A Piece of North Avondale History Gets a Modern Update

Determined homeowners paid attention to historic details—a Rookwood fireplace! Hardwood floors! A sleeping porch!—and brought this beauty back to life.

4040 Beechwood Avenue

Photograph by Craig Burke, WOW Video Tours

On this tree-lined street of large, early 20th century homes, this brick beauty looks right at home. What you can’t see from the street is this restored masterpiece’s past life. Originally built in 1918 for Adolph Dryer, owner of the Standard Printing Ink Company, it had been vacant for more than a year when current owners Ronicha and Brian Larouche came along. Luckily, they saw a diamond in the rough. “I remember standing in the driveway, peering through the dining room window, seeing the floor to ceiling wood paneling,” Ronicha says. “Structurally, the house was perfect. Cosmetically, we had our hands full.”

Photograph by Craig Burke, WOW Video Tours

The living room ceiling needed repair, most of that wood paneling Ronicha noticed had buckled with temperature changes, there was no air-conditioning, the original light fixtures had been removed, and the original windows would not close. Still, their goal was to maintain the original character of the home and make updates as needed. With 19 rooms and roughly 6,000-square-feet to update and rehab, the Larouches had quite a project on their hands. “We feel like we rescued this house,” Ronicha says. “We have tried to keep the original integrity of the home intact while giving it modern conveniences to make it comfortable.”

Photograph by Craig Burke, WOW Video Tours

And that comfort is obvious throughout the five-bedroom, four-bath home. The front door opens to a wide central hall. To the left is a formal dining room with access to the kitchen through a butler’s pantry; to the right is a formal living room that connects to the solarium, which features floral wallpaper, a large Rookwood fireplace with an inset scene of trees along a lake shore, and arched windows with a set of doors that opens up to the back patio.

Photograph by Craig Burke, WOW Video Tours

In the kitchen, a working brick fireplace warms up the sleek black-and-white space. Industrial-style pendants illuminate the center island that’s also home to the sink and a dishwasher. Stainless appliances like the six-burner stove and massive fridge signal that this kitchen is ready for entertaining (as does the breakfast nook). A walk-in pantry with drawers and cabinets provides more storage by stealing space from an oversized coat closet.

The main stairs are visible from the front door, but there’s also a back stair, accessible from the kitchen. The second-floor landing features built-in bookcases and with the windows in the staircase, offers plenty of light and space for a reading nook. The master bedroom has a fireplace, and a sleek glass-enclosed shower with dual showerheads as well as a heated towel rack. Also on the second floor, we’re dreaming of naps in the screened-in sleeping porch. And up on the third floor is every kid’s dream space—a clubhouse of sorts. Think windows surrounding the room, built-in seating, and cozy corners for gaming, homework, or just hanging out.

Photograph by Craig Burke, WOW Video Tours

Outside, there’s plenty of potential with a flat backyard, a detached garage (which, according to the original owner’s grandson, features a ceiling-mounted contraption for washing the family’s cars), and a basketball court-sized driveway. The Larouches found a lot to love in this neighborhood, where they’ve lived for 12 years. “We chose this area for many reasons,” Ronicha says. “No two homes are alike. The tree-lined, gas-lit streets are lined with sidewalks, perfect for our children and dogs.” Let’s hope this home’s next family loves it as much as the Larouches.

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