An Experiment in New Urbanism

The house Kim and Bruce are leaving was built in a picturesque development called The Ledges, a community planned in what's come to be known as New Urbanism. New Urbanism, or Traditional Neighborhood Planning, got its start in the early 1980s in the town of Seaside, Florida (which earned a bit of additional fame as the setting for the movie "The Truman Show"). Seaside was designed around an old-fashioned premise — people want to live in small-town settings, with local shops and services, that don't require a car for every errand.

The Ledges sits on a mountaintop plateau overlooking Huntsville. The plateau has spectacular views in all directions, and the natural topography of the area forms the different 'rooms' of the development. A world-class golf course establishes a perimeter and protects the views of the valley.

The Ledges was inspired by historic settlements in Alabama, including nearby Twickenham and Mooresville. Neighborhood shops, village greens, and tree-lined streets provide natural focal points for those towns, and that concept is apparent in the four distinct neighborhoods within The Ledges — Crest Park, Cumberland Estates, The Highlands, and Twickenham Village.

The four neighborhoods within The Ledges adhere to New Urbanism principles in that they are compact, mixed-use, and walkable. All feature the open green spaces, sidewalks, gas streetlights, and other historic touches that made the original towns so appealing. Front porches encourage daily conversations among neighbors and between homeowners and passersby. A village center offers a clubhouse, shops, and a variety of local conveniences within walking distance of all four neighborhoods. Local stores have living space above them, just as traditional town centers did.

The 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath house Kim and Bruce are leaving behind is in the village of Crest Park. It's a reproduction 1860s Victorian Italianate home that was designed by local architect Bill Peters. Kim and Bruce bought the house from the builder when it was about 75 percent complete, so they were able to select the finishing touches themselves. The finished product shows their respect for tradition as well as their quest for modern conveniences. Kim lovingly describes how she and Bruce made their choices, from the quartersawn oak hardwood flooring throughout the house (stained a mixture of dark walnut and ebony to achieve a dark, aged appearance) to the white Carrara marble surfaces in the kitchen, butler's pantry, and all the bathrooms.
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