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don scholz & the american dream 

We’ve all heard of California builder Joseph Eichler and his California Ranches with walls of glass & courtyards -  mostly modest homes in sought after California neighborhoods that have surged in popularity in recent years and now sell in the millions.  But what about Toledoan Donald J. Scholz?  No, this is not more of my hometown pride showing.  But Scholz did have a lasting impact on me growing up in Toledo, and on many others in Cincinnati and other parts of the Midwest, yet most people probably don’t even know it.  


For 16 years, cincinnatimodern has dealt with Midcentury Moderns of all shapes and sizes, and they fall into loose categories with crossover & combinations:  Organic ‘Wright inspired Modern;’ International Style; Bauhaus inspired; post & beam.  We often look at these homes and can instantly recognize a trademark detail from one of our signature local architects and know exactly who designed it and when.   

But there have always been those mystery homes that have wonderful midcentury bones and features, like cathedral ceilings and walls of windows, often hidden behind more traditional facades from the front, and walls of glass to the back or side.  We always thought of them as ‘Eichler-esque’ and we weren’t too far off.  

cincinnati enquirer ad august 1959

Many of these well designed homes, from Western Hills to Colerain to Groesbeck to Mt. Washington were the brainchild of Toledo builder Don Scholz.  Scholz, originally from near Cleveland, OH, had the idea in the early 1950’s to bring California style contemporaries to Toledo and adapt them to the Midwest climate with advances like insulated glass and central air conditioning.  Until then, most postwar developments had been tiny homes built on little postage stamp lots.  Scholz idea was to spread out, and build an open larger footprint ranch with prefabricated elements to keep construction costs down.  He started in Toledo, then started branching out and before long, through a network of sales reps and franchisees, Scholz homes were being built across the Midwest and even in the South.  He was named by Builder Magazine as one of 20th century's 100 most influential figures in residential building.     

But like many visionaries, his path to get there was not easy and not direct.  He started Scholz Homes Inc. in 1946.  He sold it to Inland Steel in 1970, and started another land development company that went bankrupt before eventually relocating to the Phoenix, AZ area as a developer of luxury homes.  He died in 1999 at age 80.  

cincinnati enquirer 1954

A quick trip back in time via newspapers.com lead me to countless ads in the Cincinnati Enquirer for Cincinnati builders and contractors from 1954 into the 1970’s proudly building Scholz designed homes, many made in prefabricated sections and combined in different configurations. There was even an office in downtown Cincinnati where you could pick your Scholz home, features, finishes and builder.  Our newest listing at 7509 Miami Ave in Madeira is a Scholz Home, as is a house on Forest View Lane that we sold years ago in Western Hills.  We also unknowingly sold a couple of Scholz homes in the Wardwood neighborhood in Colerain off of Compton Rd.  Thinking back, I wonder how many others? 

 cincinnati enquirer ad 1960cincinnati enquirer ad june 1958

The house in Madeira, built in 1954, shows very well how these homes have stood the test of time, and how a little reconfiguring and updating makes an incredibly efficient home for the way we live today. 7509 Miami Avenue is currently in *coming soon* status with no showings until 5/2, and is OPEN this SUNDAY May 5, noon - 1:00.  Come take a trip back in time to see this groundbreaking and forward thinking design from a man who built his career on selling the American dream.  

the dining room with Scholz trademark wall of windows at 7509 Miami Ave in Madeira, currently on the market
7509 Miami Ave in Madeira - from the outside looking in. Link to NC Modernist with more info on Scholz




last man standing

 original hand drawn rendering of the hamer house by richard lakeman circa 1960. image courtesy of brendan morrissey

Is he really the last of the great MCM architects who made a lasting impact on the Cincinnati built environment?  It’s quite possible.   I spent a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day morning at The Hamer House (currently owned by Brendan Morrissey), designed by architect Richard Lakeman and built along Congress Run Creek in 1961.  The previous owner of the home, Bob North, tracked Mr. Lakeman down to his current architecture practice with his son Mark in Portland, OR.  Brendan continued Bob’s correspondence and when Mr. Lakeman and his family planned a trip to Cincy to visit relatives, it seemed the perfect opportunity to reunite the man with his work.  I was lucky enough to be invited along, as was Phil Armstrong, managing editor of cincinnatirefined.com (watch for his upcoming story and photos). 

me, brendan morrissey, richard lakeman, mark lakeman and family. photo by phil armstrong, cincinnatirefined.com

