Can’t find/afford an old house? Try this

newoldThis article by Dale Hrabi in the Wall Street Journal called to mind my dear old neighborhood in D.C. and our friends the van der Taks (three sons, Steven, Derek and Laurens, whose ages closely matched those of me and my two brothers). Their marvelous old Sears Catalog house was up a few doors from our modest semi-detached house on Rodman Street, next to woods we used to play in, called Melvin C. Hazen Park, an offshoot of Rock Creek Park. Steven and his wife Merran live in a vernacular country house they built on the coast of Portugal.

Russell Versaci and others are making available today charming period houses with interiors modeled for today’s lifestyles. He and I met for breakfast a few years ago at the Biltmore in Providence, and I wrote two reviews of his books, which I’ll post separately as “blasts from the past.” (You can go to and get PDFs of them, if you have the patience.) At the time, Versaci said he was contemplating a move into “authentic” prefab houses, which would satsify a market for old houses that was often frustrating to potential buyers because so many require extensive renovation or, having had it, are quite expensive. This WSJ article, sent to me by David Andreozzi, reveals that Versaci has made the plunge, along with others.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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