Will a McMansion Replace a Modern Cincinnati House?

1938
The 1938 Rauh House, in an unprotected area, could be torn down for a McMansion.

Credit: Cincinnati Preservation Association

Jan. 31, 2006

Dear Preservation 911,

In Greater Cincinnati, as in many urban areas across the country, early Modernist houses are in danger from land-hungry developers, "mansionization," and lack of appreciation. One of our first Modern Movement houses needs a preservation-minded new owner who will save it from demolition.

Located in the rapidly developing suburban community of Woodlawn, the Rauh House is a classic International Style residence, long, low and flat-roofed. Pristine white stucco covers the walls, and a steel railing encircles the second-story rear terrace, which overlooks an inground pool. The house was built in 1938 for Frederick Rauh, a prominent insurance agent and his wife, Harriet Frank Rauh. Architectural historian Walter E. Langsam describes the house as "elegant, pale and cool" with interesting massing, fenestration, and materials.

Like many early Modern houses in the Cincinnati area, the Rauh House occupies a choice site: a rolling, heavily wooded estate in a formerly rural area. The land has recently been platted as one-acre building lots, and the house is being sold as a "teardown." The house has no protection from development: The land has been rezoned, and the Village of Woodlawn has no historic preservation ordinance.

The Rauh House is the "residential masterpiece" of John Becker, one of Cincinnati's pioneering Modernist architects. Becker may be best remembered in Cincinnati, however, as the husband of Marion Rombauer Becker, author of the popular Joy of Cooking series of cookbooks. In an eerie parallel to the Rauh House situation, the Beckers' own suburban residence was destroyed for a housing development last year.

The Rauh House and two acres are available for $450,000. The house has been vacant for about two years but appears in sound condition. It has seen little exterior alteration and retains its architectural integrity. The house is potentially eligible for National Register listing and may qualify for preservation easement donations, which would ease the tax burden on the new owner.

For more information about the Rauh House, contact Cincinnati Preservation Association at 513-721-4506 or info@cincinnatipreservation.org. The listing agent for the Rauh House is Jayne Riel, ReMax Acclaimed Realtors: 513-608-0602.

Sincerely,

Margo Warminski
Preservation Director
Cincinnati Preservation Association

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