Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Cincinnati Preservation Association, and ArchitectsPlus for the preservation and rehabilitation of the 1938 Frederick and Harriet Rauh House at 10068 Leacrest Road in Woodlawn
The Rauh House, built in 1938 by prominent Cincinnati insurance agent Frederick Rauh and his wife, Harriet Frank Rauh, is one of the first International Style Modernist homes in Ohio. It is the crowning residential achievement of Cincinnati architect John Becker, a local pioneer in modern architecture. The long, narrow plan with whitewashed cinder block walls and corner windows was a dramatic departure from conventional house planning. It sits on nearly nine acres of gently rolling, wooded land at the western edge of the Village of Woodlawn. The landscape, designed by A.D. Taylor, a pioneer of landscape design, connected the Modernist house to its gently sloping site.
By 2010, after abandonment and 5 years of exposure to the elements, saving this modernist icon seemed beyond hope. The lack of appreciation for this architecture made it unlikely that anyone would take on the structural deterioration and degradation of the site. This lack of recognition, and the understanding of the loss of our history that results from it, galvanized the Cincinnati Preservation Association and other local Modernist activists to save this jewel. That advocacy led to the invaluable support of Emily Rauh Pulitzer, daughter of the original owners who purchased the property and donated it to the Cincinnati Preservation Association along with funds for the restoration. With the help of ArchitectsPlus and Meisner + Associates and Land Vision, Landscape Architects, the house and grounds have been painstakingly restored to their original state.
Of primary importance to Mrs. Pulitzer was that the restoration of her family home would serve to increase awareness and appreciation of the architecture of the recent past. The results have certainly done that. The process of meeting the challenges of this restoration provides real-world solutions that others will use for addressing the issues specific to the materials and designs of this period. These solutions include techniques for removing modern materials without causing damage, replicating lost features, and sourcing replacement components. Additionally the restored house and site are open to the public for tours and events allowing visitors to experience firsthand the innovative design and integration of site and building of the International Style. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of the many passive design features that speak to the current interest in a lower-carbon built environment.
The Cincinnati Preservation Association, which plans to sell the residence with protection covenants, held a symposium earlier this year on preserving modern architecture in the Midwest to help call attention to this project and to the preserving of modern architecture. The Rauh house project is a thorough restoration of a 1930’s Modernist residence. It demonstrates that not only can daunting technical challenges be overcome but also those due to under-appreciation and lack of awareness.
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