Friday, April 2, 2010

Cincinnati: The Good, the Bad, the Horribly Remuddled!

This house at 445 Dayton street is the kind of house that makes a historic preservationist want to cry.

A high end Second Empire brick Townhouse with "over-the-top" stonework and bracketry is amazing architecturally. A townhouse that would be 4-7 million on the east coast restored.
The lowered squared off windows are the first clue this house needs some serious help'

At first glance you might say 'well its not really all that bad. they have obviously replaced the windows but a few several thousand will fix that. The front door is still there and look at that stonework!"
You would be right 10-15,000 for new period correct windows, some serious time and effort into the front door and from the street this would be a stunner.
"Not what this house, or any house, should look like on the inside, all the trim is gone!"
The PROBLEM is the inside, and is a prime example of why zoning overlays and change of use requirements are critically important. This house which was built as grand single family home was converted some time in the 60 or 70's to several apartments. To make it as "maintenance free" ( bulletproof) for the section 8 tenants EVERY PIECE OF WOODWORK WAS REMOVED! the floors were covered with 'low maintenance' linoleum. The baseboards were replaced with baseboard heating and the ceilings were lowered. One could only pray that they were too lazy to demo the plaster and hiding above are grand plaster medallions, but the chances are slim. The fact the front door is still there and hasn't been replaced by a metal security door is remarkable. Foreclosure, if nothing else saved it from further indignity.
This hallway has an almost "Institutional look" and isn't that plastic wood door trim wonderful and check out those canister lights?
It stands as a monument to WHAT NOT TO DO TO A HOUSE!!!!!!
"The 12-14 foot ceilings have been seriously lowered one can only hope they were lazy and didn't demo the original ceilings with their elaborate plaster crown moulding and medallions"
Restoration of this 4300 square foot 8 bedroom 3 bath house would frankly be an absolute labor of love, OR insanity. The cost of replicating the baseboards , the window trim, finding salvaged pocket doors , new historic style ceiling medallions,and lighting not to mention the dumpsters and dumpsters of drywall and partition walls to remove. If they want to do a sequel to the movie "Money Pit' I know where they can find a location. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless man hours this COULD be gorgeous. Doubt a bank would even touch this so it would almost all have to be self financed. While Dayton Street is turning around you should expect to be here a long time to get your money back There is a vacant lot next door that could maybe be bought for a New Orleans style private courtyard amd a carriage house. I found a photo of the house that sat there but I do not have the heart to show it. It was a twin to this one but with even more elaborate windows and detailing.
The owner is asking 55,000.00 for the house and is advertising it as a "Potential Cash Cow". If you area sado-masochist I can send you his email. It is one of those houses that because it has exterior that is so fantastic it does 'briefly' cross your mind and YES I can see it full of Bradbury wallpapers and my antiques, BUT, I've done this before, this IS NOT a house for first time restorer and even for a seasoned restorer, it would just have to be your perfect dream house to even consider. But hey buy this one and in about 10 years I'll come over to help you hang the wallpaper.
Do you know of a house that is so terribly remuddled that it stands as a prime example of what NOT to do to a Victorian house? If so send it to me and I might feature it here. By showing what NOT to do we may be able to better educate the rest of the world on how a Victorian should look. Send me and email to with a photo and the who, what, and wheres and I might feature it here.

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