A Strauss/Roush Original in East Walnut Hills Gets a Jose Garcia Update

The distinctive living room and side porch now come with a spa-like master suite and an updated kitchen.
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Photograph courtesy David & Lori Wellinghoff of the DIGSGroup at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

As Mid-Century Modern structures go, this 1951 home has substantial local pedigree. Not only was it designed by iconic Queen City modernists Carl Strauss and Ray Roush (it was, in fact, the sixth of more than 100 structures the pair designed together), it was renovated 16 years ago by Jose Garcia, arguably one of the most creative Cincinnati-based architects of our time.

Photograph courtesy David & Lori Wellinghoff of the DIGSGroup at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

The original owners were allergist Joseph E. Ghory and his wife, Mary. Back then it was stained brown and had red, radiant-heated concrete floors, but its most striking feature was the west-facing living room and side porch, which resemble a giant dragonfly wing constructed largely of windows and screens.

Photograph courtesy David & Lori Wellinghoff of the DIGSGroup at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

After 52 years in the Ghory family, the home sold to its second owners in 2003; they, in turn, hired Garcia to design an addition and some renovations. “Design-wise, they gave me complete freedom,” says Garcia—a decision that brought the home roaring into the 21st century thanks to a bold orange exterior, a spa-like master suite with sweeping vistas of the home’s backyard, and a brand new kitchen.

Photograph courtesy David & Lori Wellinghoff of the DIGSGroup at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

Of the three, the kitchen may be the most fascinating, not only for its stainless steel and blonde wood materials, but also for its sleek, curved wood ceiling—a feature that “captures light” from a bank of west-facing clerestory windows “and brings it in, in a gentle kind of way,” says Garcia, who first experimented with the concept in his design for the Lightborne Communications building in Over-the-Rhine.

Photograph courtesy David & Lori Wellinghoff of the DIGSGroup at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

Today, the home, which sold again in April, is a harmonious mix of old and new. The living room floors in that still-graceful dragonfly wing have worn to mostly black with a hint of red and Garcia’s gutsy updates peacefully coexist with original features like corrugated drywall and wood-paneled built-ins. Mid-Century Modern purists might scoff at the home’s more contemporary additions, but there’s no mistaking Garcia’s respect for the original architects’ work. In the end, this home is both a fine example of how modern American architecture has evolved over time and a testament to the staying power of excellent design.

Photograph courtesy David & Lori Wellinghoff of the DIGSGroup at Comey & Shepherd Realtors

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