Mystical Oasis

This mid-century modern courtyard home in an Ocala historic district continues to intrigue as passersby wonder what lies behind its double doors.

When renowned Ocala architect Hal Thomas Reid—known for his many visionary and award-winning designs, such as the iconic waterfall-themed The Cascades office complex, Concord Square and several banks—built his custom mid-century modern courtyard home in the historic district in southeast Ocala in 1974, it didn’t conform to the architecture of the surrounding residences. . 

The front of the house, with its flat façade (no porch or steps), had an aura of Eastern mystique, both then and now. 

Behind the intriguing entrance you will find a distinctively unique three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a sprawling open-concept living and dining room area, custom windows that bathe the space in warm sunlight, a wood-burning fireplace and cozy nooks, all nestled around an interior 442-square-foot courtyard that is a stunning focal point.

Reid, who also designed the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) building on the square (formerly the Ocala City Library) and the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce building that was razed to make way for the Ocala Hilton Garden Inn on the square, had been inspired by Japanese courtyards during travels with his wife, Barbara. 

“Even with a meager and small house, they would always have a front courtyard, not always, but mostly,” he explains. “In cities where you’re in a cityscape, you have a very limited distance around your house. They would create a courtyard in the front and enjoy that space from the inside. Where Western man wants to tout all his wonderful things, wants to show off on the street, the Japanese took that space and used it and that’s always inspired me.”

Reid notes that the property “had been sitting there for ages and the city wouldn’t let anybody build on it because of some restrictions. It was half of two or three lots, and I finally convinced them I could do it.” 

“It was, I think, 78 feet deep and 130-something feet long and you had 25-foot setbacks so there wasn’t an awful lot of space to build in,” he recalls. “But the oak trees and all the stuff around there, it was a beautiful site.”

Reid was born in Tampa. He graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor of arts in architecture in 1958. He founded Hal Thomas Reid Associates, P.A., in Ocala in 1969. He and Barbara lived in the home for 37 years, as is denoted on a “Reid House” brass plaque affixed to a marble base and recently installed at the property by the Historic Ocala Preservation Society. 

When asked if he has a preference for commercial or residential architecture, Reid shares in his raspy drawl, with a little chuckle at the end, “It doesn’t make any difference. If somebody wants to try to a unique design, I’ll do a teapot if I have to,” he offers during a phone conversation from his newly built home in Cedar Key, which is based on the original Ocala home. He says the Cedar Key house is smaller, but still has the same kind of “privacy and greenery” as the original residence. “That was sort of the basic idea of it all,” he offers.

Today, the grandaddy oak trees near the Ocala property are even more magnificent and the yard is graced with old-growth camellias and dark, cool stands of bamboo. Inside the double doors, the enchanting courtyard, with its towering trees and other greenery, comfortable seating and two resident bunnies, leads into the interior of the eclectically appointed 1,820-square-foot home.

In 2021, Deena Balogh and her husband, Michael Hogg, wanted to make some lifestyle changes and she found a listing for the house online. They toured the property and put in a bid, although there was already a contract on the home. They purchased it when the other contract fell through.

“It was all about the house,” she shares. “We didn’t necessarily have moving to Ocala in mind.”

Balogh and Hogg made some renovations to the home before they moved in. They were committed to preserving some of the original look and feel of the iconic residence, but they remodeled and modernized the kitchen and bathrooms, removed the popcorn ceilings and installed new flooring, walls, paint, wallpaper and fencing.

The courtyard remains a focal point and the open-floor concept begins with a welcoming sitting area, flanked by the dining room and another area occupied by Hogg’s drum set and stand-up bass, where, they say, Barbara Reid used to have her baby grand piano. One wing contains the master bed and bath, a cozy TV/library room with a fireplace, and a kitchen accented with stunning wood cabinetry. The opposite wing offers a guest bed and bath, an office and a music room. 

“Hal Reid seemed to have the same mid-century vibe as Frank Lloyd Wright,” notes Hogg.” The house reminded us of the mid-century modern homes in Herndon, Virginia, Westchester County, New York and Northern California.”

The couple kept some of the original furnishings, such as an 18-bulb light fixture over the dining room table and the table itself. They purchased mid-century modern pieces such as sofas and an arc light to accent the theme. 

“One of the most significant design elements of mid-century modern is the heavy use of walnut wood,” Balogh offers. “I had all of the custom cabinetry built with walnut in the kitchen and bathrooms. We chose each plank for its unique character and had them built by Magnuson Custom Woodwork here in Ocala.”

There are ample spaces throughout the home for the couple’s beautiful cockatoo Glorious Maximus, or “Max,” to call his own and he also loves to be outside.

Max is a rock star, Balogh offers, often drawing the attention of visitors passing by on foot or in golf carts. 

“Max introduced us to the neighborhood,” she says with a bright smile. “He is so exuberant, and traffic just stops. When we visit places such as the Downtown Market on Saturdays, we are known as ‘Max’s parents.’”

Balogh is from Storrs, Connecticut, and Hogg is from Newburyport, Massachusetts. Before coming to Ocala, they had homes in Clearwater and Port Richey.

“Deena started her career in medical instrument sales, which led her to starting her own company training doctors and nurses on how to use new medical equipment. She eventually sold her company and moved to Florida,” Hogg shares. “My career was in computer engineering (IT security and computer networks). We met in Florida and together started a new business that utilized both of our skill sets and backgrounds. We sold that business just about the same time we were moving to Ocala.”

Hogg is a musician and songwriter who plays gigs around Florida, records his own music and plays on other people’s projects. He has an identical twin brother who also is a musician and a sister who is an actress. 

Early in life, Balogh was a “horse person” and even bought an equine when she was 10 years old, without her parents’ knowledge, and had it delivered to her home in suburbia (she did get to keep it). She also was a beekeeper and started a nonprofit rabbit rescue that is still in existence in Massachusetts. 

Both Balogh and Hogg love the way their property combines living spaces with nature.

“It’s a unique home that just makes so much sense. It utilizes outside space and brings it inside. It’s perfect for the next phase of our lives,” Hogg says “It’s great for entertaining and its smaller footprint forces us to downsize and not accumulate so much stuff. There is just not enough room, and we are forced to live a little more simply. I think it’s a good lesson.”

Both Balogh and Hogg say they love their neighborhood and exploring their new city and the surrounding areas. 

“We love it here. It reminds me of St. Petersburg in the early ‘90s,” Hogg offers. “The artists and hipsters are starting to make their mark, and there are lots of interesting homes and 1920s bungalows. We think Ocala is a bit of an undiscovered treasure.”

Speaking of undiscovered treasures, “Just what is behind those doors?” is what people have been asking since the home was built—and it continues to be a source of fascination for locals.

“Often, when we are outside, people will come by and ask if they can look inside,” Balogh notes. “Even after all these years.” OS

Posted in Ocala Style FeaturesTagged

Share this post


What's New at Ocala Style

Remembering Ross Allen

The Ross Allen Reptile Institute was long a major attraction...

Learning to Love Slowcala

My wife, Amy, and I love to walk Rigby Floyd,...

Count Your Bugs

UF/IFAS Extension Marion County is encouraging area residents to take...

4WD Adventure

Twenty two-person teams will tackle off-road park trails in this...

Driveable Destinations: Dunedin

With two state parks, links to Scottish history and a...

A Mix of Cultures in Clay

Stone tools can tell us a lot about our ancestors...