Richmond is house to various historic, effectively-acknowledged neighborhoods. It additionally has its share of hidden gems – neighborhoods you can’t imagine you’ve by no means heard about when you’ve seen them.
Dianne Rand had that have.
Roughly 30 years in the past, she generally visited the Highland Hills group in Bon Air for board conferences held for her son’s college, Southside Montessori. She admired the homes’ elegantly easy, Midcentury Fashionable designs, and she or he informed herself, idly, that sooner or later she’d purchase a home there.
Flash-ahead 10 years. Rand was now an empty-nester and searching to purchase a brand new home. So she visited Highland Hills and stumbled onto a home available on the market. She launched herself to the proprietor, an architect, and he gave her a tour of the home.
“I fell in love with it,” Rand mentioned.
Shortly afterward, she purchased the home.
Likelihood is, you’ve by no means heard of Highland Hills. It’s a small group of 5 streets close to Forest Hill Avenue. (The streets are Flodden Circle and Ben Nevis, Robert Bruce, Greenock and Halidan drives.) If she hadn’t stumbled upon it, Rand may not have heard about it both.
“It’s a effectively-stored secret,” she mentioned.
The neighborhood holds a singular place in Richmond’s architectural historical past although: It’s the world’s solely Midcentury Fashionable improvement.
And it’s about to get much more consideration, at a time when Midcentury stylish is gaining a brand new era of followers. Fashionable Richmond, a gaggle that organizes excursions of Fashionable-type residential and industrial buildings, will function Highland Hills in its inaugural Fashionable Richmond Week.
Occasions will embrace a tour of the WRVA constructing designed by Philip Johnson and a panel dialogue about Virginia Commonwealth College’s new Institute for Up to date Artwork constructing. The week-lengthy celebration of Richmond’s Fashionable-type structure will finish with a block occasion and home excursions in Highland Hills.
Rand’s home will likely be open to attendees through the tour.
“Richmond has some nice examples of Fashionable residential structure, nevertheless it solely has one Midcentury Fashionable neighborhood,” mentioned David Bass, a board member of Fashionable Richmond. “So once we determined to have a Fashionable Richmond Week, we thought showcasing Highland Hills can be excellent.”
For extra data, go to modernrichmondtour.com.
A partnership in Modernism
So how did Richmond, within the depths of its love for the Colonial Revival type, change into house to a Midcentury Fashionable subdivision? It got here down to a partnership between a builder-developer in Lafayette, Ind., and a Fashionable architect in Washington, D.C.
By the early 1950s, Lafayette-primarily based Nationwide Properties Corp. had perfected the method for prefabricating the parts for inexpensive properties offsite and assembling them shortly in communities they developed round america.
“The corporate adopted the auto meeting-line strategy and will produce all of the parts for a 2,000-square-foot house in seven minutes,” mentioned Steven M. Reiss, a Richmond-primarily based architect and a board member of Fashionable Richmond.
In 1953, the corporate, by then the biggest pre-fab house producer in america, employed Charles M. Goodman, a Washington, D.C.-based architect, to present Fashionable-type designs for its developments. By then, Goodman had labored on a variety of tasks, “from customized-designed homes for Washington’s literati to avant-garde suburban subdivisions and complicated city renewal tasks for the center class,” Reiss mentioned.
His most well-known works embrace the unique Nationwide Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington Nationwide Airport) and the Hollin Hills group in Alexandria.
“On the peak of his profession, from 1955 to 1966, Goodman was thought-about the Washington space’s preeminent Midcentury Modernist,” Reiss mentioned. “He was an area determine with nationwide stature and worldwide acclaim.”
Goodman’s work as a consulting architect for Nationwide Properties ran from 1953 to 1958, throughout which period the corporate purchased a parcel of land in Bon Air and started engaged on Highland Hills. Goodman supplied the corporate with home designs that “could possibly be configured into any of 32 flooring plans with tons of of exterior variations,” primarily based on the homebuyers’ preferences, Reiss mentioned.
Even with the variations, the homes in Highland Hills share widespread design parts – “low-sloped roofs with beneficiant overhangs, horizontal siding, flat-roofed carports, large expanses of floor-to-ceiling home windows and distinctive chimney designs,” Reiss mentioned. “Basically, Goodman created an architectural equipment-of-components, offering choices for the proprietor however at all times inside the Modernist vocabulary.”
When work on the event wrapped up, it provided one thing Richmond had beforehand lacked: “an inexpensive, Fashionable-designed house improvement shut to the town, that was deliberate to encourage interplay and social contact among the many residents,” Reiss mentioned.
Dwelling stats and gross sales
Highland Hills has 83 properties designed by Goodman, in addition to six properties that have been constructed later and weren’t part of the unique improvement. Most properties vary from ,400 to 2,000 sq. toes, mentioned Andrea Levine, an actual property agent with One South Realty and a cofounder of Fashionable Richmond.
Homes usually promote within the mid- to high-$200,000s. The newest itemizing bought for greater than the asking worth after being available on the market for 2 days final month, primarily based on MLS information.
“These homes are undervalued for what they're,” Levine mentioned. “Empty-nesters admire the one-degree residing choices, and millennials love the homes as a result of they’re inexpensive and hip.”