Monday, February 23, 2015

The John Hauck House, Cincinnati, OH

The John Hauck House, Cincinnati, OH. 1870 Photo: Christie
Unless noted, photos from Wikimedia
It's time for me to talk about one of the most impressive collections of high-style Italianates in the US, Cincinnati's Dayton Street district. Situated in Cincinnati's Over the Rhine (OTR) neighborhood, a German immigrant area that boasts one of the finest, uninterrupted 19th century streetscapes in the US, Dayton Street was the fanciest street in the city until the very late 19th century. It is this neighborhood and Cincinnati's general possession and care for its hundreds of historic buildings that make it one of my favorite cities to visit.

While Dayton Street in itself is a street of impressive homes, the Hauck House is one of the best known. Although it was cared for as a house museum, it seems that the museum has been closed. This is a shame because it boasts an amazing series of interiors. Built in 1870 by George Skaats, it is best known for being owned by the brewer John Hauck. Starting from the outside, the house has an impressive symmetrical limestone facade, made of the yellowish limestone one sees a lot in Cincinnati; the architect who designed it is unknown. Broadly, the formality of the design connects it with Anglo-Italianate style, but it displays much more of a departure from Renaissance precedents than other examples. The facade is divided into three bays by projections, but these projections are not carried onto the first floor in the center, giving it a bit of a top heavy appearance. The side bays feature segmental arched, paired windows on the first floor with neo-Grec Corinthian columns and heavy hood moldings. On the second floor, there are paired tombstone windows with columns and deep recessed surrounds. The whole bay is created by a stone frame which, on one side has quoins and is topped by an arch with carved spandrels. The first and second floors are divided by a strong string course. The center bay has a plainer surround for the arched window with a carved drip molding. The main door is arched with an elaborate surround with carved rococo foliage, pilasters and moldings. The paneled cornice has simple brackets and between brackets has carved Eastlake designs. I particularly like how the stone joints curve around the arches. The interest in rococo carving reminds me of the Backus house in Baltimore as well as houses in the Mt. Vernon district.

This elaboration is not matched on the sides of the house, which are plain and almost windowless. The houses on Dayton street have the feel of row houses that are only slightly detached on very narrow lots. Clearly, land was at a premium in this residential enclave. There is also a carriage house that matches the planning of the front facade. The interiors are absolutely stunning, and in particular, the frescoed ceilings and mosaic and parquet floors are well worth a look. There is an extensive series of interior images in color here, which were taken by Alice Weston who documented many of Cincinnati's fine homes. These are well worth a look!

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