17 Dec Old and New
Painstaking remake of historic Rauh home in Cincinnati means authentic replication, along with new, environmental features
The squares within the new parquet floor had to be just so. They were the design foundation in restoring the former home of Frederick and Harriet Rauh in Wyoming, Ohio – one of the oldest Modernist residences in the state, built in 1938.
All you have to do to understand this is to look at all the squares and rectangles in the flat-roofed, International Style home designed by architect John Becker. A grand landmark in its day, the home eventually fell victim to deterioration and vandalism.
But with funds donated by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, and the expertise of noted Cincinnati architects and contractors, the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) oversaw a two-year renovation, completed this year, and returned the building to its original glory. With some new, modern efficiency improvements, the project is setting new standards for historical preservation.
“It’s about bringing objects forward in time to enrich society,” says Paul Muller, architect and director of the CPA. “It’s authentic, but part of a vital, living presence.”
Restoring the home to its original appearance posed many challenges. Only a small piece of the original parquet floor was available in its original color. Matching it with new flooring was critical. It anchors every room in this 5,000-square-foot flooring project, except the kitchen and bathrooms, and gives a seamless transition from room to room in this uncluttered home with strikingly clean lines.
Many samples had to be reviewed before the replacement floor was selected. Upon finding the exact match in design, several stains and finishes had to be tested before it was spot-on. Then, there were installation issues to deal with. Potential adhesion issues over cement slab, and then putting plywood subfloors over gypsum on the second story.
To match the original look of the kitchens and bathrooms, grey linoleum – a natural material made mostly from linseed oil – was installed.
Though challenging, the flooring contractors were lucky to have original samples to work from, says Rick Koehler, Chief Strategic Officer for the project’s architectural firm — Architects Plus. Due to vandals who removed major home components, including the stairs to the second floor, samples were absent, almost entirely.
“We rebuilt them using photographs from the family,” Koehler says.
It is impossible to imagine this looking at the home now. Inside and out, each wall and surface are pristine.
And there are some new, environmental features to the home that people aren’t even mentioning, says Andy Schaub, Architects Plus President.
“Like geothermal energy,” he says.
This modern technology actually is in keeping with energy efficient design elements of the original design, CPA’s Muller points out.
“John Becker used many natural features to take advantage of sun angles, natural breezes, and passive energy strategies,” Muller says. “The house was ahead of its time in design and in energy planning. It is great to bring back such an important structure.” ©
Exterior and parquet flooring images are courtesy of J. Jakucyk of Architects Plus in Cincinnati.
— Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com.