New School Builders Guided By Old School Values

by | Mar 27, 2005

I’m generally underwhelmed by new construction. I could list a litany of reasons why, but a decided lack of quality craftsmanship, and thus character, are the leading causes.

However, as a new resident of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, my eyes are starting to open to the charms of new construction (done right). While Bluffton is a town rich in history, there are few structures that date to the 19th century or early 20th century. Neighboring Hilton Head Island has no such structures left standing that I’m aware of, as the island wasn’t opened to development until the 1950s. Therefore, new construction is the operative norm hereabouts. Some of it is slap-and-paste, as it is elsewhere in the country. But some of it is exceptional.

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that people will say, as they look upon the labor, ‘See! This our parents did for us.'” –John Ruskin

The above quotation is taken from Genesis Contruction’s web site, a local builder of fine quality homes. Ruskin was a noted art critic, Oxford professor and primary inspiration for the Arts & Crafts movement. The Arts and Crafts movement was part of the major English aesthetic movement of the last years of the 19th century, but in the United States the term is often used to denote the style of interior design that prevailed between the dominant eras of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, or roughly the period from 1910 to 1925.

A Genesis-built Lowcountry-style home on Spring Island, SC

Their are two styles of homes in the area that greatly appeal to me. One is the Charleston-style home, found in Westbury Park and Shell Hall. The other is the Lowcountry-style home found in Oldfield, Palmetto Bluff and other locations on- and off-plantation.