New Old Homes: Building Historically

Developers are increasingly creating communities of historically-styled homes that aim to mimic small towns. But many are finding it is hard work to avoid a theme park feel.
May 3, 2009, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"'Even if they're well built, a neighborhood full of Georgian colonials is a monotonous place to be,' says Russell Versaci, a Middleburg, Va., architect who is designing traditional farmhouses for historic-style neighborhoods and is the author of 'Creating a New Old House.' And some architects are skeptical that the cost and quality level of today's workmanship will allow these developers to make convincing reproductions.

Yet developers are trying hard. North of New York City, a Dutch company is building 23 homes modeled after 17th century Dutch architecture and using post-and-beam construction, an antique building technique that shuns nails. The developer of the community, called Brook in Waterland, even has imported European artisans, including wood carvers and faux-painters. Another developer brags that his 420-home community near Atlanta, called Serenbe, was largely built without using bulldozers in an attempt to replicate the landscape of an early 20th-century neighborhood.

Builders are betting that some people will pay more for the look of history."

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Published on Saturday, April 4, 2009 in Retail Traffic Magazine
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