Rolf Bauhan still has disciples in Princeton. The Princeton graduate
(Class of 1914) designed more than 70 houses in Princeton and restored
or made additions to more than 150 other buildings in town before his
death, in 1966. In a biography of the architect, Emily Croll writes
that "his work appealed to a nostalgia for life in a bucolic Colonial
His first independent project, in 1923 or 1924, was a residence for
John Gale Hun, founder of the Hun School. He also built the campus of
the original Hun School on Stockton Street. Bauhan’s houses, built in
the Colonial Revival style, are distinguished, writes Croll, by the
way that they appear to have been expanded over a period of time.
Appearing modest from the curb, a walk to their backyards reveals
wings and attached structures that appear to be additions.
Many of Bauhan’s homes were designed for Princeton professors and
alumni. David Covin is far too young to have commissioned a Bauhan
house, but the Princeton alumnus, Class of 1991, who works on Wall
Street, did buy one, on the corner of Elm Road and Hodge Road.
Covin lives there with his wife, Beth, a busy stay-at-home mother of
three young children, who previously worked as a bond trader for
"The longer we live in this house, the more we love it," says Beth
Covin. She praises its light-filled rooms, family-friendly lay-out,
and sensible ceiling height – nine feet. "In newer houses builders put
in two-story family rooms and 11-foot ceilings," she says. "They’re
noisy. I like this house because it offers privacy. It’s calm,
peaceful, and serene."
Covin, a graduate of William and Mary (1983), in fact, likes
everything about the house, which she and her husband bought in 1998.
Shortly after they moved in, they hired Princeton builder Lewis Barber
to renovate it. Newly pregnant with her first child, Covin
nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed working with Barber to achieve just
the house that she wanted for her family.
More and more enamored with the house, she and her husband decided to
build its mirror image just across the street. Members of her
husband’s family were to live there, and did so for a short time. The
six-bedroom, four-bath house is now on the market for $3.3 million,
listed by Callaway.
The family’s relationship with Barber gave them the confidence that a
Bauhan house could be built in the 21st century. The lot, a long,
rectangular property of .67 acres had been occupied by what Covin
describes as a "1940s pre-fab house." Permits were applied for, the
old house was torn down, and construction began in April, 2004. The
Covins decided that they did not need an architect for anything but
the code drawings required by the borough.
"Rolf Bauhan built these incredibly gracious, livable houses," she
says. "We just followed his lead. We wanted a house that would look
like it had always been on Hodge Road."
At the same time, she knew that the house would have to have the
basics of a modern family house. In her view, that means five bedrooms
and a three-car garage. That was Barber’s mandate, to build a "21st
century Hodge," to be respectful of the Colonial Revival style, but to
create a modern floor plan.
Her own house is made of stone, but Covin, who has spoken with the
original owner’s daughter, knows that each stone had been hand-picked
by the owner. Duplicating it would be impossible. The new house was to
be made of brick. New brick would not do, however, and Barber was able
to find 25,000 old bricks that had once adorned a 19th century home in
Upstate New York. Using skilled masons, he layered the bricks the way
Bauhan’s craftsmen would have – alternating a whole brick with half a
brick. Windows were placed symmetrically on three sides of the house,
facing south and west, "where you would expect a window to be," says
The sills and keystones are limestone, and the leaded glass in the fan
window above the front entryway was made by stained glass craftsmen
Covin found in Lambertville. The wide front steps are made of
bluestone from the house that had been on the property, and the front
door is an exact match of the one on Covin’s house. "I asked the
people at Hamilton Supply if they could match my door, and they did,"
she says, appreciating the difficulty of the task. Also difficult was
the construction of custom railings in the house, a task taken on,
says Covin, "by the only two guys who do it in New Jersey and
The effect Covin and Barber sought has been achieved. From the
outside, the house indeed looks as completely at home as any house on
Hodge Road. In a few years, when the landscaping grows in, it will be
hard to tell it apart from houses that have stood there for a century.
Inside, the house retains many elements of a Bauhan house, but with
modern twists. There is a large kitchen, complete with center island,
a second floor laundry room, an unfinished attic that could contain
two more bedrooms and a bathroom, and, downstairs, a basement with
10-foot ceilings – the ideal space for a media room.
Covin tried to keep a 1900s feel to the bathrooms. They are white and
their fixtures are simple. But there is a "humongous" shower in the
master bedroom. There is also a free-standing bath tub that indeed
harkens back to the era of the Saturday night bath ritual.
Out back, there is a terrace – Bauhan was very big on outdoor living
spaces – as well as a heated three-car garage.
"Rolf Bauhan is famous for livable, beautiful, understated homes,"
says Covin. She is satisfied that that is just what Barber has
delivered. Does she ever consider moving across the street and
settling into it?
"No," she says, "but my husband has." The brand new, efficient heating
and cooling systems and the lack of maintenance headaches that come
with a new house appeal to him." But Covin will not be moved.
"I love my house," she says of her Bauhan. "We were married here. We
brought all three children home here."
Now she has the added pleasure of looking across the street and
enjoying her home’s mirror image – a fitting homage to Bauhan.