TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2018|
Cincinnati’s rich and varied architecture often compels the use of superlatives, not unjustly as the city is home to 28 historic districts, icons like Music Hall and Union Terminal, and modern works by some of the most famous architects in the world (including Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry).
The residential architecture of the region is also fascinating. The following list of ten of the most interesting houses is not definitive, but it should pique interest and conversation about the remarkable domestic architecture throughout the tristate.
1. Hillforest, Aurora
Long before cities were transformed by highways, rivers often shaped communities. Distiller and brewer Thomas Gaff depended on the Ohio River for shipping and invested in a fleet of steamboats. He purchased land for his house on the hillside overlooking town and the river that had brought him success.
Gaff hired noted architect Isaiah Rogers (who also designed Cincinnati’s Burnett House hotel and Hamilton County Courthouse) to plan a unique home for his family. Rogers’s design not only took inspiration from Italian hillside villas, but also from the steamboats that were essential to Gaff’s business.
The home, a National Historic Landmark, features curved doors and windows leading out to large curved porches on each story, recalling the deck of a steamboat. The circular belvedere that sits atop the home references the pilothouse on a boat. Inside, a stunning flying staircase leads from the entrance hall to the second floor. After a stint as a VFW hall, Hillforest is now a museum.
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