Set at a prominent location within the Hartness Community’s attractive pedestrian-friendly village, amidst the backdrop of an unspoiled natural setting, Pat and Mary Lou Hartness’ home is helping to shape and inform the civic goals of the town they are creating.
By Brendan Blowers
“The development of Hartness is really to foster that sense of community,” says Mary Lou, “where neighbors can walk to each other across a common lawn. It’s attractive and appealing.” As a Traditional Neighborhood Development, every feature from the width of sidewalks to the height of the porches is purposefully scaled.
Appealing enough that Mary Lou and her husband Pat realized that if they were going to promote this lifestyle of New Urbanism, they should also live it. “It seemed logical and desirable for us to become a part of that and to build a new house,” she says, “with this development that we’re involved in.”
The Hartness’ former home will become part of the14 community’s new boutique hotel with plans to open in fall of 2022. It offered Mary Lou and Pat the opportunity to downsize and enjoy a literal front porch view of the development they started creating with land purchases several decades ago.
Completed in 2020, the home faces the grand lawn, a unique community feature that creates an expanse of grass and trees connecting all the estates in this phase. “We were living pretty isolated before,” says Mary Lou, “except for deer and other animals.”
Hartness – A Connected Community
They were excited to enjoy close neighbors in the village-like atmosphere designed by Lew Oliver Inc. “The Hartness family is a pleasure to work with because they are a very enlightened family,” Oliver says. “We hope to leave an exemplary legacy project that creates a true model for human happiness.”
The neighborhood boasts 15 miles of walking trails and 180 of the 450 acres that make up the community will remain a nature preserve. Creating connected communities surrounded by nature has been a life’s passion for Oliver, whose bio describes him as an urbanist, master planner and designer. He’s been involved with the design of about 75 Hartness homes so far, including the footprint for this one.
“We have open porches, shared sidewalks, there’s a sense of neighborliness and the ability to connect,” says Mary Lou.
When they’re not socializing, the Hartness family enjoys an intimate, Charleston-scale courtyard with a water feature and garden. Graham Kimak Landscape Designs did the plantings, irrigation, and exterior lighting. The home’s u-shape plan allows the interior rooms to revolve around this private outdoor area. Every living space has either French doors that open out or large windows to bring the natural light in.
Greenville architect Tom Felton of Studio 511, who has worked on many homes for the Hartness family, worked on the finishing details for the home. The ceilings, cabinetry and built-in bookshelves display elegant woodwork. Archways connect the foyer to the main living areas and the ceiling detail in the dining area is reminiscent of the Regency Period.
Felton executed a blend of Arts and Crafts, English vernacular, a French-Norman slate roof along with bit of Greek Revival influence for entryways and the portico to create something very American, a comfortable amalgamation of historical context and influences.
The Hartness family brought with them pieces from their previous home, including several mirrors designed by Sarkis.
The interior is peaceful and neutral with a consistent warm tone. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Navajo White as suggested by interior designer Sarah Chastain. “I wasn’t sure I’d love it, but I find it very livable and pleasant,” Mary Lou says. The study breaks away from the monochromatic with a flourish of Caribbean teal, a color Mary Lou took note of in a magazine years ago. “I thought, this is the place for that color because it’s not a large room.” The small study boasts grand views of the nearby mountains.
The floors alternate between French white oak hardwoods and a checkered charcoal and cream limestone that also carries out onto the curved front porch. And it’s there, on the porch, watching children play tag in the green space, neighbors walking by with their dogs or seeing a father and son practice their golf swing on the common lawn that the true impact of what’s happening here comes into view.
Photography by Ben Ivins