Building the new Victorian home
by Shelley Daily
The dirt road to Ray and Karen Berg's home in Manchester takes visitors past farms, cornfields, and rolling green pastures to a light blue Queen Anne perched on a hill. The Victorian-style house and its pastoral setting could be straight out of nineteenth-century Manchester. Yet the home was built in 2003.
For Ray Berg (at left in photo), it's part of his dream of building "new old houses." After they built the Berg home, he and custom-home builder Jeff Proctor started a company called Manchester Victorians that caters to seekers of similar modern retro residential projects.
A retired engineering professor who is president of Manchester's chamber of commerce, Berg is a history buff as well as an experienced builder. He likes the look of Victorians but not the upkeep and space limitations of a historic home. In his own house, he found ways to replicate the old look with new materials, such as fiber-cement siding instead of wood. "The pitches and proportions still match a Victorian exterior," he says. "There are just many options and amenities available that let you have the distinctive look and charm of an old house to match modern needs."
Rather than the dark woods, antique-filled rooms, and narrow hallways of a typical Victorian, the interior of Berg's 3,500-square-foot home has a light and airy open plan. Where the parlor would be on the first floor is a master bedroom with bath. The turret room upstairs is an office. Extensive windows that look out on flower gardens and a creek are energy efficient. The carriage house is designed for cars, not horses.
The red barn out back was built in 2005 with post-and-beam construction, after Berg made a careful study of historic barns in the region. It closely resembles century-old local barns-except for its ¬climate-controlled workshop.
One of Berg and Proctor's first projects is an addition to an 1860s Italianate farmhouse. And they are talking with another client who wants to build a Queen Anne even larger than the Bergs' home.
[Originally published in December, 2008.]