Visit the French Eclectic house at 7125 Riverside Drive in Dublin, Ohio and you’ll join a list of guests that have included Audrey Hepburn and Perry Como.
The home was built in 1941 by attorney Charles Krumm and his wife, Sarah. While vacationing in France during the late 1930s, the Krumms saw a stone Norman-style house by the Bois de Boulogne, a park outside Paris. They were so inspired by it that when they returned home, they began their plans to create a distinctive French Eclectic residence on their property along the Scioto River.
After Mr. Krumm passed away in 1944, Mrs. Krumm and their son, Albert, continued to live in the home until 1947, when Andre and Eleanor Gelpi bought it and became the new owners. Mrs. Gelpi founded Swan Cleaners in 1937; her husband had been a senior executive with F. & R. Lazarus and Co. before taking Swan’s helm. The couple lived in the home until their divorce in 1961; Eleanor remained there until her death in 1985.
During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the Gelpis’ home was the site of fundraisers, philanthropic events, Christmas parties, and Fourth of July celebrations with patio cookouts, dance bands and fireworks displays. These functions were attended not only by celebrities like Hepburn and Como, but also by Ohio politicians such as Governor James A. Rhodes and Congressmen Chalmers P. Wylie and Sam Devine.
In 1999, the City of Dublin purchased the property and transformed it into a community center dedicated to the arts, which opened to the public as the Dublin Arts Center on March 17, 2002.
Behold the home’s uncoursed stone exterior and you’ll admire a circular stair tower; fieldstone wall cladding; full-length casement windows; wrought iron railings and balconies; cross-gable slate roofing; and copper flashing, gutters and downspouts.
Open the entry door framed by an arched opening with limestone details, walk inside, and the resident cat, D’Art, will accompany you as you discover more details of this attractive house. The library, now an office, features original wood paneling and a carved decorative border under the mantel of a working gas fireplace. A sunporch not only connects the gallery to the north end of the house, but also provides the perfect spot to view the landscape that descends to the river. The former kitchen, maid’s room and breakfast room were converted to a drawing and painting classroom. The dining room, now a conference room, features an original mural that was painted on canvas.
The sunroom at the very south end of the house features a gift shop where you can purchase handmade works of art by local and regional artists, art reproduction cards, art supplies, art-related items for children and Irish-themed merchandise. You can also catch a good view of the patio where the Gelpis had their cookouts.
The living room was transformed into a gallery, offering 570 square feet of space for artists to display their works in a rotating schedule of exhibitions. Bird Song Hill: Low Relief Wood Images by Russ Shaw, on view through April 18, is a collection of three-dimensional scenes featuring birds found near Shaw’s farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Shaw, a carpenter and self-taught artist, uses a scroll saw to carve images of cardinals, hummingbirds, chickadees, woodpeckers, crows, goldfinches, Scarlet Tanagers and more birds out of reclaimed native Ohio wood, such as birch, walnut, red cedar, ebony, cherry, maple, poplar, beech, catalpa, ash, oak, chestnut, Osage orange, sassafras, elm, mulberry and antique pine. He creates frames for his work from 100-year-old barn siding. Each piece is available for purchase.
The master suite once had a sitting room, bedroom, large cedar closet and bathroom, which still features its original salmon-colored tiled ceiling and turquoise-hued fixtures. A balcony runs along the back of the house, connecting all of the bedrooms.
On the lower level, the home’s original recreation room, previously adorned with dark wood paneling and red shag carpeting, now is a multipurpose classroom, with a fully stocked darkroom nearby. The three-car garage was transformed into a ceramics studio featuring eight potter’s wheels and a kiln.
Before you leave, look for D’Art’s no-litter cat box, an introduction to the Dublin Arts Council’s Riverboxes series. Modeled after letterboxing and geocaching, this activity offers clues to find 13 site-specific public artworks in Dublin parks, all containing an artist-made ink stamp and journal. Other Dublin Arts Council initiatives include the Dublin Art in Public Places cell phone tour, featuring two-minute interviews with artists involved in Dublin’s award-winning public art program. This summer, it will offer summer art camps for children on painting, drawing, and pottery, as well as Sundays @ Scioto, a free summer concert series held on Sunday evenings from June 8 through July 27 and August 10 in the Scioto Park amphitheater at 7377 Riverside Drive in Dublin. Its annual Garden Party fundraiser will be held on May 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at the OCLC Kilgour Building Atrium. For additional information about any of these activities, visit http://www.dublinarts.org.