Posted in Features on September 16, 2008
Do you long for bygone days? Or, do you have a history or archeology streak hidden within your soul? Unfortunately, unless you like living in a cave (which is entirely possible), many residences haven’t lasted for more than 200 years, let alone for over two centuries. But, some neighborhoods have been around for a few millennium, and antiquity lovers can find a real estate investment in or near some of the oldest settlements discovered to date.
While some might dispute whether one region of the world holds older artifacts than others, the point to this list is to offer neighborhoods, cities and even entire regions that have been occupied continuously since their inception. Therefore, while the western U.S. might offer up the oldest human remains in the U.S. at 14,000-years-old, those nomadic cave-dwellers didn’t settle down in what is now known as the state of Oregon. Hence, Oregon didn’t make the list. (Neither did San Antonio.) Plus, while Rome may be older than Malacca, Malaysia, we wanted to offer a bit of worldwide variety for your reading pleasure. So, we included Malacca and avoided Rome and included the U.S. although this country is, by all worldly standards, architecturally young.
Just because a settlement is ancient, old homes in that area may not be available. In this case, we offer suitable alternatives. Available homes are new properties sited on old grounds, renovations, or properties located safely outside a politically volatile area or located as close as possible to uninhabitable ruins. Finally, although this list is numbered, this does not mean that we value one ancient habitat over another. We did, however, try to place the areas by age, with the oldest community listed first.
Posted in Features on September 10, 2008
- Olomouc, Czech Republic: In 2005, scientists confirmed that bones found in the Czech Republic represent the earliest human settlement in Europe, dating back about 30,000 years. This area already is known for the Mladec Cave paintings, and it’s easy to travel to the site from Olomouc, a city located just thirteen miles south. Olomouc is rumored to occupy a Roman fort site founded in the imperial period. Although a legend, archaeological excavations revealed remains of a Roman military camp from the time of Marcoman Wars close to the city. The ancient town of Olomouc ranks as the second most important and largest urban conservation area in the Czech Republic behind Prague; therefore, any home you may find in this area could hide historical artifacts beneath its foundation. You can view some Olomouc residential real estate, which currently ranges from Kc200,000 ($12,153.62 USD) to Kc62,867,345 ($3,820,330.35 USD).
- Paphos, Cyprus: Jericho, Palestine represents the world’s oldest known settlement, with significant archaeological remains dating back as far as 8000 BCE; but, like most risky investments, the atmosphere in the Middle East currently may prove too volatile for many real estate investors. Instead, you might look to the southwestern region of Cyprus as a possibility, a semi-peaceful area that would allow you to visit ruins from ancient Greece to Egypt (Turkey illegally occupies the northeastern section of this island). Cyprus alone offers artifacts that date back over 9,000 years, and the area of Paphos offers more than just beautiful sea views. This entire area was a Roman capital that dates from 1400 BCE. Plus, legend has it that the city is built on the spot where the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, was born. Enjoy everything that love and money can bring with this four-bed, four-bath executive suite with panoramic views, A/C, touch pad controls, underfloor heating, large pool, electric gates and designer kitchen for 1,550,000 Euro ($2,290,682.56 USD).
- Cadiz, Spain: Historians have long known that Phoenician traders founded Cadiz more than 3,000 years ago. Now, archaeologists believe they have found evidence that this city may be over 9,000 years old, which means that Cadiz could be Europe’s oldest inhabited city – the original Phoenician Gadir (meaning “the fortress”), or Gades in Roman times. The oldest artifacts were found sixteen miles southeast from Cadiz in 2007, but this Spanish city is surrounded by a sense of the centuries for miles. For instance, you can find a 200-year-old villa for sale just forty-six miles east of Cadiz in El Gastor. This villa, shown here, has undergone extensive renovation, yet the owners retained many of the original features. You’ll find beautiful old wooden beams in the bedroom and the bathroom, a wood burning stove and a large hallway upstairs with a seating area and French doors leading onto a small balcony. How much for a bit of history? A mere 129,000 Euros, or $190,894.76 USD.
