Cincinnati radio legend Ruth Lyons’ lovely Early American home with a caboose in the back!

early american midcentury decorA tip from reader Nancy led us to discover this warm and charming time capsule — former home of popular Cincinnati area talk-show host Ruth Lyons — listed for sale by Nicholas Motz of Motz Real Estate. The home’s historic 150 year-old exterior gives way to a warm, inviting interior styled with loads of wood and Early American decor — with key features looking like they are still pretty much in place as when the house was featured as the cover story in the super popular American Home magazine in 1958. We love it! 

1958 house

From the property listing:

  • Price: $350,000
  • Square footage: 4,324
  • Year built: 1866
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2.5

Rare opportunity abutting Mt Airy Forest – Ruth Lyons’ former home featured in April 1958 American Home magazine…. 4.5 AC+ parcel. Restore Lyon’s estate and home to her deserving glory, or develop into 8 additional home sites, w/ Lyon home as main anchor.

early american midcentury decorDoesn’t this cozy sitting area just draw you in and insist that you sit and stay a while?

early american midcentury decorOrange carpet! Avocado green accents! A colorful plaid couch! The very definition of cozy!

early american midcentury decorIn the dining room, vintage floral wallpaper and wainscoting set off this lovely collection of Early American furniture. And yes, more orange carpet!

early american midcentury decorThis is a pool table if ever I’ve seen one! And that set of three matching pull down ceiling lights — perfection!

vintage train

I asked realtor and photographer Nicholas Motz why there was an old caboose in the back yard of the property and he responded:

It was a clubhouse for the kids growing up.

How fun is that!

Mega thanks to realtor and photographer Nicholas Motz of Motz Real Estate for allowing us to feature this fantastic property.

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge … click anywhere to move forward and look for previous and next buttons within photo to move back or forth… you can start or stop at any image:


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  1. Dan says

    Can anyone tell me what that is on the interior gable over the plaid sofa? Looks like an oriental seascape with dragons done in tile.

    I grew up with that orange carpet and counter, and that dining room set. For some reason, I’ve never felt the urge to revisit them.

  2. Carolyn says

    Thank you for these photos. When we look at print ads or books and magazines from that era, the colors seem to be so gaudy (read awful!) because the inks didn’t age well. These “live” pictures show the knotty pine and earth tones to their best advantage and we can see how well they all interact.

  3. says

    My grandmother had some of that same line of dining room furniture – we still own it though we’ve broken the set up into different rooms now. I have the original tag with a sentimental reference to the 18th Century and tips for repairing the finish.

  4. Nancy says

    Ruth Lyons! My goodness! A pioneer of daytime talk, she was big part of my MCM childhood tv viewing along with Howdy Doody, Mickey Mouse Club, Mighty Mouse, Sky King, Flicka. Her signature look included flouncy dresses and a hand mic hidden in a bouquet of flowers. Thanks for the stroll down Memory Lane!

  5. Jacki says

    I really love this place. I love cozy spaces and this one has plenty of them. I decorated my dining room in 1960 vintage Early American maple as it has such a warmth to it.

  6. says

    I remember my mother watching Ruth Lyons when I was a little girl (around the mid-seventies). Mom would set me up in my high chair with my breakfast (at least I think it was breakfast, lunch was usually served when ‘As the World Turns’ came on) and turn on Ruth Lyons’ show for herself. It was a daily ritual. I hadn’t thought of her in years. How neat to see her house on here!

  7. Janet in ME says

    I never saw or heard of Ruth Lyons because we didn’t have a TV when I grew up. But I love the house – all that furniture in it reminds me of our house when I was little. I love it all – the dark pine framed furniture and hex end table with the eagle lamp, the maple dining room set, the brass plates on the knotty pine, the colonial wing sofas – all of it brings me back. And I loved seeing the knob on the top of the bottom stairway post. Does anyone remember the story of that knob on the top? I think it had something to do with a carpenter using it as the sign of being a master craftsmen but I can’t recall for sure. Definitely quality work in that house.

