Butch Hart and Margaret Womack each owned a house when the two, each widowed, married in 2008.
“I tried to talk Butch into selling his house and moving in with me,” Margaret Hart said, but he wanted to keep the house his parents had built in 1957 and where he and his late wife, Barbara Hart, raised their three children.
The compromise was that they would move into his family home, but they would use her furniture.
That’s when they discovered how similar their tastes were.
“We were both from the same era. We had so much of the same stuff,” Margaret Hart said. “Our dining room chairs were exactly the same. We both collected Rose Medallion (china). We have paintings that are almost exactly alike. We have very similar armoires. You could tell that we were compatible.”
Butch Hart’s father, Albert Hart, built the home for his wife, Eleanor, on 90 acres remaining from a 150-acre tract of land he bought in 1950 in the Highland Road area adjacent to Mount Hope Plantation.
“My mother was a Kleinpeter. She was raised at Kleinpeter Station. She was a country girl,” Butch Hart said. “She always wanted a country place.”
Albert Hart first developed Highland Road Estates on 60 acres of the property. Then he cleared the back property, where, with builder Sidney Coxe, he built the family home.
“We had horses and cows back here,” Butch Hart said. “We were not in the city limits.”
“Gone With the Wind” was Eleanor Hart’s favorite movie, so architect Bob Coleman designed the family home to look like Tara.
“My father was a Depression child,” Butch Hart said. Because he wanted to keep the cost down, he never painted the red brick house white like the fictional Tara.
The Harts had peacocks and swans on the property, which Butch Hart and his father continued to develop. In 1975, the Harts developed Walden.
Albert Hart died in 1977. After Eleanor Hart died in 1985, Butch Hart bought out his siblings, who all lived out of state.
Finally in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew took out 43 big trees, Butch Hart decided to subdivide the 16 acres around his house into The Pond, a gated community of 27 lots. His family home, now painted white, is surrounded by upscale homes, many owned by family friends.
Although the home has been updated and modernized over the years, it is still very much the way it was when his parents lived there.
“There are a lot of my mother’s touches here, a lot of her here,” he said.
The front door opens to a beautiful entrance hall with a curved stairway. At the left is the dining room with the large living room to the right. It opens at the back to a garden room, added by Butch Hart’s parents in the 1970s where the home’s original patio had been. To the right of the living room is a study with cypress paneling and terrazzo floors. The master bedroom is downstairs with four bedrooms upstairs.
Butch Hart was in the process of redoing the kitchen when he and Margaret married. It opens to a small courtyard, where the Harts enjoy their morning coffee.
Since their marriage, the Harts have added a pool and patio. Margaret Hart transplanted roses from her rose garden to a sunny spot at the side of the home.
With the help of Nita Gauthier, she has decorated the home with a combination of items from the merged families.
One of the biggest mergers is the combination of the two family dogs.
Spice is the latest in a line of Margaret Hart’s dalmatians. Dalmatian paintings, statues and collectibles are everywhere in the home.
Cis, Butch Hart’s chocolate lab, has made her new “stepdog” feel right at home.