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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 (update: Looks like house sold.) 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:


  1. 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.

    1. 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…..it could be a very cozy and livable home with a light hand to keep the best.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. amy 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. Rick Armstrong says:

    what is the address of this property? It looks wonderful and I remember the show. My mother could not be pulled away from the TV.

    Thanks Rick

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