    • Kathy says

      Staircases were a sign of master craftsmanship in a house built in 1866 and from what I can tell, it and perhaps some of the simple door trim and baseboard is about all that is left of the original house, perhaps a few windows. The stairs appear to have a spool style newel post, which is common for mid-Victorian houses of that time.

      My guess it was originally a vernacular Gothic Revival farmhouse, but that is hard to tell without some research.

      Cincinnati is a nice city, great architecture. Mt. Airy Park is very large and beautiful nature area, and I bet the property has views of the Ohio River.

      • Mary Elizabeth says

        Yes, the shape of the gables and the scroll trim all say “Carpenter Gothic” to me, and the year is about right for that architecture. The exterior creates an odd juxtaposition with the 1950s interior, but that’s how houses grow and change over decades.

        My favorite features are the fireplace, which seems to wrap around a corner, and the kitchen wallpaper and cabinets. So nice!

  8. Lynne says

    I found my issue of American Home. Its a really big article. I can’t seem to make the pictures come up on the realtor’s site, so I’m not sure if I’m being redundant or stating the obvious.

    The pool table and the light over it are original. When they entertained they put a big table top on top of pool table. There is a picture of her setting up for a buffet.

    The kitchen has been completely totally ruined. No surprise. The article touts that they had the newest gadgets which included an under the counter ice machine. They show a picture of her daughter getting ice. They wanted her husband to be the one getting ice, but it would show his bald spot and he wouldn’t do it! Looks like a huge awesome kitchen. Formica counters, by the way.

    The Oriental painting/picture is hanging in the same place.

    No plaid. The furniture is solid red, which the article states was Ruth’s favorite color. All of the wallpapers were tiny provincial style prints. Honestly, it looked a whole lot better in 1958.

    Any questions, just let me know.

    • pam kueber says

      Even so, it is super nice to see the paneling etc all still in place! I actually like the kitchen, you know I have a thing for bittersweet orange countertops!

    • Janet in ME says

      Was the kitchen originally knotty pine. I too thought the cabinets had to be much newer. And the red upholstery did not surprise me one bit. That was a very popular fabric when the wore-like-iron nylons came out. My 1960 four seat sofa has a brown nylon fabric on it and although I know it was reupholstered at some point, it doesn’t have a thing wrong with it. I would love to have it redone again, but I also have a motto, why fix it if it ain’t broke! Oh, the arm caps on the plaid sofa are on the wrong arms. If I were to buy that house, I would want those plaid sofas!

      • Lynne says

        The kitchen wasn’t knotty pine, but it was paneled in almost the exact same color as the cabinetry. The cabinet doors were plain, fruitwood on a steel core with gold raised molding. There was a scalloped cornice under each which hid under cabinet lights.

        • Kathy says

          I liked the 1958 version better too, especially the billiards room. And I see the coveted Armstrong 5352 Embossed Inlaid Linoleum in there too. I suspect it may be in some of the other rooms as well under the orange carpeting.

          The original article is at the end of the realtor’s slideshow, but it took a few tries for more than a couple photos to pull up for me.

  9. Marilyn says

    Love it all…the armchairs and the built in cupboard…orange is back by the way and this is a very loved house…lots to do with all that American colonial…and I love the orange counters…wallpaper would be great here and there too…

  10. Nikki says

    For me, the best – hands down- is the plaid sofa and loveseat. I love the combination of bright colors that still coordinate with the knotty pine and orange carpet!

  11. ineffablespace says

    The remodel is old enough to be charming now, at approximately 60 years old, and it’s revisionist to apply our current feelings about preservation to those of more than half a century ago, but they essentially did the opposite of what Retrorenovation believes in philosophically–they put an entire mid-century modest interior inside a 90-year-old house. (That was probably fairly intact). This would be like putting a 2015 interior inside a late craftsman or deco moderne house.

    The first modern kitchen and bathroom in the house (if it had a bathroom) would’ve been about 50 years old at that time, so it’s really not that much different than people tearing out a midcentury kitchen or bathroom now.

