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Monday, May 27, 2024

Where We Live: A green machine in the hills

Where We Live: A weekly look at the homes in the Cape Fear Region

WILMINGTON — A green house in the hills is an eco-friendly dream.

On 1920 South Churchill Drive, a two-story (three, including the basement) 3,590 sq. ft. Highland Hills home is an energy efficient machine.

With solar panels, a geothermal HVAC, and a rainwater collection and irrigation system, the home is consistently low on bills and impact on the environment.

Designed by Oxenfield & Newkirk in 1966, this mid-century modernist home has been respectfully remodeled with the original design and intent in mind.

Now on the market, the current owners loved the essence of the home so much that they have moved into another house by the same designer duo.

“Keeping with the era was the key,” Dodd said.

The owners kept the original doors and handles as well as most of the cabinets. They opened up a wall between the kitchen and dining room and updated the entire home to be as energy efficient as possible.

A green machine

The 5.9 kW solar photovoltaic system actually has the ability to collect so much energy that the surplus can be sold back.

“If you have an abundance of energy you can sell it back to Duke Energy,” said listing agent Jane Dodd, a broker with Intracoastal Realty.

This sleek, open home with abundant natural light rests on over an acre of land.

A 650-gallon collection system hugs the back of the home and utilizes rainwater, filtered in from the membrane roof. It also features well irrigation with surface water drainage with swales and rain gardens.

The backyard is lined with solar lights which surround a butterfly garden and landscaping by Mott Landscaping.

With three patios, Dodd says the outdoor area of the home can feel like “your own little private oasis.”

A short drive from the Cape Fear Country Club, the home is close enough to the center of town while maintaining a sense of privacy and woodsy escape.

“It’s just a beautiful setting right here in the middle of everything but with privacy,” Dodd said.

Floor to ceiling windows are present throughout the home, bringing in natural light and natural, green views from every floor.

An amplitude of natural light reduces the need for artificial light and the windows are tinted to improve energy efficiency.

Wrap around window sets bring in additional light to the upstairs bedrooms and skylights illuminate the bathrooms. Two bathrooms even have skylights which take up the entire ceiling.

Mod style

Although tastefully tucked away along a gradual slope of land, this 60s era home with a modern twist stands out from its neighbors.

Compared to other homes in the area with columns and a coastal, cottage look, the midcentury design is a rarity.

“In the south, everybody is more of a cottagy, wrap around porch,” Dodd said. “So the contemporary modernistic clientele base is smaller.”

Evoking a familiar sense of the past, the modern renovations allow the home to feel like a living relic.

“I think people love the style and that it was kept intact and the quality of the renovation that was done,” Dodd said. “They love the setting and the uniqueness of it.”

Where We Live is a weekly feature looking at the homes and unique places to stay in the Cape Fear Region. Do you have a home, on or off the market, that our readers may be interested in seeing? Let us know at

1920 South Churchill Drive in Highland Hills is listed at $799,900. Interested buyers should contact listing agent Jane Dodd at (910)-617-3208 or at

Know of an interesting house or unique story? Contact Johanna Ferebee at or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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