After a frustrating day visiting his childhood homes that were in states of disrepair, Mr. Lakeman, a spry 89 years old, was visibly moved to see one of his earliest projects - designed when he was just a student of architecture at the University of Cincinnati - in magazine worthy condition.  He told us of taking over “Mike Graves” desk at the office of Carl Strauss & Ray Roush and interning there for a year.  Yes - it was that Michael Graves, just one of many who made their way through that office and blessed Cincinnati and beyond with their “Harvard Box” Bauhaus inspired designs.  Mr. Lakeman himself designed 3 homes in Cincinnati (two along Congress Run Creek), and worked on several Strauss & Roush projects including the gorgeous (RIP) aquarium building at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and designing a bomb shelter under the swimming pool of a private residence (?!) before leaving town to start his own very successful practice.   

richard lakeman taking in the view while talking to homeowner brendan morrissey

His recall of this house, the setting and its construction were as if it were built last year.  He designed the simple 885 sq ft. post and beam house for Jean Hamer, rare books curator at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  Ms. Hamer was on a strict budget and the student architect was eager to please and incorporate the modern solar design he was - and still is - passionate about.  Nancy and George Fanady saw this home under construction and liked what they saw so much that they hired Lakeman to design their house on the creek, too.  The terrain along this creek is so challenging that creative modern architects were required to even consider it buildable. This exclusive enclave of 14 MCM homes became a veritable “who’s who” of Cincinnati architecture with homes by Lakeman, Benjamin Dombar (including his own home), Richard Peacock (his own home), Robert Dayton (his own home), Abrom Dombar, Richard Wheeler, Rudy Hermes, and Ray Roush.   

brendan morrissey, phil armstrong and richard lakeman on the deck overlooking congress run creek.  

The Fanadys loved their Lakeman house so much, they had him design their next house in Sausalito, CA.  I know Bob North is looking forward to building his new version of a Lakeman house one day when he returns to Cincinnati.  And Brendan has already stated that he plans to live in this house forever.   

As for me, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to work with these wonderful homes and get to know their owners and their stories.  And today’s trip down memory lane was better than a trip to Disneyland in my book.  


see westward ho - associated blog post from 2011

link to listing when we SOLD this house last year


we found the 'Wright' buyer!


#theBOULTERhouse by Frank Lloyd Wright sold in 1 day for $55,000 over asking price. Sale price was $750,000.


cincy modernism weekend

Cincinnati's version of MODERNISM WEEK  is the annual 20th Century Cincinnati Show Weekend.  It is a pilgrimage of sorts where people from all over the midwest and dealers from all over the country to converge at the Sharonville Convention Center the last weekend of February.  Not only is this year the 25th anniversary of the show, it is our 15th year as show participants.  In true Cincinnati February style, we can recall weekends when it has been in the 70’s and weekends when it’s been below zero.  We have even driven through snow emergencies to get there.  It is always the weekend of the year!  It’s a reunion of sorts where we get to see friends and past clients, and hopefully buy some cool stuff.  It’s also a connection point where we have met many of our clients for the first time.  If you are cincinnatimodern fans, we hope you stop by our booth and say hi!  We'd love to talk architecture with you.  

This year is even more special with the Saturday after party co-hosted  by Wild Things Antiques and cf3.  So party on, modsters!  See you there!  



frank lloyd wright's mark on the 'nati

the boulter house - 1 rawson woods circle

sale pending! 

BIG NEWS in Cincinnati this week with our **coming soon** listing of #theBOULTERhouse by the master of 20th Century architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright.  But Wright's influence on the Cincinnati built environment goes far beyond the 3 local homes that bear his signature (The Boulter House in Clifton, The Tonkens House in Amberley Village, and The Boswell House in Indian Hill).  Cincinnatimodern favorites Abrom and Benjamin Dombar lived with and studied with 'the master' for years and came back to their hometown ready, willing and able to spread Wright's principles of organic architecture.  Even when we tour a Dombar home that is more traditionally styled, there is always a little bit of Wright that we can spot - corner windows, indirect lighting, radiant heat, passive solar...the list goes on.  

Our colleagues and friends at the University of Cincinnati, professor emeritus Patrick Snadon and head DAAP librarian Elizabeth Meyer have put together a fabulous new website, Modernnati.com, to document the history of modernism in Cincinnati. Their first spotlight just so happens to be on Wright's influence in the Queen City.  Click here to get their expert take on this chapter in architectural history.  

click here for visual tour & history of #theBOULTERhouse

click here to see all wright homes on the market