For Sale: Modern Marvel in Bexley

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

The home at 353 N. Drexel Ave.stands out among its traditional brick neighbors. The exterior sports a green and purple color scheme, and the low roof with expansive eaves recalls the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright.

This prime example of mid-century modern architecture can be found in Bexley thanks to Leon Seligson, a successful local architect who greatly admired Wright. Seligson also designed the AFL-CIO building at 395 E. Broad St., the now-demolished Cinema East movie theater and many homes and warehouses, but this property was his dream home, designed specifically for him and his family.

Seligson built the house in 1962, and in the same year it was featured on a tour by the Ohio Fuel Gas Co. as "The House of Enchantment" for its modern design and use of all-gas appliances. Other features of the home included a sunken tub in the master bath, terrazzo flooring and a finished basement with a pool room (the original pool table is still in the basement). Seligson died in 1997, and in 2002 his widow, Isabelle, sold the home to Babette Gorman.

Gorman has strong ties to Columbus-she's the great-great-granddaughter of retail pioneer Simon Lazarus-and in 2002 she'd just moved back from Los Angeles so her daughter could attend the Columbus School for Girls. Gorman left behind a beloved mid-century home in Southern California, and when she took ownership of the Seligson property, she was excited to have found another such home here.

With the help of Darryl Rogers of Rogers Krajnak Architects Inc. and contractor Pat Livingston of Aurora Industries, Gorman renovated almost the entire house, updating the electrical system, appliances and bathrooms and covering the hard terrazzo flooring with a more forgiving and contemporary hardwood. She also opened up the kitchen to create a fluid living and dining area, converted one of the first-floor bedrooms into an office with built-in shelving and added a spacious, window-lined sunroom with heated floors on the back of the house, next to the patio.

Although she made significant changes, Gorman maintained the home's aesthetic. In the sunroom, the vaulted ceiling and windows mimic the living room. In the loft overlooking the living room, which was once Seligson's office, the original cork floor is still intact. And Gorman transplanted the still-working Murphy stove (the all-in-one stove and refrigerator unit was originally installed upstairs so Seligson's mother, who lived with the family, could keep kosher) to the finished basement.

The sleek lines and large windows of the home are complemented by the lush backyard patio area, which isvisible from almost every room in the house. Mature landscaping and a low wall make the patio on this corner lot feel secluded and private, despite being located on one of Bexley's busier streets. Thanks to Gorman's stewardship, Seligson's dream home is more than just a sterling example of mid-century architecture-it's still a comfortable and welcoming family abode.