- Along the James River, Virginia: Claims to the ‘oldest settlement’ title in the U.S. are rife with debate, and this contention would seem laughable when compared to the Middle East - except for evidence of Native American settlements. While it’s well known that St. Augustine, Florida claims to be the oldest settlement in the United States (Spain, 1513, evidence of Native American farming since 500 BCE) and the Oraibi Hopi Reservation in Arizona claims the oldest continuously inhabited settlement within the U.S. from 1100 CE, few historians have recognized the voices of the Monacan tribe. The Monacans lived in villages with palisaded walls, and their homes were dome-shaped structures of bark and reed mats. They would leave their villages every year to visit their hunting camps, they mined copper and buried their dead in mounds, which reveal 10,000-year-old artifacts. When the English arrived in Virginia, they pushed the Monacans west along the James until they were almost extinct. But, their descendants are here today, and the Monacan museum, located in Amherst, Virginia, provides testament to their survival. It is along the James that you’ll find Jamestown and Kecoughtan (now known as Hampton, the oldest continually occupied English settlement in the U.S.). This is where you’ll also find Shirley Plantation, which was built in 1613 (pictured here from a print c. 1900). This is the oldest plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638. The history lover can begin in Hampton, near Newport News on the Chesapeake, and work his way to Iron Gate along the James to find homes that easily meet the century-old mark and that have not been designated as historical relics. Some homes even survived the Civil War. But, the oldest homes, perhaps, can be found just west of Richmond, where the Huguenots (French Protestant refugees) settled on an abandoned Monacan Indian village in 1700. Occasionally, one of these early eighteenth-century homes will go for sale in Powhatan County. Prices for the average home in this county usually top at $600,000 USD.
- Schwyz, Switzerland: If you want to know what a timber house looks like after 800 years, take a look at the oldest timber building in Europe, the Niderost house in Schwyz, Switzerland. This house has been dismantled and is in storage, as the Swiss goverment wants to restore it to its original glory. But, visitors to this area can view another house of the same style from the same period, as the Bethlehem house - located on the Ital-Reding Estate - is open for tours. Schwyz is one of the founding cantons of Switzerland, but findings show that Schwyz has been settled for thousands of years. Artifacts that date 5,000 years have been discovered in the northern region of Schwyz in the Hurden and Freienbach areas on Lake Zurich. Individuals who wish to live in something other than a timber building in this region can find ultra-modern digs (price on request) that may, literally, sit on a future archaeological dig.
- Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico: Four-foot tall rust-colored clay pots and leather shoes mark the two major industries in this 3,500-year-old Mexican settlement, located approximately sixty miles south of Yucatan’s capital city, Merida. Originally settled by pre-Columbian Mayans, Ticul has represented North America’s oldest known settlement. After the Spanish conquest of Yucatan, Ticul was established as a Spanish colonial town in 1549. Ticul achieved the status of a city in 1847. Over half the population still speaks the Maya language as their first tongue, although Spanish is also understood. In this city, you will see the old - the Cathedral (shown here), colonial buildings, thatched roof Mayan homes - and some new - the open-air stage, hotels, restaurants, a market, a telegraph office, banks, pharmacies, medical assistance, Internet e-mail services, and tricycle taxis for hire. For individuals who seek tranquil living among ancient surroundings, yet who want to live near large-city offerings, Ticul could be the ticket. Or, if you prefer to live in the general area of Mayan ruins within four miles from Ticul, you might consider this abandoned hacienda. This property holds an existing wind-powered water pump, irrigation tanks, bebederos, corrals for horses and a cave with 1,00-year-old stalactites. While the buildings are in need of major repair, you can purchase the total package, including 907 acres, for a mere $550,000 USD.
