Preservation Saves

CPA Restoring Landmark Modernist Residence
Architect John Becker’s 1938 International Style house built
for Frederick & Harriet Rauh
Complete restoration includes the 8.9 acre site’s landscape design
by A. D. Taylor

“This important house has been at risk for several years,” noted Paul Muller, Executive Director, CPA.  “We are very excited by the opportunity to bring it back to its original 1938 design.”   Charles Schroer, President of CPA, stated:  “We are overwhelmed by Mrs. Pulitzer’s generosity, commitment to preservation, and support of CPA.”  The Rauh House was donated to CPA by Mrs. Emily Rauh Pulitzer along with funds for a complete restoration.

Vacant since 2005 and badly deteriorated, the Rauh House was stabilized in the fall of 2010. Research and testing of restoration methods have been underway for several months.

The house was built for insurance executive Frederick Rauh and his wife, Harriet, who raised two children in the house and lived there until 1964.  The couple were civic leaders, arts patrons, and champions of progressive causes.

The Rauh House is the “residential masterpiece” of John Becker, one of Cincinnati’s pioneering Modernist architects.  Architectural historian Walter E. Langsam described the house as “elegant, pale and cool” with interesting massing, fenestration and materials.  A partner in the firm of Garriott and Becker, John Becker designed subtle early Modern residences as well as Cincinnati firehouses.  Like Harriet and Frederick Rauh, Becker was an active and engaged member of a network of creative, progressive, young professionals living in Cincinnati in the 1930s and 1940s.  His wife, Marion Rombauer Becker, shared these interests and was the author of the best selling cookbook Joy of Cooking.

Acclaimed landscape architect A. D. Taylor designed the original site plan, which will be recreated.  Taylor’s other Cincinnati area works include the Union Terminal Approach, the planting designs of Ault and Alms parks, and the Julius Fleischman Estate in Indiana Hill.

In approximately 2005, the Rauh House and its supporting acreage were purchased by a third party who attempted to subdivide and develop the property.  During this period of time, the Rauh House sat vacant.  The roof leaked, vandals broke in, and original fixtures were stripped.  The entire site was vandalized and continued to deteriorate.

In 2006, Margo Warminski of CPA brought the house’s plight to national attention on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Preservation 911” site.  The post brought inquiries from lovers of Modernism all over the country, and generated a follow-up item in a renovation magazine.  It caught the attention of Mrs. Pulitzer, the daughter of the former owners.  The house also found new champions: Gary and Gina Anaple of Springfield Township.  The couple located Mrs. Pulitzer and contacted CPA for advice on preserving the home.  The Anaples did research on the history of the house and its current situation.

In 2010, the house was purchased by an entity controlled by Mrs. Pulitzer.  In April of this year, the remaining acreage was purchased at a Sheriff’s Sale.  Now, with the house stabilized and the site reassembled, a full restoration can begin. CPA is grateful for Mrs. Pulitzer’s generous gift and honored to oversee the restoration of this Mid-Century Cincinnati gem.  The restoration architect is Architects Plus.  Milner Carr Conservation Laboratory is consulting on specialized restoration techniques.  The house will serve as a laboratory for the preservation of International Style buildings across the country.  When completed, the Rauh House will be open for tours and lectures.  If subsequently sold as a private residence, historic conservation easements will ensure that the house and landscape are preserved for the future.

Emily Rauh Pulitzer.  Emily Rauh Pulitzer is founder and chair of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and an internationally respected arts professional and collector. A native of Cincinnati, Mrs. Pulitzer earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in art history from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree in art history from Harvard, and also studied at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

Mrs. Pulitzer moved to St. Louis in 1964 to be the curator of the Saint Louis Art Museum, where she remained for almost a decade.  Mrs. Pulitzer and her late husband, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., selected future Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando to design the building that is the home of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. The building opened in 2001 to international acclaim. Today, the Foundation continues to present the work of outstanding artists, often for the first time in St. Louis.

In addition to her work at the Foundation, Mrs. Pulitzer is a member of the Harvard University Overseers and a member of the Harvard Visiting Committees to the Departments of History of Art & Architecture, the Graduate School of Art & Design and the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies.  She serves on the boards of several arts organizations. Mrs. Pulitzer is the recipient of five honorary degrees and several awards for her work.