Charles & Barbara
How Apeldoorn Came to be…
In the summer of 2005 I purchased a beautiful 2 1/2 acre property in the North Fork Valley of Black Mountain, North Carolina. Bordering the Asheville Watershed, it is nestled in a small valley that was once a cattle farm. It was a hidden gem that had been overtaken by invasive bittersweet and thorny multi-flora rose.
Over the next 10 years, Charles (my husband) and I worked to clear the land. As a counterpoint to my work as a nurse in a local hospital, this had some therapeutic benefits! As grueling as battling through thorny multi-flora can be, there was great satisfaction in revealing the underlying beauty of the property.
While I was in the process of working on the property, I made a trip to my cousins and extended family in Ireland. While there, I was smitten with the simple solidity, thatched roofs, and cozy interiors of the homes I visited, and I returned with the desire to build an Irish Cottage on the property; I guess it is in my bones.
Great Grandfather Maguire from Lurgan, Northern Ireland
Great Grandmother Brennan Maguire also from Lurgan.
Grandmother McKeown from County Armagh, Northern Ireland
I remember my Grandmother McKeown talking about her thatched roof house in Ireland that had dirt floors. They burned peat for heat.
She came to Paterson, NJ at 18 years old and worked in a silk mill. She came to America because she was told the “streets were paved with gold”. As it turned out, she and my grandfather McKeown (who she met in the USA) bought their own home in NJ .
The streets were not paved with gold but they did have wood floors and central heat in the kitchen.
Following my trip to Ireland, my sister and I visited EarthHaven, a local intentional community that is populated with a number of unique and hand-built homes, with curved corners, arched passageways, and hand-rendered surfaces that gave the homes an almost fairytale quality.
It was on this visit to EarthHaven that I learned about hempcrete, a building material that had only recently come into use in the USA.
In researching the material, I became fascinated with the health and environmental benefits that this building method affords. A mixture of industrial hemp stalk and hydraulic lime, hempcrete has unique properties in the mitigation of mold and moisture and has been used in various forms in Europe for generations. I wondered if this might be a good fit for what I was hoping to create.
As part of my research into hempcrete, I attended a workshop being given locally by Tim Callahan, who ultimately became the designer for the house. Tim thought that hempcrete would be well-suited to the architectural style that I was trying to achieve, but when I told him that I wanted to incorporate the antiques and various elements that I had been collecting for the years, he was a bit dubious; he was not sure the was the best way to go about designing a custom home.
Tim and I had long conversations about what I hoped to achieve before agreeing that we thought we could make my dream come true.
It takes a village to birth a building- I had a clear vision of how I wanted this new home to feel, and Tim and I spent about six months in the design process and went through several plan variations before beginning construction.
In addition to the amazing contractors, sub-contractors and tradespeople, Charles and our dear friend Kent Patton did the fine trim and endless finishing touches on the house.
In the end, this was a labor of love for all of us, and it came together almost miraculously.
I hope you enjoy your stay,