- Asmara, Eritrea, Africa: Up until 2002, historians presumed that Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara, was 700 years old. But, scientists recently discovered an entire city under the outskirts of Asmara that dates back 3,000 years. This discovery would make Asmara the oldest settled agricultural community in Africa. The irony to this discovery is that Asmara’s architectural face was revamped during the twentieth century, as Italy (which occupied Asmara in 1889) rebuilt this capital city in the 1930s. The Italians used the city to experiment with new and radical designs, basically placing Asmara in the same light as today’s ultramodern Dubai. Growth continues in this area located south of Egypt and across the Red Sea from Yemen. New condo developments already have disrupted archaeological studies of Asmara’s ancient ruins. But, this growth allows residents to become part of African history in more ways than one. The lovely home shown here is a prime example of Asmara real estate, thoroughly modern “price upon request” living on the edge of priceless antiquity.
- Lamphun, Thailand: If you’re familiar with the saying, “older than dirt,” then you might want to consider purchasing vacant land in what is considered Thailand’s oldest city. The historic Asian town of Lamphun, if not the oldest city in Thailand, certainly is a contender for “longest continually inhabited settlement” in this country. The ancient fortified city was founded, according to legend, in 660 CE, almost six centuries before the nearby city of Chiang Mai and more than 1,000 years before the Thai capital was moved to Bangkok in 1782. Little remains of Lamphun’s ancient city walls, though the heart of the Old City is still surrounded to the north, west and south by well-preserved and tranquil lotus-filled moats. Surrounded by magnificent gum trees (shown in the photo here of the Lamphun - Chiang Mai road) and ancient Buddhist temples, Lamphun offers an ancient small-town feel yet offers the amenities provided by a nearby larger city. While beautiful homes can be had in and around Lamphun, the availability of unoccupied land for sale could provide the real draw for this ancient area. Investment in this particular piece of vacant land, located in Lamphun’s northern industrial district, runs at 25,000,000 Baht, or about $734,365.36 USD.
- Malacca, Malaysia: Located just south of Kuala Lumpur, the historically rich state of Malacca was founded by Parameswara, an exiled prince from Sumatra, in 1396. Strategically located on the ancient Asian spice route that linked China to India and the Far East, Malacca (also known as “Maleka”) provided sailors with a fiendly and open port as they passed by. Eventually, Malacca grew into a thriving trading center, but its independence was cut short by Portuguese colonization in the early sixteenth century. The Dutch then took control in 1641 and then the British in 1824. Although Malaysia declared independence in 1956, English, Dutch and Portuguese styles continue to strongly influenced the town’s architecture. Because the city originally was built from wood, there are no reminders of the power once wielded by the Malaccan Sultanate; however, along the shores of the Malacca River, the scene has probably changed little. Look especially for the Portuguese influence, as this country taxed housing by width. This policy accounts for a building that can be no more than twelve feet across but that can easily extend backwards two hundred feet, hiding an interior filled with a linear succession of high-ceilinged rooms and courtyards. One such replica of this type of architecture - on a lavish basis - is the bungalow shown here, designed with intricate geometry of roof planes and flooring (inquire for price).
- Old San Juan, Puerto Rico: If you’re a history lover, there’s no reason to live in San Juan unless you can live in the oldest part of this Puerto Rican island. This island was inhabited by Taino Indians until Columbus stumbled onto this island’s beaches in 1493 and named it San Juan. Unfortunately, no one knows just how long the Taino tribe lived here (or on any other Caribbean island), so there’s no way to know how long this island has been continuously occupied. Spain colonized the island in 1508 and moved the capital near the ocean, which makes this city the second oldest Spanish colonial city in the “old” New World outside Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Spain ceded the island to the U.S. in 1898. Old San Juan provides an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture, most of which has been beautifully restored. For example, this Old San Juan sweetie was built in 1808 and remodeled with new amenities. You’ll find four bedrooms, three baths and 4,119 square feet of space in three-story luxury living for just $2,950,000 USD.
Did you forever want to live in a tree house when you were younger? What better way to sleep than directly under the branches of a protective tree among the stars? And, while some tree houses are minimalist by their very small nature, today’s tree house architects have gone beyond small stature to include tree houses fit for hotel rooms, lodges and restaurants. Other tree houses, although small in scale, have risen to the ‘green’ challenge to become ideal tree homes that do little to no damage to its host tree.