    However, I do think there were bigger changes from 1900 to 1955ish in plumbing and cooking than there have been front 1955 til now.

    As a (relative) purist I think that the best interior for this house would be the one it was built with, but I also recognize that houses evolve, and not everything is destined to be a time capsule. Plus if the historic fabric is a wreck, I am not sure if it’s any more honest to rebuild a Victorian (or midcentury) interior that was no longer there, that it is to build whatever is contemporary to the time in some sort of compatible way. My problem with putting what most people like in 2015 into a midcentury house is that they aren’t very compatible with each other, whereas a completely contemporary interior in a Victorian can work.

    • Kathy says

      I think “Colonial” and “French Provincial” and maybe a dash of “Gay 90s” Victorian were sort of the fallback interior design styles for old houses in the 1950s. A simple Gothic Revival like this one does share some similarities with a simple late Federal “Colonial” style house, especially in the interiors.

      I’m bit of a purist too when it comes to historic preservation, but most houses, including the one I live in now, are a real mashup of styles that have evolved over time. I think it is OK to preserve the best of that, which is for me the billiards room and the great room, which looks like was an addition anyway. I would simplify and do a moderate renovation on the sitting room/library, hallway and dining room, to take it more early Victorian, which is quite light and simple and more to modern taste. And I would do and some moderate updating on the kitchen and take out some of the 70s. Not that 70s is so horrrible, but it can be a bit much in an early Victorian.

      On the outside, I would expand the patio around the pool, new pool fence, some more landscaping, including some trellises and vines to soften the enclosed porch, and a bigger stoop and perhaps a canopy for the door. At first I thought the awnings were aluminum, but when I looked at them closer, I realized that they may be custom wood awnings with openwork scalloped trim to match the gable bargeboards. Not period perfect, but what a cool detail!

      Well, one can dream… could be a very cozy and livable home with a light hand to keep the best.

  12. Jill says

    What a nice example of the early American style! I still have some of my parents pieces (hutch,desk) from that era. But my favorite here is the box car! Anyone who read The Box Car Children series would love to spend the night in it!

  13. Evelyn Fear says

    I remember watching Ruth Lyon’s 50/50 Club at noontime. She was such a sweet Lady and the audience loved her. I remember that she wore white gloves, and I think most of the ladies in the audience had them, too. And, they’d do a segment where they all waved to the people in the home audience, especially their own families and friends, and Ruth had a special song she sang, “Let’s wave to the folks who are watching. Let’s wave to the folks tuning in.” A very GREAT Lady–kind of an icon to those of us in the Midwest.

  14. Steph says

    The “original” wallpaper in the billiard room looked great. I can’t believe how big the property is for that price. I wish there were some pics of the bathrooms!

  15. says

    I grew up watching Ruth Lyons in Cincinnati-what a gas to peak inside her home! She was on the air with other Cincinnati icons: Uncle Al and Captain Windy, Bob Braun and Nick Clooney, father of glam movie star George Clooney!

    Ruth was a pioneer to be a female talk show host in the 60′ and 70’s.

  16. Cyd says

    Ahhh…the woman who made sure all the children at the hospital received a gift during their stays. Thanks for sharing her home!

  17. Greg N. says

    I also grew up watching the 50/50 Club with my mother. She was a true icon and pioneer. Her endorsement could make or break a company in her viewing area (Cincinnati/Dayton/Columbus/Louisville/Indianapolis and all towns in between). Rubel’s Rye Bread, Kahn’s Weiners, Fels Naptha Soap…they all owe their success to Ruth Lyons. Funny side bar. Procter & Gamble wanted her to end her show a half hour sooner as they were losing so many viewers of their soap opera in the 50/50 Club television markets. They refused to advertise Tide on her show in retaliation. Ruth Lyons told her sales people to find another laundry soap to promote and they found Fels Naptha. That brand outsold P&G’s Tide brand for years, Right in the backyard of P&G’s world headquarters. She was AMAZING.

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