Former family estate of well-known Fairfield historian razed

Sep. 26—Esther Benzing's former estate was recently demolished by Cincinnati Financial Corp, the owners of the property since April 2021.

Cincinnati Financial Administrative Services Assistant Vice President Roger Chamberlain said the old farmhouse was "beyond repair." Also on the property was a silo, which was torn down, and barn structures that are still standing.

"We did purchase the property last year with the hopes of converting the house into usable space for our company," he said. "After investigating ways to preserve the structures, we learned that it was beyond repair."

Chamberlain said the structures were demolished "for everyone's safety," and company officials have not yet decided on any possible plans for future uses for the land.

Esther Benzing was Fairfield's historian. She died at the age of 99 on June 16, 2002, at her home.

She published "Fairfield, Ohio" in 1978, a 300-plus-page history of Fairfield city and township, from the Symmes Purchase to the states of the police and fire departments as of the late 1970s.

Cincinnati Financial purchased the 7-acre parcel for $600,000 on April 9, 2021, according to the Butler County Auditor's Office, that's at the back of the insurance company's property. It's across from the Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital.

The home was a two-story, 10-room farmhouse built in 1845, according to the county auditor's office, that was on much a larger farm owned by the Benzing family. Much of that former family farm has been developed along the Mack Road and South Gilmore Road corridors. There are separate development plans for one of the last remaining parts of the former farm at the northeast corner of South Gilmore and Mack roads.

Bruce Benzing, a distant relative of Esther Benzing who was raised in Hamilton, said he was shocked to see the farmhouse torn down, even though he knew it was in bad shape.

"We were on vacation all of last week and saw that the house had been razed, and yeah, there were some pretty deep feelings at that point," he said. "Obviously, Esther and I, and (Esther's son) George, had literally spent time sharing pictures with one another and trying to make family connections and to see how things were so many years ago."

Whatever Cincinnati Financial Corp. plans to do with the property, he would like to see some type of tribute to Esther Benzing on the site, he said.