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Tomorrow’s House Today: Hillsdale Tour Goes Contemporary

By Amy Krzanik

You can “step back into the past” by viewing historical artifacts or touring ruins and relics, but can you travel forward into the future? I would argue that you can, and you can do it next weekend, on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Hillsdale, New York. The Hillsdale Historic House Tour Committee has turned its popular tour on its head and this year will offer glimpses into six “Historic Houses of the Future.”

The committee, whose last tour was held in 2014, previously had featured homes located along the same street for easy viewing. But, as with all historic things, they’re not making any new ones and a member suggested focusing on contemporary “green” homes instead.

“We had two criteria,” says committee member Meg Wormley. “The homes had to be excellent examples of 21st century design and/or renovation, and they had to be energy efficient.”

You’ll need a car for this year’s venture, but you’ll be rewarded with some fine architectural specimens, and all the behind-the-scenes information, to boot. In two cases, the owners of the houses are the architects and they’ll be there to talk about their designs. Another owner will be on hand to discuss the green aspects of his home and will even take guests into the basement to see how it all works.

A box lunch from Simons Catering is included in the $40 tour price and will be served under a tent at the Roe-Jan Library, itself a “green” building. During lunch, architects from Hudson-based firm BarlisWedlick will give the talk “Classic and Modern: Designing Homes in Columbia County for the 21st Century.” Proceeds from the tour will go toward the preservation of the East Gate Toll House on Rt. 22 in Hillsdale, and provide funding to repair and maintain some of the historic cemeteries in the town.

So, without further ado, let’s meet our homes:

1. Designed by architect Joel Turkel, whose Axiom houses are customized pre-fabs that use minimal material and energy to build, this sleek, energy-efficient home utilizes geo-thermal and solar panels.

2. Architect Bruce Coldham designed this home which was built by the owners, Steven and Kathy Bluestone. It’s been certified by the Passive House Institute US, a highly sought but very difficult certification to earn. The home was built using autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks, which are up to 75% lighter than conventional concrete blocks and are superior thermal insulators. In addition to being passive, the home is “energy positive,” meaning the house produces more energy than it requires annually.

3. This window-filled home, inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and fully realized by the owner-architect and his wife, is a stylish contemporary with a commanding mountain view, a pond with a story of its own and a whimsical interior.

4. This glass cabin in the woods, a lifelong dream of the architect-owner, blends the work of the California modernists with the charm of a single-pitch roof popular on local barns. Sixteen glass doors line the long sides of the house so that every room has access to the outdoors and the deck that wraps the house.

5. The newest home on the tour is a recently completed house with two thick zigzag walls under a faceted roof, which results in a versatile two-level floor plan. The home is super insulated and strategically sited so as to use the sun as its major source of energy. This Net Zero house by architect Stephan Green produces as much energy as it consumes.

6. The last house on the tour is a completely redesigned, renovated and modernized 1974-era home that now boasts clean lines and sharp angles, in a palette of primarily shades of gray and black.

Tour tickets are $40 each and can be ordered online or at Passifora or The Hillsdale General Store. All tickets will be available for pickup at Hillsdale Town Hall on Aug. 12 starting at 10:45 a.m.

Patron & Sponsor Tickets
Patron tickets are $100 per person and include a cocktail party on Sunday, Aug. 13 from 5-7 p.m. at an additional contemporary home not on the tour. Sponsor tickets are $150 per person and include the tour, entry to the cocktail party, and your name or business listed in all event material. For more info., contact

Tour and patron tickets must be ordered by Aug 7. Sponsor tickets must be ordered by Aug. 4.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 08/01/17 at 12:25 PM • Permalink