[pullquote-left]St. Mark’s alum preserves history in modern houses[/pullquote-left]
Brent Hull grew up with a love of English, history, and working with his hands. As an adult, those passions combined into a love of old homes and woodworking.
“Houses tell stories,” he said. “What we build matters. You’re creating the narrative of the home.”
The St. Mark’s alum got his undergraduate degree from Baylor University, and then moved on to the North Bennet Street School in Boston to hone his craftsmanship skills.
Today, he runs Hull Historical, a general contracting company that specializes in residential and historic preservation, from a 1920s building in downtown Fort Worth. The former Nabisco distributing center provides the perfect venue for millwork and consulting with clients.
But Hull wears yet another hat in addition to craftsman and businessman: author. His third book, Building a Timeless House in an Instant Age, is geared toward homeowners looking to create something that evokes a bygone era in home building.
“The truth is, good design doesn’t have to cost more,” he said. “You make decisions that are cohesive so the details come together.”
“I remember inspecting a 1918 bungalow for a friend and feeling completely disconnected when I walked from a charming dining room into a kitchen with walls wrapped in glossy, stain-grade kitchen cabinets. I was suddenly disconnected and disoriented. I remember thinking, ‘What are these new kitchen cabinets doing in this historic home?’ The high-gloss kitchen cabinets were inappropriate for the historic house because they were telling a different story.”
— Chapter 1, page 8
His first two books, he admits, were more for other preservationists. But with his third, clients have become readers, too.
Sarah Robb has hired Hull for restorations to her Charles Dilbeck-designed home in Fort Worth — a house whose twin sits on Shenandoah Street in Dallas. During the project, she’s also read Hull’s book to further understand his vision of the process.
“He has a unique perspective on wanting to preserve the characters of old homes — that’s a passion for him,” she said. “You want your home to be a character and extension of yourself. It’s like a person that ages — you don’t need to fix all the wrinkles, but you want to show the character.”
Hull does historic preservation and restoration in addition to new construction that calls up the craftsmanship and intention of builders in the past.
No surprise, then, that his book has caught the attention of other preservation lovers in the area.
“Hull adds skilled storyteller to his background as an expert on molding, trained hands-on preservationist, and builder of new houses,” fellow author and history lover Virginia McAlester said in a review.
Hull often gives talks on “building homes with character,” as he says, to industry-related organizations across the country. But his expertise is just as impactful to his clients right here at home.
“It’s a unique experience when you go home. It’s not a box — it’s fun and homey,” Robb said. “It’s a dog, cat, kick-off-your-shoes kind of place.”