Tree house fans, no matter how experienced (or not), can find hands-on information at the annual World Treehouse Association Conference. Michael Garnier, the owner of Out “N” About Treehouse Resort, holds this event every Columbus Day weekend. This conference typically attracts 40 to 60 people, ranging from builders like Mr. Garnier to novices itching to build their own houses among the stars. No matter if you want to purchase an existing tree house or build one for yourself, the value of learning from experts is priceless.
In the meantime, you can peruse the following list, which contains tree houses that are for sale, or tree houses that can be purchased as a mass-produced item or - simply - tree houses that you’d love to live in. Although this list is numbered, this does not mean that we value one tree house over another.
- The Manor: Andy Payne, director of BlueForest TreeHouses, is obsessed with building some of the most innovative and dynamic tree houses for his clients. He and his crew build tree houses that range from children’s fantasy playhouses to treetop lodges, hotels and restaurants. They have built their creations all over Europe from Greece to Italy and France, and Andy’s staff is fluent in French, German and Spanish. The image shown here is called, “The Manor,” a luxury tree house at its most sumptuous. The price tags for these crafted beauties range from £20,000 upward.
- Retirement Home: This retirement home was built in a live oak grove by the team at Treehouse Workshops. It is their largest project to date. This home contains 1,000 square feet and features a full bath, kitchen, running water and a washer/dryer. The railings and siding all were milled on site using felled standing dead oak. Everything in this home was lovingly hand built, including the windows and the stone fireplace. All total, this home took nine months to build. Treehouse Workshop homes usually range in price from $60,000 to “the sky’s the limit.”
- Alnwick Treehouse, UK: The refurbished Alnwick Gardens in the UK features this impressive structure, opened to the public in early 2005. The client, the Duchess of Northumberland, wanted to build an archetypal tree house out of a fairy tale, with an organic feel that would blend in with the trees and landscape. Everything had to conform to building regulations, fire codes and the Disability Discrimination Act. The house consists of a large restaurant with an open fire, meeting space and smaller outbuildings. Wheelchair accessible, the building also an expansive deck and a rope bridge loop behind the house. The building is held up with a combination of a huge network of wooden braces, concrete foundations and two concrete towers hidden within the design. This tree house was designed by Napper Architects and the concept drawings initially were produced by The Treehouse Company. The actual build was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine Limited at a value of £3.2 million.
- San Juan del Sur Tree House: At some point in your life, you might need to ask yourself whether you want to spend $299,000 on a home in Ohio or on a tree house on the beach in Nicaragua. Think about it - after you spend a day on your Pacific Ocean beach, you climb up for a refreshing dip on your pool and then relax in your hammock as you stare at your new home, which is supported by massive eucalyptus trees with a high curved ceiling that allows for natural air circulation. This home, therefore, contains a passive cooling system and includes solar heat as well. This home contains three decks, and one is completely covered. The parking area above the house is completely fenced with teak logs for privacy, and home itself is built of sustainable woods that blend beautifully into its surroundings. Designed by Matthew Falkiner, this 1900-square-foot home is built within a nature preserve only a few minutes’ drive down the hill to the beach. The house contains two bedrooms, two baths, huge 10×10 screened windows with an ocean view. All amenities are included, so you won’t be roughing it at all. In fact, you’ll only be twenty minutes from San Juan del Sur, a Nicaraguan resort community.
- Ewok Tree House: Tom Chudleigh made a name for himself a few years ago with his Free Spirit Spheres, Ewok-like structures that are suspended from trees. Originally designed as a spherical boat, these tree houses are built with wood and a fiberglass covering that offers waterproof exterior. The interior of the house features a working kitchen with accessories including microwave, refrigerator and sink, and can be tailored by including beds and bronze doors. While you now can purchase these spheres for $152,000 fully decked out, the budget-minded tree house fanatic can purchase other options from Chudleigh through his Web site. These choices range from the basic framework kit to the fiberglass-covered shell to all the add-ons including acrylic windows. If you don’t think you can hang your finished product, Chudleigh offers to hang or take down your house for a fee. Other services include assessment of groves and sites and custom designs.
