James Rheinstrom: Donor of Rheinstrom Park

James “Jimmy” Rheinstrom, a resident of Indian Hill for 51 years, moved to the region during the Estate Era. His Clearwater Farm comprised 30 acres, and was so named as an approximate translation from German of his surname: “rhein” and “strom”.


When he was 18, his father died, and he assumed the Presidency of Rheinstrom Brothers, manufacturers of liqueurs and cordials, which later diversified and manufactured high quality glazed fruits. The brick building with the “Rheinstrom Bros.” sign was a landmark for eastbound travelers on Columbia Parkway for many years. When the company was discontinued, the building was donated to establish Riverview Neighbors House, a favorite charity of Rheinstrom’s. Mr. Rheinstrom then became President of Kiefer Machine Company, a manufacturer of industrial machines used in packaging products such as mayonnaise, peanut butter, and drugs. The 35-year-old businessman moved to 8105 Graves Road in 1926.


James RheinstromClearwater Farm was situated on top of a hill overlooking rolling pastures. The main house was a rambling shingle style structure, and the much larger barn complex, south of the house, was U-shaped. A stone outbuilding from an earlier era – a blacksmith’s shop – was preserved and maintained by Rheinstrom. The emblem for Clearwater Farm on the Map of Camargo was a saddle, symbolizing the owner’s favorite pastime: riding.


Jimmy Rheinstrom, a member of the Camargo Hunt, rode to the hounds at least twice a week, and often went hacking (informal riding) with friends on days he did not hunt. He loved people and the camaraderie of the Hunt. Often, he opened his home to guests, writing, “Located on Graves Road, Indian Hill Village, in the fox hunting country of Ohio… Members of the Camargo Hunt are welcome every day of the year.” He was meticulous about everything, and quite formal in his manner. Always immaculately attired, he wanted everything to be done right. Rheinstrom took great pride in his barn, and remarked, “One might say that the house at Clearwater Farm is second in importance to the barn.”


The barn surrounded a gravel courtyard, at the center of which was a wishing well, and a mounting block to climb on horses. At one end of the U-shaped structure a live- in estate manager (Philip Sickinger) resided with his family. Inside the barn, (around the curve of the U) was Rheinstrom’s workshop, storage space for vehicles and equipment (tractors, sleighs, carts, a tally ho, and harnesses), an area for the cows, an area for feed, and a five-stall barn with a center aisle for the horses. At the opposite end of the U was the wood paneled tack room. It had a fireplace and was decorated with leather chairs, an antique mammy’s bench, and original artwork. An arch in the middle of the barn opened out to the backfields.


Regularly on Sundays a group of friends met at Clearwater Farm for a ride. Horses were individually escorted to the mounting block by the groomsman. Rheinstrom always wore elegant garb and the appropriate hat. His horses were impeccably clean – their hooves were painted with oil, their manes were clipped, their bits were polished, and they were so exquisite that the King of England could have mounted them! Usually, the rides over Indian Hill’s trails lasted 2 – 3 hours, with Jimmy leading the group – and he loved to ride fast. After hacking through the countryside, the group returned to the barn. Sugar cubes were given to the horses and dog biscuits to the dogs – and the humans were offered beverages.


There were frequent dinner parties at the main house. Jimmy remained a bachelor all his life, but his sister Elsa lived with him for many years and together they held soirees that featured musical entertainment after dinner. Rheinstrom hosted many Hunt Teas and frequently invited guests to his farm after the Hunter Trials. His humorous invitations were mock Life magazines, with photographs of various members of the Camargo Hunt, false advertisements, and a centerpiece summons to “drinks and eats”. Photography was another of Jimmy’s hobbies; he gave friends small wooden matchboxes with their photo on the cover. Though he entertained lavishly, he was also known – in the midst of winter when the lake on the property froze and kids came ice-skating -to bring a sack of potatoes to the lake, build a fire, and roast potatoes for the neighborhood children.


Members of the Camargo Hunt remember Jimmy being the first person to transport his horses to a meet by vehicle. In pre-trailer days, most riders rode their horses, or had groomsmen lead them to the meet. By having his mounts trucked in, Jimmy assured that they were fresh at the beginning of the Hunt.


Rheinstrom died in 1977 and willed Clearwater Farm to Indian Hill for public park purposes. After years of study, the village razed all the buildings there, and the Recreation Commission constructed a one-mile-long circular asphalt trail around the perimeter of the park. Currently residents may use the park from dawn to dusk and enjoy the trees and rolling terrain that compose Rheinstrom Park. Jimmy Rheinstrom’s donation of his Indian Hill property was key to making the park a reality.