Monday, May 20, 2013

Rush Creek Village, the Pepinsky house, a personal history, Hal Pepinsky 052013

In case you come to visit and I haven't told you already, here's what I wrote for the guide for a state preservation annual meeting tour of local homes, which is a lot easier for you to read than to hear me say it:

From: Pepinsky, Harold E.
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 6:18 PM
Subject: a little personal history
It will also save time if people know about my history of the house so I can just describe the house and layout of RCV when they get here.  Feel free simply to pass this along to the visitors in advance, perhaps even at registration if you still need to attract people:

I'm Hal Pepinsky.  I started first grade in the Worthington school system in 1951 when my parents and I moved from Pullman, Washington, when we moved into an apartment a mile down the road from the Rush Creek home my wife of 39 years, Jill Bystydzienski, and I moved into, after a good deal of restoration, two years ago this September; I transferred to University School at Ohio State in the fall of 1957, when my parents and I moved into the house you are about to visit.  The house, and the guest house I helped mix mortar for that was finished in 1959, were designed for me and my parents, Pauline and Harold B. (I'm Harold E.) Pepinsky over about a 2-year period of reviewing and adjusting preliminary plans, until we moved into the completed house in 1957.  It was our first, and my parents' only owned home.  My dad died in 1998.  Three years ago this summer, my mom moved to The Laurels of Worthington, just a mile up the road, where I join the director, Kristine, for weekly singalongs, and my mother slips peacefully and steadily into another world.  She will be 94 June 27.  I am 68.

My parents were research psychologists who got Fulbrights and a Guggenheim to spend 1961-62 in Trondheim, Norway, for which University School gave me credit enough for high school graduation.  Five days after we returned home, I went away (to Michigan) to college.  In intervening years, I, then Jill and then our daughter Katy too, visited the house many times.  I began teaching criminal justice full-time (trained in law and sociology) in 1970.  In 1976, I started my final job, in the department of criminal justice at Indiana University in Bloomington.  In 1998 after Katy had grown up and moved on, Jill moved from teaching sociology at Franklin College, to directing the women's studies program at Iowa State in Ames.  In 2006, she was hired in her current position as chair of women, gender and sexuality studies at Ohio State.  She chose a condo in Worthington, a mile the other side of where my mom now resides.  In 2009 I sold the house Jill and I had bought in Bloomington in 1977 as soon as I could after becoming eligible for early retirement, and after 12 years, finally got to live with Jill again. It was her idea that we move back to my childhood home.  I resisted on grounds that it would be like living in a museum.  By the time we moved, I had gotten used to looking forward to the prospect.  I never dreamed of feeling so truly at home.  When we moved in, I thought this first house of ours was pretty neat, but as my mother (who played muse to Ted van Fossen in designing our place) used to say to me, "You don't live visually."  Times have changed.  I am noticing patterns and details and siting and unfolding of wildlife just 3 blocks' routine walk from the center of old Worthington (chartered between North, South, Evening and Morning Streets in 1803; Rush Creek land and Colonial Hills annexed by Worthington only in 1952; Colonial Hills Elementary School opened in 1954; Wakefield and Freeman houses built in 1954; Rush Creek Village platted and incorporated in 1955, with the first lender in Worthington not to recognize red lining).  I'd like to begin your visit with our just sitting in the living area (there's no living ROOM), the geo-center of Ted's design, from which I can explain the orientations of the house, guest house, and surrounding houses (also with roofs sited topographically) in our community.

Tina Wakefield lives in the house where she cared for her mother Martha until Martha's last hospital stay.  She holds her parents' Rush Creek legacy sacred.  She would like you to know that she does not welcome you to come in only because her mother would be ashamed of how deteriorated the house has become.  Tina has neither the authority nor the money to do what needs to be done herself, and is something of a state of mourning over it.  I and many members of the Rush Creek community share that sadness.  Know that there is a gathering will to fulfill a dream of Rush Creek Company buying the house and turning it into a community center, as for instance for architectural workshops and conferences...and parenthetically, perhaps to save the first house that Ted van Fossen designed, built in 1940 for the Gunnings at 7595 East Broad Street, now also deteriorated and up for sale to be razed, for the 2 wooded lots to be used commercially.  My mother was aware of what was happening long enough to see the native planning, design and construction by the Columbus-born Martha, Dick and Ted, begin to get the appreciation and respect it so deserves.

Ted's slowness in perfecting Rush Creek designs for the original owners was a source of considerable frustration.  I am now beginning to appreciate just how painstaking and meticulous every detail of Ted's design is.  Ted spent a lot of time in our home; he loved to bring friends and hang out here when he was visiting town.  He used to talk about his struggle "to figure out what works."  I'm here to tell you it works, and I feel blessed to return here, where I hope to be when I die.  Talk about coming home...

I'm very much looking forward to showing off Ted, Martha and Dick's legacy to you.  Welcome!  love and peace--hal

Hal Pepinsky,, skype name halpep, "Peacemaking" at
519 Evergreen Circle, Worthington, OH 43085-3667, 1-614-885-6341


  1. Hal, truly you are a man of peace and a great spirit.
    Thank you for showing the human perspective of organic architecture.
    I am honored to have played a small part in finally providing for you (finally!) another format of the wonderful story of Rush Creek Village...and great spirits like Ted, the Wakefields, your parents, and you and Jill.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you again in the coming year.

    --John (Steffanie's husband).

  2. Thank you Hal for the recognition of my care for mother, no one else has even said thanks. I hope RCV can protect my mothers work and life dream from people that don't get it.