Columbus – June 2018 – Old Oaks Neighborhood House and Garden Tour

Like many cities in America Columbus had significant growth in the early 1900s. One of the main drivers of this growth was the development of streetcars, which allowed people to live further than walking distance from their place of work.

One of those neighborhoods in Columbus is the Old Oaks neighborhood just southeast of downtown. When the streetcar line was electrified in 1891 the neighborhood followed shortly after.

On this sunny warm June day they had their annual Home and Garden Tour. But before we could tour the homes we made a stop at Holy Rosary St John Church to purchase our tickets.

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The church has impressive stained glass throughout.

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But we were here to tour the neighborhood …

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As with many inner city neighborhoods there had been a long period of lack of investment leading to deterioration. Many neighborhoods, including Old Oaks, has had an infusion of gentrification over the last 20-30 years.

While many Columbus neighborhoods have had a near complete gentrification, Old Oaks still has a mix of the original residents and those who have come in and rehabbed a home.

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The neighborhood is nearly all stately brick homes.

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There is an interesting mix of those that are in dire need of repair, those that have been fully restored, and then those like this one that are in between. It is understandable with the amount of work and money it takes.

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Amongst the large brick homes is this beautiful Craftsman style home – note the house on the left is boarded up – waiting for the right person to come in and bring her back.

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Not all of the homes shown here were on the official tour, but grace the streets of the neighborhood.

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With the flags it is clear you are in Ohio – USA.

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At the edge of the neighborhood, along Livingston Avenue is Greek Revival style home that was built much earlier than the rest of the neighborhood – dating from 1852. Known as the Caroline Brown home, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad to freedom for slaves prior to, and during the Civil War of the 1860s.

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A few of the interiors of the homes were open for inspection.

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They were all beautifully restored and decorated.

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A great use of an old pull down school map – a window shade!

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Some had stained glass windows (you can also see the use of stained glass from the street as well).

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Fireplaces were present in many of the bedrooms.

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All of the homes have excellent wood work throughout.

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Another example of a bedroom with a fireplace.

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An older look was present in one of the homes.

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The highlights though were the garden tours – this one featured a massive pergola leading to the original (apparently un-restored) garage.

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An arch frames the garden of another home.

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If nature wipes out your tree, make it art.

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One of the homes had extensive outdoor living space including a pool and a palm (Ohio palm tree?)

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Another had a number of artistic touches include beer bottles made into candles.

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The garages are in the rear, as originally they were carriage houses, to house horses. Alleys line all the houses in the back.

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Technically not a garden, but the front porches were great – giving the neighborhood a sense of community.

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Old Oaks is a community in transition but as is remains a vibrant part of the city. Thanks to all who shared their homes and gardens!

As our tour ended back on Livingston Avenue, we visited the boyhood home of Eddie Rickenbacker, truly one of America’s great men. Raised in this humble house in the early 1900s, Eddie went on to become a record land speed racer, a World War I fighter pilot, a pioneer in the development of Aviation, and many other things.

For some interesting reading about one of Columbus’s great native sons check out the wiki page on Eddie.¬†https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Rickenbacker

Somebody should make a movie (although they did back in the 1940s it could be done so much better now – and Eddie has the stories that would be worth telling).

 

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Sands Point, NY – May 2018 – Sands Point Preserve

Our final stop on our tour of North Shore Mansions was Sands Point Preserve. This estate contains two primary mansions, the Hempstead House and Castle Gould.

Castle Gould was built to be a replica of Kilkenny Castle.

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Which from a distance has a strong resemblance.

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As with the other estates this one too borders the Long Island Sound. While these mansions remain much like they were 100 years ago, the others nearby have been torn down and replaced with modern houses.

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Back up on the hill you again get a nice water view.

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The Hempstead House features well kept gardens, although large tents mar the view (for all of those brides from Planting Fields I guess)

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This home too features a large turret.

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The entryway has massive wooden doors, with a smaller side door for actual use.

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Clearly if you are going to visit Long Island Mansions of the past, don’t do it on a Tuesday – they are all closed to tours.

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Cove Neck, NY – May 2018 – Sagamore Hill

As American presidents go, none were more interesting than Teddy Roosevelt. Born and raised in New York City Teddy did as many wealthy people of the time did, he bought an estate in the country. In his case he purchased 155 acres along the North Shore of Long Island, near Oyster Bay. By 1887 a home was completed and Teddy moved in.

 

 

 

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Today the estate is part of the National Park Service. As you arrive and park about 100 yards away at the visitor center, you approach the home from the rear therefore the first close up you get is of the ice house. Without refrigeration an ice house was an integral part of life.

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Making our way around the exterior (once again we arrived somewhere that was closed to tours for the day) we were greeting with a view of an eagle sculpture on the side of the home.

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When it was built in the late 1800s it was thought to be a very modern looking house.

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On this closer view of the front you will note that a portion of the railing is missing. Teddy has this removed so he could more easily address crowds that regularly gathered on the front lawn.

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The front porch is massive, and the awnings add to the comfort on a warm summer day even more.

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The traditional entrance featured a porte cochere (carriage porch).

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Our final view of the home provided an interesting perspective up the hill past the ice house to the main house. Note the numerous roof lines.

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Nearby Teddy Roosevelt Jr later built his home.

