Marble Cliff: Living History

Michelle Sullivan

Once an elaborate garage for a mansion, a coach house in Marble Cliff has been converted into 3,500 square feet of luxury living.

Among the condos on Roxbury Road in Marble Cliff that were built in the 1970s but styled to look 100 years old, there are two structures that are the real deal. One is the mansion built in 1908 by Italian businessman Sylvio Casparis, since converted into two separate units. The other, part of the estate's original carriage house at 1427 Roxbury Rd., has been transformed into a three-bedroom home that maintains its storied masonry and charm, including exposed original brick walls. The 3-story, 3,500-square-foot house has arched doorways, original window frames and interior doors and a 5-story tower that can be seen above the trees from Arlington Avenue. Climb the narrow, spiral staircase tucked away in an upstairs bedroom, and you'll find the tower's small loft. The home's most striking detail is the remarkable stairwell that splits it down the middle; stand at the top and peer down to a large, unfinished basement.

For being made of solid brick, the house receives a good bit of natural light, especially in the master bedroom, kitchen and a darling little reading nook. When he bought the house in 1979, owner Tim Hirsch made some adjustments, like knocking down a wall to make way for a bar between the living and dining rooms. He also sealed the original front door-which opened into the living room-and added a small foyer for a new entrance.

Still, plenty of history remains. Part of a wooden pulley, presumably once used to lift hay and grain for the horses up into storage, extends from the wall outside the master suite, and a portion of a wooden gate is embedded in a brick column near the property's entrance.

Tales of former residents hold their place in history, too. Tim's wife, Kay, recalls a visit from a few nuns who returned to the carriage house for a walk down memory lane. The mansion at one time had been a convent, and the order's novices lived in the carriage house and did laundry here, Kay says. In the 1960s, architect Byron Ireland, best known in Columbus for designing the Ohio Historical Center, also lived in the carriage house. Adds Kay: "The kitchen was his draft room." With more than a century's worth of memories inside, this house makes you wish walls could talk.

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