built. As for the final expo home in 1936, it's not known if it was ever purchased, and the home in 1929 was bought and placed at 4700 Reading Road, but was later torn down so the Norwood Lateral Expressway could be built.

However, if you would like to see the remaining homes, Rosen says Friends of Music Hall has created a driving tour you can take. You can also take an indoor tour of Music Hall that will take you behind the scenes and into the North Hall where these homes were first built.

"When you take a tour of Music Hall by one of the Friends of Music Hall tour guides, you never know what you might learn about this National Historic Landmark building," says Rosen.

Keep scrolling to see some of the Home Beautiful Exposition houses as they were in 1920s-30s and now.

Learn more history behind the homes here.

Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. More information about the Friends of Music Hall: www.friendsofmusichall.org.

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Cincinnati's Music Hall is actually made up of three buildings: The South Hall, the main theater and lobby and the North Hall. The North Hall (the right side of the building in this picture) was once a convention center and home to the Home Beautiful Exposition from 1925-1936. The North Hall is no longer used as a convention space, but you can still see it during tours of Music Hall.
Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Opera

Cincinnati's Music Hall is actually made up of three buildings: The South Hall, the main theater and lobby and the North Hall. The North Hall (the right side of the building in this picture) was once a convention center and home to the Home Beautiful Exposition from 1925-1936. The North Hall is no longer used as a convention space, but you can still see it during tours of Music Hall.
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Builders would construct entire homes, from basement to roof, inside Music Hall's North Hall. Landscaping like trees, shrubs and grass were also included, and sometimes builders only had a week to finish the house.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

Builders would construct entire homes, from basement to roof, inside Music Hall's North Hall. Landscaping like trees, shrubs and grass were also included, and sometimes builders only had a week to finish the house.
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 The 1926 expo home was bought by jewelry salesman Albert Roos and built at 4818 Reading Road in Bond Hill.
Photo: Google Streetview

The 1926 expo home was bought by jewelry salesman Albert Roos and built at 4818 Reading Road in Bond Hill.
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Builders had difficulty selling the 1927 expo home, so to motivate buyers, they offered a new car for free to the buyer. It was built at 4788 Reading Road in Bond Hill and was most recently sold in 2020.
Photo: Google Streetview

Builders had difficulty selling the 1927 expo home, so to motivate buyers, they offered a new car for free to the buyer. It was built at 4788 Reading Road in Bond Hill and was most recently sold in 2020.
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The 1928 expo home came with an original listing price of just $13,250, and that was for the fully equipped model. It still stands today at 2543 Langdon Farm Road in Pleasant Ridge.
Photo: Google Streetview

The 1928 expo home came with an original listing price of just $13,250, and that was for the fully equipped model. It still stands today at 2543 Langdon Farm Road in Pleasant Ridge.
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John J. Behle, manager of all the Home Beautiful Expositions, was hired to be the 1929 expo home's manager. He liked it so much, he bought it. The home was built at 4700 Reading Road in Bond Hill, but was demolished in the 1950s for construction of the Norwood Lateral Expressway.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

John J. Behle, manager of all the Home Beautiful Expositions, was hired to be the 1929 expo home's manager. He liked it so much, he bought it. The home was built at 4700 Reading Road in Bond Hill, but was demolished in the 1950s for construction of the Norwood Lateral Expressway.
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John J. Behle, manager of all the Home Beautiful Expositions, was hired to be the 1929 expo home's manager. He liked it so much, he bought it. The home was built at 4700 Reading Road in Bond Hill, but was demolished in the 1950s for construction of the Norwood Lateral.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

John J. Behle, manager of all the Home Beautiful Expositions, was hired to be the 1929 expo home's manager. He liked it so much, he bought it. The home was built at 4700 Reading Road in Bond Hill, but was demolished in the 1950s for construction of the Norwood Lateral.
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Believing the average person should be able to afford one of their model homes, the Home Beautiful Exposition event managers wanted the 1930 home to be more affordable than previous models. This home, built at 4762 Reading Road in Bond Hill, would have cost no more than $10,000.
Photo: Google Streetview

Believing the average person should be able to afford one of their model homes, the Home Beautiful Exposition event managers wanted the 1930 home to be more affordable than previous models. This home, built at 4762 Reading Road in Bond Hill, would have cost no more than $10,000.
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Even more affordable was the 1931 Home Beautiful expo house, costing just $9,000. It was built at 4003 Clifton Ave. in Clifton after it sold.
Photo: Google Streetview

