The creation of artist Wayne Trapp, the "Cave House" located in Concord Township, Ohio, is the stuff of 1970's modern housing dreams.
Driving through Concord Township, you might come across a structure that looks like it’s from a forgotten sci-fi movie. It rolls and swells in every direction, with curves everywhere, and circular windows peppered throughout. But this is no movie set. It’s a private home that goes by the name Chant Du Cygne, which translates to “Swan Song”. Locals have a less grand name for it, but it’s still appropriate: The Cave House.
The home was the creation of artist Wayne Trapp, who studied art at Ohio University, and became a prolific abstract sculptor. In 1969, at age 34, Trapp was commissioned by his then-girlfriend’s family to create an entire house that would be able to a provide room enough for an adult couple and seven children.
A sculpture you can live in
Never building a house or stepping foot in an architecture school didn’t dissuade Trapp, who proceeded to draw up plans for a completely one-of-a-kind home. The house would have no straight lines, but flow like an organic object. The finished result could be described like a prehistoric cave, built by a futuristic society.
Once Trapp had plan in place, and a location secured, he placed in ad in the classified section of every regional college paper, offering: “five dollars a day, room and board, and the experience of a lifetime”. Soon he had a crew of enthusiastic long-haired helpers to put his ideas into action. They began construction on Earth Day, April 22nd, and began the process of bending rebar to serve as the home’s skeletal frame. By attaching wire mesh to the framework, the team troweled on wet cement, two inches thick, to create the curved walls. It took them a little under a year to complete, with the final day of construction being celebrated by a Thanksgiving dinner in 1970.
Stepping through the door
At roughly 3,400 square feet, the five-bedroom house stretches like a long corridor that twists and turns in unexpected ways. With the exception of the smaller bathroom, there are no doors to impede your movement through the space. Enter the front door, and you’ll find yourself next to a sunken “conversation pit” with a wood-burning fireplace. Nearby is a living area of sorts, with sofas and chairs, alongside the glass doors that lead to the back patio. Turn around, and you’ll see the kitchen counter, with light provided by what look like stalactites from the ceiling. Past the kitchen is the master bedroom, with a raised area for the bed. A side passage leads to an in-ground shower where you can gaze into a (privately walled-off) garden area.
The rest of the home is dedicated to children and play, with small beds built into the wall, some bunk-style, some like tubes, and others more spacious insets placed within the walls. Go into the home’s main play area at its furthest end, and hidden passages lead up into reading nooks.
Even the exterior seems devoted to play, as you can walk up the exteriors sloping chimney, and travel the length of the house’s roof like an alien landscape.
Keeping the dream alive
After the family gave up the house in 2000, Rick Kristoff, a construction worker who loves unique spaces, and is self-described as “a little different”, saw the house for the first time after being told about its sale by a friend. He immediately fell in love with the home, and was quick to buy it. Now he not only lives in Chant Du Cygne, but is restoring it to its original glory, piece by piece.
If you are curious to see the house yourself, Kristoff loves having visitors come by. When he sees people slowing down passing his come, he’ll come out and wave them inside. To him, it’s sharing an amazing piece of art. “You can feel the hand of the artist.” said Kristoff. “You don’t just stand back and look at it. You live in it.”
The Cave House is located at 7245 Cascade Road, Concord Township.