We once claimed that Southern hospitality began at the riverside in Covington, but unfortunately we’re going to have to move the lines – which seems to be all the rage these days – in a way that doesn’t disregards the city’s former friendliness. Licking Riverside Historic District.
The story begins quite well when David Klingshirn, owner of a pharmacy in Cincinnati and Hyde Park and founder of the city’s American Classical Music Hall of Fame as well as founder of the Cincinnati Parks Endowment Fund, bought a large house in the historic district of Covington at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers. It was in 1986.
It’s a big house, so David asked his friend, Marc Tischbein, to join him there and take over 1/3 ownership, which he did. And they lived there happily for several years.
“Marc was my best friend,” Klingshirn said in a recent interview – and with a hint of angst in his voice.
The relationship began to deteriorate when Marc married Peggy Rankin, one of two daughters who inherited a substantial estate from their father, James Rankin. Klingshirn remembers him as a true “southern gentleman” who loved Kentucky, was a military man, and found success as president of the NuTone company. Early in his career, he was an elementary school teacher in the Sixth District.
In 1993, Klingshirn, Tischbein and Rankin together purchased the Carriage House and undertook extensive renovations which included the construction of a second garage to attach to that attached to the Carriage House. The Carriage House had at one time been part of the main house, so they pieced the package together. Tischbein and Rankin also undertook an extensive remodeling of the main house.
Klingshirn moved into the shed and still paid the taxes and insurance on the house and the two adjoining garages. And, he believed he had a “gentleman’s agreement” with the couple that at some point they would sell the property in one piece and split the proceeds as agreed. But when they got a nice appraisal of the property, Peggy announced, “I’m never moving.”
Because he was counting on the proceeds of the sale for his nestegg retirement and could no longer meet the expenses of the property, he put the Carriage House – and its two garages – up for sale. The Tishbeins refused to buy the Carriage House from Klingshirn, saying it was too expensive.
This is where Lorrie and Scott Hill come into play. They lived in the New York area, very powerful and very stressed. Lorrie was retiring from an important government post and Scott was the editor of a major national magazine with offices in downtown New York. The ride was deadly, and Lorrie wanted to get home to the Cincinnati area. She had always dreamed of a house with a view of the river – and they learned of Klingshirn’s desire to sell his Carriage House. Klingshirn was a deacon in their church in Cincinnati and in 2014 was ordained in the church.
A linguistic warning, but the ‘F’ word is a favorite – and here’s Peggy with her usual greeting for the neighbors.
The Hills fell in love with the Carriage House and bought it from Klingshirn in 2018. When the sale closed, they received a deed, which shows they own the Carriage House and the two garages and of a significant part of the land which includes the gate and most of the driveway giving access to the house.
Little did they know they would be referred to as “outsiders,” “out of town,” and “those northerners.” How could they know that Peggy Rankin would brag about having “the courts” in her pockets and that personal relationships would rule the day. How could they have foreseen a long legal battle with hostile neighbors that would demand the payment of legal fees – still ongoing – that could almost equal the cost of the house itself.
This is not the “retreat” they envisioned.
Klingshirn said he set up a meeting with the Tischbeins and the Hills early on, to help the neighbors get off to a good start. But, he said, it was clear from the start that Peggy was angry and hostile.
“They also tried to drive me out of business,” Klingshirn said. “I don’t trust them.”
And he’s adamant that what he sold to the Hills was his – and as he testified under oath in Kenton County Circuit Court – he sold the Carriage House and the two garages.
“The Hills didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “They are in no way at fault.”
But the trial in Kenton County Circuit Court, Judge Kathleen Lape’s court, ultimately ended in a ‘summary judgment’ awarding the Tischbeins the second garage on the basis of ‘adverse possession’. and taking a good portion of the property for which the Hills paid – despite Klinghirn’s testimony and despite the deed.
The case is pending a hearing in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but no date has yet been set. And the legal shenanigans continue. The Tischbeins asked Judge Lape for another small piece of property on the Hills Deed – and she took it under advisement. Additionally, Tishbein set out to circumvent the zoning process to get permission to build another garage next to the main house and remove a fence. He got an endorsement that was later withdrawn when the neighborhood association argued that proper procedures had not been followed.
Meanwhile, the Hills suffer considerable harassment from the Tischbeins—harassment well-documented by the Hills-installed video cameras.
Klingshirn said he heard from his former neighbors that they weren’t comfortable living in the neighborhood because of the noise and foul language – and the kind of behavior you wouldn’t expect. see from neighbors in what is considered Covington’s swankiest neighborhood.
The Hills certainly don’t feel the love, as they attend association events and only get “I don’t want to get involved” from neighbors who simply look away.
Marc’s favorite pejorative is “Fatty Patty”, loudly and often addressed to Lorrie Hill. Sometimes he even adds a little dance to it. One day it was so bad that a couple walking quietly down the street stopped to ask Lorrie if she was okay and if there was anything they could do.
When does a neighborhood accept the impact of this harsh environment on property values? When do the neighbors come together to put an end to juvenile and classless behavior?
As we lament what has happened to civility and neighborhood and the lines between right and wrong, note that you have actually witnessed the beginning of our society’s crumbling mores at the corner of Covington’s Riverside and Shelby .
Judy Clabes is the editor and publisher of NKyTribune.
See NKyTribune’s story on the garage feud here.
Read “Little garage case” here.
To read all the documents that make up the call, click here.