The late architect Don Hisaka did a lot of work around Greater Cleveland when his company was headquartered here in the 1960s and ’70s. But the 1968 house he designed and built in Shaker for his family is his most enduring legacy in these parts.
By Rory O’Connor
The Hisaka House was the City’s first truly contemporary house, upsetting decades-old Shaker housing conventions. At the time, it was the only house in Northeast Ohio to have an Honors Award from the American Institute of Architects.
Shaker Life featured the house in 2012. It was, and still is, owned by Dan Mansoor and his wife, Joyce Rothschild. In 2011, Hisaka came to town for an event called “Don Hisaka, the Cleveland Years,” arranged by the Cleveland Artists Foundation at the Beck Center for the Arts. He paid a visit to the house.
“He did a walk-through and spent a little time. It was fun to talk to him,” Mansoor told us in 2012.
The house is overwhelming in its charm, but not its size. At 3,200 square feet with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths – and no formal dining room, no basement, and no attic – it’s eminently suitable for four people or fewer, and particularly comfortable for those willing to eschew the luxuries of a traditional home for those of an architectural work of art.
It would be easy to envision this house, with all of its architectural precision, to be something of a museum rather than a home.
Not so, says Mansoor. “Making a house a home is not so much intentional as it is instinctive,” says Mansoor today. He and his wife raised two children in the house, now both grown. “It become a home by the spirit you put into it – family celebrations, sharing dinner together, things like that,” he says.
“And of course your own furniture and art help as well. Art is important to making it personal.”
As for becoming part of the larger community, the house’s location on the corner of Drexmore Road across from Plymouth Church makes it highly visible to the numerous pedestrians who often stroll by the house slowly to take it all in. Yet, Mansoor says, “we have a private courtyard. Hisaka in fact designed the courtyard for privacy.”