After sitting vacant for five years, a landmark 1938 John Becker International Style house built for insurance agent Frederick Rauh and his wife, Harriet, will be renovated by the Cincinnati Preservation Association. One of the first Modernist homes in the region, the house was donated—along with funds for a complete renovation—by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, founder and chair of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and daughter of the original owners.
The long, flat-roofed, white stucco house is widely considered Becker’s residential masterpiece; architectural historian Walter E. Langsam called it “elegant, pale and cool.” A pupil of Walter Gropius’s at Harvard and a partner in the firm Garriott and Becker, John Becker designed several Cincinnati firehouses and a catalogue of early Modern residences, including one in Anderson Township for himself and his wife, Marion Raumbauer Becker, author of the Joy of Cooking. The house was torn down by developers in 2005.
Mrs. Pulitzer lived in the Rauh house, which she said quizzical neighbors likened to a gas station, until her parents sold it in 1964, after which it changed ownership several times and was eventually abandoned. She was alerted to its derelict condition in 2009, when CPA director Margo Warminski listed the vacant $450,000 property on Preservation 911, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s online message board for endangered historic properties. In 2010 an entity controlled by Mrs. Pulitzer purchased the house, and shortly afterwards the remaining acreage was acquired at a sheriff’s sale.
A former curator of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Mrs. Pulitzer and her late husband, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., commissioned future Pritzker Prize–winner Tadao Ando to design a new home for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, which opened in 2001. In addition to donating the Rauh house, Mrs. Pulitzer donated funds for a complete renovation. Architects Plus has been chosen as the restoration architect, with Milner Carr Conservation Laboratory providing consulting on specialized restoration techniques. The original landscape architecture, designed by A.D. Taylor, will also be recreated. Upon completion, the house will be opened for tours and lectures. If the house is sold as a private residence, historic conservation easements guarantee that its architectural integrity will be preserved.