Washington home shows unusual Dutch Cape style
WASHINGTON — The curved roofline on the front of the house on Bee Brook Road is an architectural touch more likely to be found along the coast of South Africa than the Connecticut countryside.
“The style is so different,” said Jeff Phillips, the listing agent for the property. “You don’t see it anywhere.”
Phillips said he’s seen only one other house like this in the Eastern United States, and that was in Louisiana.
The owner of the 4,200 square-foot home had the house built in 1987 in the style known as Cape Dutch, which has roots in her native Netherlands. For her, this was her dream home, Phillips said.
It wasn’t until he and his partner Mark Madonna ran a magazine advertisement for the house that they began receiving calls from South Africans living in the U.S. and learned of the popularity of the style in Cape Town, which was originally settled by the Dutch.
“They said, ‘It’s so appealing to me because it reminds me of our homeland,’” Phillips said.
The Cape Dutch style emerged along the South African coast in the 1600s, when Dutch settlers began moving into what eventually became a colony. The style is rooted in the medieval Netherlands and Germany, but also has touches from French Huguenot and even Indonesian architecture.
The settlers’ homes started as whitewashed farm houses made from clay or concrete with thatched roofs, but became more elaborate as the farmers became more profitable, especially in the wine region. In the 1800s, the style began to incorporate distinctive gables above the front door that are among the hallmarks of the design today.
“It’s all about the roofline,” Phillips said.
Symmetry is also a common element in Cape Dutch architecture. An equal number of windows and rooms generally flank the front door and gables. The houses are usually laid out in the shape of a U, H or T.
Phillips said the Washington house plays more off the European roots of the style than the houses found in Cape Town.
“The style and feel of this house is very European,” he said. “It’s very warm and elegant.”
The house is lined with windows that fill the interior with natural light and offer views of the surrounding 42 acres, as well as the nearby Spring Hill Farm and Hidden Valley preserve. A large stone terrace wraps around the back of the house and includes several sitting areas and a pool.
The house is on the market for nearly $3.5 million.