A Prized Restoration: Saving Cincinnati's Pulitzer/Rauh House
This International Style house was built in 1938 by Cincinnati architect John Becker for prominent insurance agent Frederick Rauh and his family.
In the March/April 2012 issue of Preservation magazine, we featured the inspiring story of Cincinnati’s 1938 Pulitzer House, a once-grand International Style home that was slated for demolition after suffering decades of neglect. Emily Rauh Pulitzer, the co-founder of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts with her late husband, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor Joseph Pulitzer Jr., purchased the house in 2011 after she was contacted by local preservationists trying to save the structure.
Rauh Pulitzer grew up in the home, which was commissioned by her father. After paying to stabilize the historic house, the 79-year-old philanthropist donated it to the Cincinnati Preservation Association, along with the funds needed to complete a thorough, historically accurate restoration. It now looks almost exactly the way it did when she was a girl, with the added bonus of modern amenities like insulated glass windows and up-to-date electric and plumbing systems.
Since restoration was completed in November 2012, the house has been used for tours, conferences, and private events. The Cincinnati Preservation Association is currently looking to sell the property, with a number of deed restrictions placed on the house and grounds to protect its historic character.
Restoring Emily Rauh Pulitzer’s room to the way it looked in her childhood was just one part of the project. Project manager Jeffrey Jakucyk describes the pre-renovation house as a "moldy, soppy, wet, vandalized mess."
Project designer Jeffrey Jakucyk of Cincinnati’s Architects Plus, the firm brought on board to manage the restoration, says that while the job was challenging, the final product was well worth the effort.
“The best part is seeing people like Emily, her brother Lou and his wife Margie, the [original] architect John Becker’s son and grandson, and other friends and family members brought nearly to tears on seeing the house restored, after it came so close to being lost completely,” he says.
Scroll through more before-and-after photos of the house's restoration:
Jakucyk says that the existing light fixtures were re-wired, and new fixtures were made based on old photographs. He also adds that the house was thoroughly insulated with spray foam insulation, bringing it up to modern codes.
The house’s signature cinder block construction was covered with an exterior insulation system in the 1960s, and the restoration crew had to find a way to remove the insulation’s adhesive without damaging the blocks. “Some areas of the block couldn’t be saved,” says Jakucyk, adding that the contractor was able to find a facility that could make traditional cinder blocks just like the originals.