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Young Couple, Old House: Why Stately Bellevue Home Attracted New Residents

Taylor and Sasha Voss met as pharmacy students at the University of Cincinnati, married, shared an apartment in Ft. Thomas, and then began to hunt for a house.

The newlyweds knew they wanted an older home, they just weren't sure where. On a whim, one weekend afternoon, the couple went to open houses across the region.

"One weekend, Taylor was off work and I had a month off before my rotations were going to start, so we said, let's go look at some houses," Sasha said. "This was the last house we came to and I just fell in love with it."

And what's not to love?

The striking estate on Lake Street stands proudly above its handsome neighbors and is described in the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky as "a monumental Queen Anne-style residence with Roman arches and chateauesque gables". It was designed in 1889 by architect S.E. Des Jardins and built in 1890 for local distiller owner George Robson. The Vosses' research on their property led them to a journal entry by Des Jardins in which he described his commission for a 10-room house in Bellevue.

"We had tried finding out information beforehand and it got us in touch with the right people and it's been very interesting learning about the house," Taylor said. 

In its more recent history, the towering structure had been a multi-family apartment building before being restored to single family status by its previous owners in the 1990's. That was good news for the Vosses who did not have as much work to do on the Victorian-era home. The house has changed hands many times since its construction and research by Taylor and Sasha even revealed a time in which the home was lost and taken back by a savings & loan company during the Great Depression in the 1930's. 

By the time the Vosses laid claim to the Lake Street home, it was move-in ready but not in perfect condition, they said. A wall separating from the house needed to be addressed right away. And now, as owners of old homes often do, the Vosses have a project. There is a second floor porch on the east side of the home that will require some serious attention, which led the couple to one of the benefits of old house restoration: historic tax credits.

Bellevue's assistant city administrator and Main Street manager Jody Robinson explained to the couple the city's historic preservation grants and tax credits and then directed them to the state's programs, too. That was welcome news to the new owners as an engineer's and architect's review of the project revealed a higher than anticipated cost. "The entire bones of it needed to be replaced," Taylor said. 

Now the porch will be fully restored to what it may have looked like when Mr. Robson first strolled upon it in 1890.

"Maybe people tried to patch it through the years but it's ultimately something we will restore based on the original," Sasha said.

When finished, the second floor porch will be another fully restored piece of the home's beautiful exterior, and will offer Taylor and Sasha another reason to love living in Bellevue. 

"I like Bellevue," said Sasha, who grew up in southeastern Kentucky. "It almost has a small town feel. We know a lot of our neighbors and others in the community."

Taylor, who is from Maineville, Ohio, originally, talked about running into new neighbors on Fairfield Avenue where they frequently walk, and at the recent Taste of Cincinnati across the Ohio River. 

"We're close to Cincinnati but we're not in the middle of it," Sasha said. "I love all the other cities: Cincinnati, Newport, and Covington, being so close to these places you get to experience much more."

"There's so much you can walk to," Taylor added. While Covington may be a tad too far for a casual walk, he said, another forthcoming benefit to living in the River Cities will help a lot: Red Bike, the Cincinnati-based bike-sharing program that is expected to be in Bellevue, Newport, and Covington by July. "It's too far to walk to Covington but Red Bike would make it very feasible."

And on days where staying home makes more sense, the Vosses can simply enjoy their massive front porch and take in the quiet charm of Bellevue, something they'll soon be able to do on their side porch, too.

Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher