In With the Old: Hemp House, the First Project of a Young Studio in the Catskills
The first house Brittany and Jordan Weller saved was in Houston.
The couple—she a teacher from Houston, he from Vancouver, and working in the film industry—fell in love with an early 1900s folk-Victorian when they moved to the city from NYC. “It was a small two-bedroom single-story pier-and-beam house we loved dearly, so much so that we undertook the time-intensive task of having it designated a historic landmark to prevent it from ever being demolished,” Jordan writes to us. “Houston, like many big cities throughout North America, is notorious for irreparably cutting ties with the past by tearing down historic homes and buildings in the name of new development, often cookie-cutter structures made with mass-produced, chemically laden materials that need repair shortly after completion due to the fact that they are built with speed and profit as priorities instead of quality and mindfulness.”
Thanks to their efforts, the couple’s own house stayed standing, but the relentless demolition and quick-builds cropping up around them were antithetical to the environment they wanted to live in—and raise kids in. “We felt a longing for nature for us and our two sons (Noah, now four years old, and Theo, now two years old),” Jordan writes. The couple set their sights on the Catskills, initially looking to built their own straw-bale house. Instead, their search brought them something unexpected: an abandoned 1930s cabin in the Schoharie Valley, now called Hemp House—and their own design studio, Earth to People.
“The experience of seeing home after home being razed to the ground in Houston left a searing impression. Earth to People was really born with the Hemp House, meant to function as the antithesis of the ‘out with the old; mentality we witnessed—a studio that looks to the past in order to find a better way forward and questions the standards in current building practices.”
And the process of salvaging the wood-clad cabin with slow, eco practices was not extravagant cost-wise. “Despite the rising cost of construction and materials, Hemp House was done on a relatively modest budget, favoring reuse, locally sourced supplies and materials (Eastern White pine, Eastern Cedar, fieldstone from our property), and mindful upgrades where needed,” Jordan reports.
Let’s have a look around the second house they couple has saved—with plans to stay.
Photography courtesy of Earth to People.