Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reviving Cincinnati: 2230 Burnet Avenue

Tim Ruffner has been rehabbing the 1912 Craftsman-style house at 2230 Burnet Avenue since purchasing the property in January 2007 for $100,000.

The house is located on a section of Burnet Avenue often referred to as "Short Burnet" or "Lower Burnet", which runs from Dorchester Avenue to a dead end just past Helen Street in the neighborhood of Mount Auburn.

Unlike many of the City's larger houses from the same time period, its integrity had not been completely destroyed by slumlords looking to make a buck.

"I get the sense that the house was well-loved for most of its existence," Ruffner says. "Even when it was a two-family for a short time, all that was changed as a door added at the top of the stairwell and a wall built in the dining room to create a hallway dividing the dining room into a bedroom and a hallway to the first floor bath."

The wall was removed, revealing the original wood floors and a geographic inlay in the corner, and two big sets of pocket doors on the living room to the entry hall and to the dining room are still intact and operational.

The kitchen and 3 bathrooms were updated, but the rest of the house had only minor issues.

"Every room needed some cosmetic attention, mostly repairing a little cracked plaster, paint, finishing a few unfinished drywall repairs," Ruffner says. "Most original woodwork is there but we had to have some of the door trim milled to match by Vineyard Hardwoods in Northern Kentucky," Ruffner says. "It had all been painted prior in antique white, so we repainted in white."

Some of the original details were lost.

"The original leaded glass windows were gone when we bought the house," Ruffner says. "I would guess they may have been sold during the Depression or WWII."

Ruffner says that he had new windows made by David Duff of Classical Glass.

"They aren't replicas, but we wanted to at least bring back the grandeur of the leaded glass and eliminate curtains on the sidelights of the door," he says. "There is a pic of the new glass and the inside of the entrance, although the trim has not yet been painted."

The transom above the living room window was likely leaded glass as well.

"Replacement of that is a wish list project for someday down the road," Ruffner says.

On the exterior, Ruffner painted the trim and cleared a few trees, then did some basic landscaping and added new grass.

Ruffner says that through a Google search he has located a man who lived in the third floor of the house in the 1930s, when his grandparents, Harry and Lillie Heinzman, owned it.

The man was kind enough to send Ruffner some family photos from the 1920s and 1930s.

Many of the houses in the area share a smiliar look and floor plan, leading Ruffner to believe that they might be the product of the same builder. (Possibly Bofinger & Hopkins)

"I was always curious as to how those were related - did the same person build them, was there a sort of 'stock' plan that was available, etc.," he says. "I also have seen on the back spine of our pocket doors is written 'Fox for McGregor Park'. I don't know if Fox was the builder, or perhaps the original owner, or what."

Ruffner hopes that his work becomes part of a trend.

"I am hoping there will be more interest in the McGregor Park area where I live in the next several years, as the blocks surrounding my house are lined with large turn-of-the-century houses that are in okay shape but could use some love and attention," he says.

This slideshow begins with a "before and after", showing the house as it appeared in January 1924 and in October 2008. Following a few interior shots, it concludes with some Heinzman family photos from the 1920s and 1930s.