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The estate property goes all the way down the hill to Cold Spring Harbor. Sagamore Hill is a great place to spend a couple of hours – just try and time it when the house it open!

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Lloyds Neck, NY – May 2018 – Caumsett State Park

Caumsett State Park is situated along the North Shore of Long island, with 1400 acres facing the Long Island Sound. Famed retailer Marshall Field built the estate in the mid 1920s, naming it after the Matinecock Native American’s word for ‘Place by a Sharp Rock’

The estate was purchased by the state of New York in 1961 as a park. The mansion itself is in need of some repair, although apparently birds like to live on the chimney.

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As noted it is along the Sound, with a picturesque view.

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Returning to our tour around the outside of the house (it is rarely open for interior tours) you can still see the details, as well as the need for some upkeep.

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Nearby a former garage serves as a gathering spot.

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Also on the property are other stately homes, although without the water views.

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One home is still in daily use.

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The estate was used for many equestrian events, as evidences by the many barns. Caumsett State Park is a nice place to hike with natural scenery, but with some investment the property could be brought back to be an impressive setting.

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Plano, Illinois – October 2017 – Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House is an architectural icon built along the Fox River near the small town of Plano, about an hour and a half from downtown Chicago. The house was designed by Mies van der Rohe for Dr Edith Farnsworth in the late 1940s, and was completed in 1951.

As Mies stated, it is designed to be ‘almost nothing’, a basic, yet elegant design of glass and steel.

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As with many famed architects and clients, Mies and Edith battled over many features. One was that Mies said there should be no curtains, Edith won.

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Another is there is very little storage in the house, as it was designed to be a weekend retreat.

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The house has had three owners since it was built. Since the early 2000s it has been owned by a trust.

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The flooring is Italian Travertine.

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While the owners have had their own furnishing in the house, it is currently set with stunning mid century modern pieces.

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While in the house, you feel as though you are still outside.

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Our tour included a number of European architects, who were ecstatic to be in the presence of greatness.

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Simple, elegant and stunning; the Farnsworth House is an American classic.

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Grosse Pointe, MI – May 2017 – Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Edsel Ford was the only child of Henry Ford, and as such had plenty of money to build his mansion however he pleased. He and his wife Eleanor chose the vernacular architecture of the Cotswolds, in England. This included sandstone walls, slate roof with reducing sized shingles, and an amazing collection of old materials collected and brought over from England, including paneling, flooring and windows.

The home is located in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a small community about 10 miles from downtown Detroit.

The house is filled with art, much of which is now reproductions that represent the originals that once hung in the home, but are now in the Detroit Museum of Art, donated by the Ford’s.

As you arrive at the gatehouse you can’t help but notice the massive doors.

 

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The house is 32,000 square feet, but with the various roof lines and wings to the building, it does not feel oppressive.

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Situated along Lake St Clair, on this day it was home to what felt like 1000 Canadian Geese, which is appropriate since Canada is just across the lake.

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A large lawn faces east from the home to the lake.

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The grounds cover 87 acres, much of which is nicely landscaped, although not overdone.

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The pool and pool house are detached from the main house by a couple of hundred yards.

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The gardens are minimalist, but well kept, as noted by the persistent groundskeepers who kept getting in the photos.

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Buffalo – May 2017 – Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo

Renown 20th century architect Frank Lloyd Wright has landmarks remaining throughout the country and beyond, most prominently in his adopted hometown of Chicago. While not to that scale, Buffalo has an excellent collection of FLW designs still remaining.

About 18 miles south of Buffalo in the town of Derby is Graycliff. Built between 1926 and 1931 along the Lake Erie bluffs, it was the summer home for Isabelle and Darwin Martin. The Martin’s had a FLW home in the city prior to this home being built.

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Differing from most FLW designs it does not have extensive overhangs, rather strategic design to maximize natural light throughout. Also emphasized from anywhere on the property is the view of the lake.

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Sitting on a bluff 60′ above Lake Erie, it had stairs to get down to the beach. However years of erosion has left the stairs stranded.

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The interior is still in a much needed state of repair, but it does give glimpses of the FLW style. Unlike most FLW homes, this one has a minimal amount of built in furniture, mostly as a cost savings.

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The servants quarters and garage feature fantastic bi fold doors with diamond shaped windows. The diamond shape is prominent throughout the estate.

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Next up is the Fontana boathouse, along the Niagara River. Designed in 1910 it was never built until 2007. While there we met some very nice guys from the Canisius Crew, who showed us around.

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The lower level is wide open for the storage of the boats.

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The upper level features a meeting room.

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The balcony on the upper level offers great views of the Niagara River and the Peace Bridge to Canada.

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The Davidson home is a Prairie Style on a street not far from the famed Martin House complex. It is privately owned.

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The Blue Sky Mausoleum is in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. Much like the boatside, and the filling station, this was built recently of an original FLW design, to his exact specifications.

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The Martin House complex in Buffalo consists of a number of homes and buildings designed and built by FLW. The primary home was built in the Prairie Style between 1903 and 1905, showing the amazing talent in that it still looks ‘modern’ today.

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Along the backside of the property is the Gardener’s Cottage.

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The main house holds a commanding view along the side street.

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An impressive Pergola connects two of the buildings together.

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Finally we paid a visit to the Pierce Arrow Museum (detailed in a separate posting) where they have built the FLW designed filling station.

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