- Waipio Valley Treehouse: If you know how difficult it is to gain a lease on property in Hawaii, or if you understand the ‘legwork’ it takes to gain access to said property when it crosses through other lands, then you’ll appreciate the price on Linda Beech’s tree house in Waipio Valley on the Big Island. First, available ‘fee simple’ (freehold) land in Waipio is slightly less rare than hens teeth. And, Linda did you a favor by snagging legal road access to her tree house through a court decision rendered in 1998. Once you meander along an abandoned sugar cane road, you’ll see your future property. Linda has stated, “The Treehouse was built by Steven Oldfather and Eric Johnson, who are better known for being excellent boat builders, and they did an outstanding job. It is built on stainless steel pins and it’s just as level now as when it was built in 1973. The tree was then estimated to be 175 years old, which now means that it’s well into its second century.” Plus, you have a toilet and shower and the views overlook Hiilawe waterfall. But, you moved too slowly - this magnificent tree house recently sold for a mere $1,050,000.
- Tree House on Ten Acres: At first glance, it appears that this family is trying to sell a 3,800-square-foot four-bedroom home on ten acres. But, don’t be fooled. You’re really buying a quality cedar siding tree house with cedar built-in bunks and cabinets with brass hardware. The tree house windows are double hung brown aluminum storms with screens, and it has a secure deadbolt lock and a battery-operated security alarm. The solar collector transmits electricity to the 12-volt cycle battery that powers a switch-operated ceiling light and cigarette lighter socket outlets. The view is amazing, as the tree house sits high above Paint Creek near an artesian spring and stream-fed trout pond. You also get that four-bedroom, four-car garage in this deal if you want it. All for the amazingly low price of $1,750,000.
- Treehouse B&B: Ok, so this ‘for sale’ property isn’t built up in the trees; however, this view and the name along with surrounding Douglas Firs, Cypress, Pacific Dogwood, and a multitude of other trees can offer a simulation of a tree house for those who are afraid to climb ladders and walk across swinging bridges. Although this building has a history of a bed and breakfast inn, it is being sold as a primary residence complete with lake views, bears, and an easy thirty-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. This is an ideal home for the sports-minded, as golfing, hiking, mountain-biking, water sports and more are all waiting outside the front door. Call the current owners for a viewing if you’re interested in the $1,239,000 price tag.
- O2 Treehouse: Possibly one of the most eco-friendly treehouses around, the O2 Treehouse serves many purposes. It is a place for reflection, social gathering and day-dreaming; for observing nature, holding group meetings and team-building activities. Perhaps its most intriguing aspect is its ability to adapt to large-scale design and implementation projects. It uses 100% sustainable materials and does not harm the growth of the host tree in any way. It will fit in any tree, single trunk, multi trunk or even multiple trees in a forest. Hanging like a giant mushroom above a forest floor, the O2 Treehouse even comes in stealth mode, much like the ‘predator.’ Dustin Feider, the designer of the O2 Treehouse, has set out to revolutionize not merely tree houses but the entire concept of habitat. For Feider, the tree house is a symbol of the entire sustainability movement and a beacon of hope for man’s survival. While this unit isn’t for sale, a trip to his site will reveal how the O2 Treehouse is built. This catalog also supplies insights into various models, including an on-ground model and a model designed for areas that don’t contain trees.
- Treehouse Chronicles: There are times when you realize your age, your ambition, your competition and your fear of heights. At this point, you may be satisfied with kicking back, reading a great book on how to build a treehouse and just take a nap. In this case, the Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft might be your cup of tea, as the house shown is the main subject of this book written by the “treehouse guy,” Peter Lewis. The tree house is a 300-square-foot timber frame hideaway, and the book is a large format coffee-table book that has gone on to win seven national book awards. In the meantime, you can follow the link to Mr. Lewis’ blog, where you can find more photos and details about the house and the book. Once you read on, your age, ambition, competition and fear of heights may mean nothing to you - after all, you deserve as much as Peter Lewis, right?