Originally created 09/21/03

Bauhaus-style house bears unmistakable marks of the man who refurbished it



Gina Spencer and her family may live in the house at 3047 Pine Needle Road in Augusta, but the house is a LoSchiavo home, she said.

Her father, Arthur LoSchiavo, bought the 3,100-square-foot, flat-roof house at auction in 1975 after the previous owner donated it to a church.

"He came home and said, 'We got it,"' she said. The family has had it ever since.

The house was built between 1936 and 1945 as a vacation home for Roswell C. McCrea, a dean of the business college of Columbia University. The early International/Bauhaus-style house was in need of work when it was bought by the LoSchiavos: It had a turquoise living room, a Pepto Bismol-pink upstairs bedroom and a caved-in roof.

"My parents saw the possibilities," Mrs. Spencer said. "My dad, being the carpenter at heart, just started and continued to do home repairs up until the day he died."

After his death in 2002, the Spencers (who lived down the street) moved into the four-bedroom house rather than let the property go up for sale.

"My children miss the house down the street, but for me this is home," Mrs. Spencer said.

The house reminds her of her father's hard work. Mr. LoSchiavo laid the black, Italian tile floors downstairs and moved a toilet in an upstairs bathroom from one side to the other.

"This house is a reflection of Dad's life. That's another reason not to let it go," Mrs. Spencer said. "Too much heart and soul."

The decor is a study in black and white.

White walls remain unadorned, Mr. Spencer said, because of the quality construction of the house. "You need a concrete drill bit to hang pictures in the plaster-covered steel-mesh walls," he said.

A white sectional sofa was there when the house was purchased, and the galley kitchen has white cabinets with black countertops.

Large mirrors and floor-to-ceiling windows in the back of the house give the downstairs an open, airy feel. It also produces a great cross-breeze, making the living room a favorite of Mrs. Spencer.

The living room also features an indoor garden where a sprinkler system waters aloe, pencil cactus, peace lilies and other plants Mrs. Spencer tends. "It gives the feeling of being outside while inside," she said.

Upstairs, there are hardwood floors in each room, skylights and a terrace accessible from the master bedroom and a second bedroom.

The only rooms without white walls are the downstairs bathroom, which has black-and-white printed wallpaper, and a wood-paneled den with rustic decor and the feel of a private library.

The house's contemporary design mixes well with the family's furniture to produce what Mrs. Spencer considers a hodgepodge. "It's eclectic," Mrs. Spencer said. "A lot of the furniture is from Mom and Dad. We mixed some of our furniture in there."

The stark quality of the house does not prevent it from being cozy.

"It's comfortable," Mrs. Spencer said, admitting that the family hasn't had quite enough time to settle in.

"But I like this clean style," she said. "Simple and uncluttered. Less furniture, less knickknacks. You don't want to put too much in. The beauty is just within the design."

The Spencers have always thought the house was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, but the architect's name is a mystery. "To this date, we're still unable to find out who the architect was. We'd love to hear," Mr. Spencer said.

AT HOME WITH ...

THE FAMILY: Gina and Michael Spencer; sons Alex, Andrew and Anthony; daughter, Anna; and dog, Abby

THE HOME: 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, early International/Bauhaus style

THE BASICS: Galley kitchen, terrace, indoor garden with sprinkler system and skylights

IT'S A FACT: Mrs. Spencer's father, Arthur LoSchiavo, restored the house by himself after purchasing it in 1975. The family believes the home's design was the work of an unknown architect who was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com