Even more affordable was the 1931 Home Beautiful expo house, costing just $9,000. It was built at 4003 Clifton Ave. in Clifton after it sold.
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1932 marked 200 years since the birth of George Washington, and in honor of that the "George Washington Colonial" style was all the rage, including the model for the expo. The home was the sixth expo house to be built in Bond Hill and can be found at 1720 Berkley Ave.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

1932 marked 200 years since the birth of George Washington, and in honor of that the "George Washington Colonial" style was all the rage, including the model for the expo. The home was the sixth expo house to be built in Bond Hill and can be found at 1720 Berkley Ave.
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1932 marked 200 years since the birth of George Washington, and in honor of that the "George Washington Colonial" style was all the rage, including the model for the expo. The home was the sixth expo house to be built in Bond Hill and can be found at 1720 Berkley Ave.
Photo: Google Streetview

1932 marked 200 years since the birth of George Washington, and in honor of that the "George Washington Colonial" style was all the rage, including the model for the expo. The home was the sixth expo house to be built in Bond Hill and can be found at 1720 Berkley Ave.
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The 1933 model was billed as an "all-electric" home, including warmer cables in the garden. It was also used to help educate electrical engineering students at the Ohio Mechanics Institute as they took a tour of it. The home was bought and reconstructed at 1570 Wittlou Ave. in College Hill.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

The 1933 model was billed as an "all-electric" home, including warmer cables in the garden. It was also used to help educate electrical engineering students at the Ohio Mechanics Institute as they took a tour of it. The home was bought and reconstructed at 1570 Wittlou Ave. in College Hill.
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The 1933 model was billed as an "all-electric" home, including warmer cables in the garden. It was also used to help educate electrical engineering students at the Ohio Mechanics Institute as they took a tour of it. The home was bought and reconstructed at 1570 Wittlou Ave. in College Hill.
Photo: Google Streetview

The 1933 model was billed as an "all-electric" home, including warmer cables in the garden. It was also used to help educate electrical engineering students at the Ohio Mechanics Institute as they took a tour of it. The home was bought and reconstructed at 1570 Wittlou Ave. in College Hill.
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While many architects competed for the opportunity to build the 1934 model home, Wilbur M. Firth, who designed a lot of the Home Beautiful houses, was chosen. This home was built at 1526 Wittekind Terrace in College Hill, not far from the 1933 model.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

While many architects competed for the opportunity to build the 1934 model home, Wilbur M. Firth, who designed a lot of the Home Beautiful houses, was chosen. This home was built at 1526 Wittekind Terrace in College Hill, not far from the 1933 model.
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While many architects competed for the opportunity to build the 1934 model home, Wilbur M. Firth, who designed a lot of the Home Beautiful houses, was chosen. This home was built at 1526 Wittekind Terrace in College Hill, not far from the 1933 model.
Photo: Google Streetview

While many architects competed for the opportunity to build the 1934 model home, Wilbur M. Firth, who designed a lot of the Home Beautiful houses, was chosen. This home was built at 1526 Wittekind Terrace in College Hill, not far from the 1933 model.
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In 1935, the Home Beautiful expo was renamed the "Cincinnati Realtors Home Show and Garden Exposition," and new this year was the chance to see the model home being built. This particular model was later reconstructed at 3824 East Street in Mariemont.
Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall

In 1935, the Home Beautiful expo was renamed the "Cincinnati Realtors Home Show and Garden Exposition," and new this year was the chance to see the model home being built. This particular model was later reconstructed at 3824 East Street in Mariemont.
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In 1935, the Home Beautiful expo was renamed the "Cincinnati Realtors Home Show and Garden Exposition," and new this year was the chance to see the model home being built. This particular model was later reconstructed at 3824 East Street in Mariemont.
Photo: Google Streetview

In 1935, the Home Beautiful expo was renamed the "Cincinnati Realtors Home Show and Garden Exposition," and new this year was the chance to see the model home being built. This particular model was later reconstructed at 3824 East Street in Mariemont.
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Home Beautiful Exposition 1932 model home then and now.
Photo: (L) Photo: Provided by Friends of Music Hall; (R) Google Streetview
Home Beautiful Exposition 1932 model home then and now.
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