Home Tour: This 1889 Queen Anne-Romanesque Revival beauty has been restored with love
And sits amid a welcoming Bellevue neighborhood
Brent Coleman | WCPO contributor
5:00 AM, Feb 23, 2018
6:43 AM, Mar 2, 2018
Editor's note: This story originally misstated the construction year of this home. WCPO regrets this error.
BELLEVUE, Ky. -- Taylor and Sasha Voss were pretty sure they had found their forever home in 2011 when they bought the 1889 George W. Robson Jr. House in Bellevue.
But when their first child, Evelyn, arrived six years later, everything changed.
The 3,000-square-foot Queen Anne-Romanesque Revival home they loved so much suddenly seemed too big. The staircase that rises more than 20 feet in the center of the house to their master suite on the third floor became an endurance and safety issue with a toddler in tow, and the 30-minute commute for the University of Cincinnati graduates to their jobs in Florence was a logistical burden.
Time to move to the suburbs!
The newly listed home is now on the market at $499,000.
The Vosses, who are in their early thirties, aren't sure how well they're going to adjust to their new home and life in the suburbs. Not only will they miss the home Taylor put so much sweat equity into, they'll miss their quiet little Lake Street in one of Bellevue's two historic districts.
"The neighbors here are phenomenal, and it's amazing how varied they are," Sasha said. "There are people of a lot of ages, and they're all friends. It's a little community here, and everyone takes care of each other."
A few upgrades
George W. Robson Jr. and his father owned the Old '76 Distillery on the Licking River south of Newport as well as the Bellevue block on which they lived. The senior Robson's house is gone, but a stretch of sister homes his son built -- known as Robson's Row -- survives around the corner on Berry Street.
The Robson House, which was designed by renowned Cincinnati architect Samuel E. des Jardins, is more stately and architecturally complex than those on the row. Painted by Taylor last summer, its brick facade features scalloped shingle gables, arched lintels above the second-story windows, a two-sided turret porch and decorative stone quoins on the corners.
Taylor points with pride to the details he designed and had restored along the front and east side of the house. He's also pleased with the cream and green colors he chose to replace white and blue.
"I love the front facade because I changed it so much personally," said Taylor, who rented 14-foot-wide scaffolding to reach the 40-foot apex of the house and impressed Sasha by "climbing like a monkey."
He said the craftsman who replaced the slate roof found the home's height and steepness daunting. "He told me 'This kind of freaks me out,' " Taylor said.
Other improvements included rebuilding a side porch off the bedroom in the northeast corner of the second floor. Now structurally sound, it features a bead-board ceiling and high-quality ipe (pronounced EE-pay) decking.
Other than painting the interior and replacing some original pine flooring with boards removed from a third-floor storage closet, the Vosses didn't have to do much to bring the house up to their standards.
The Vosses, who were renting in Fort Thomas in 2011, went to an open house just for something to do on a Sunday afternoon. They weren't looking to buy the house but loved what they saw: wide pocket doors and archways between the main rooms; ceilings no lower than 10 feet on all floors; and 19th-century details such as plaster crown molding and high baseboards.
They also liked that the two full bathrooms and kitchen had been remodeled and that there was a breakfast nook with built-in benches.
But they didn't put in an offer.
Instead, the couple started shopping for other old houses in Newport and Cincinnati.
"Bellevue was an unknown factor back then," Taylor said. "But it has been picking up a lot in the last few years with all the publicity about Fairfield Avenue."
They hunted for four months and then "we hopped into this," he said. Their offer was accepted, and they moved in just before getting married. Today, they have moved out and staged their house for open houses like the one they stumbled on seven years ago.
Typical of its era, the Robson House has a main entry hall that leads straight to a powder room and kitchen at the back of the house. To the left is the main staircase and to the right a large parlor. The hall has a fireplace with what is believed to be an original Kensington Art Tile Co. surround and hearth that was manufactured in Newport. The hall lacks a closet, so previous owners built in a large oak armoire with bench storage as an alternative.
The parlor has two double-pocket doors, which are unfinished and veneered with different woods on either side. Sprucing them up and replacing missing tile surrounds on several fireplaces in the house are two projects on Taylor's to-do list he didn't complete.
Guided guests will begin to see past alterations made to the house in the dining room. Two doors to the hallway were replaced with wide, arched openings. A third one that once led directly into the kitchen was walled in to allow for the breakfast nook in the kitchen behind it.
Taylor said the Robson House lost several other doors upstairs when its owner divided it up into apartments, but evidence of that stage of its life is hard to see. Luckily, the second staircase in the center of the house was untouched, he said.
The second floor features its own heating and cooling system, as do the other two floors. It has three bedrooms, a shared bathroom with shower and tub and a central family room whose wall nook could be doored in to create a closet, giving the house a fifth bedroom. There's also a small, turn-of-the-century safe imbedded in that room's wall.
Unexpected is the master suite on the third floor, which used to be the attic and was remodeled by the owners before the Vosses. The carpeted room takes up the entire level and features a three-bay window, a walk-in closet and an open bathroom with window-side soaking tub, large shower and vanities on opposite sides of the room.
"It's so big, somebody could put a bowling alley in here," Taylor said. "This is not your typical attic."
The entire Robson House is atypical compared with many Bellevue homes. It's one Sasha Taylor -- who grew up in an old house in Harlan, Kentucky -- leaves behind with a sense of sadness.
"Part of us is going to stay with this house," she said. "We were going to live here forever. But with a 13-month-old ... she was the catalyst for everything."