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Issue Date: April 2003 Issue

Where the Wild Homes Are

Diane DiPiero

House on Fire

How many people can slide down to the breakfast table in the morning?

Owner : Rob Moll
City : Cleveland
Built : 1900s
Purchased by Current Owner : 2002
Extremity Factor : 7

All Rob Moll was looking for was a place to grill. "I was living downtown, which I loved, but I didn't like not having a back yard," says Moll, a sales and marketing professional. "I love to be outside."

His younger brother told him about a unique dwelling in Tremont: an old firehouse that had been converted into a three-bedroom home five or six years earlier. An imposing wooden door with a heavy gargoyle knocker and a set of laughing gargoyles on the roof piqued Moll's curiosity.

Inside, he discovered original details such as exposed ductwork, brick walls, closets for fire coats and boots in the foyer and a fire pole smack in the middle of the living area. An open and airy two-story living space, a high-tech kitchen and a landscaped and fenced back yard leading to a two-car garage added to the home's appeal. Moll was sold.

He enjoys cooking in the large kitchen, which the previous owners designed to include a Viking range and an amoeba-shaped island with loads of workspace. "The kitchen is where people migrate," notes Moll, who has already hosted a few parties in the house since moving in last summer. A sliding glass door allows guests to filter from the kitchen into the back yard. A stone pond with a waterfall and a path made of recycled curb pieces from a nearby road make this urban space relaxing and inviting. "It's great for summer entertaining," says Moll.

Sturdy old steps that firemen once climbed now take Moll from the living room to a commodious master suite. It features a walk-in shower with multiple heads and a floor-to-ceiling shoe closet that Moll says he will never be able to fill. A loft space on the second floor serves as his home office.

Now that he's lived in the firehouse for several months, Moll is ready to put his personal stamp on the place. He's working with Cleveland architect Robert Maschke to update the interiors with fresh paint, refinished floors and some new furnishings while maintaining the structure's timeworn characteristics.

"It's got everything I need," says a pleased Moll. "And I've got gargoyles on my roof. What else could you ask for?"

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