We’re Alex and Violette, the current owners of Historic Upsala Mansion.
We met while going to high school in Sarasota, Florida, and instantly became best friends.
Violette was born and raised in Sarasota, FL. Alex is originally from Mahwah, NJ, and his family moved to Sarasota before his freshman year of high school.
Our friendship continued after high school. Violette moved to South Hadley, MA to attend Mt. Holyoke College, and Alex spent some time in Paris before moving to New York City to attend New York University.
We both studied Urban Design + Architecture in college. Constant trips back and forth to Massachusetts and New York certainly racked up a big Amtrak bill!
Alex got his real estate license while he was in college, and began selling real estate in New York City.
In 2013, an opportunity to participate in flipping a house fell into our laps. We decided to give it a go, and fell in love with the process. Our first project was a historic home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
By the time the project was finished, Violette had already moved to Philadelphia to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania.
Planning to stay in Philadelphia for a few years, Violette started shopping for a home where should could put down some roots. We looked at dozens and dozens of condos, never really finding exactly what she wanted.
In early 2015, we finally found the perfect spot! A converted loft building in Old City. The unit needed a complete overhaul, but the bones were fantastic. We renovated that unit, and realized we had a passion for doing this type of work in historic properties.
Historic properties present a unique set of challenges. They are innately special, and deserve extra attention. When working on historic properties, we seek to retain as much of the original fabric and character of the space as possible.
Naturally, this can render historic preservation projects more complicated; forced to explore alternative, creative solutions to accomplish tasks that are a breeze in newer houses.
We see this step in the design process as a puzzle. Solving the puzzle is one of our favorite aspects of working on historic properties. As a team, we arrange and rearrange the puzzle pieces until each piece finds its place in the delicately preserved, yet updated, home.
Since then, we’ve been chugging along, and renovated several more historic properties along the way. In August 2016, we got married on the island of Mykonos in Greece. Though we are married, we prefer to use the term “partner” because we are a non-traditional couple, and we don’t love the heteronormative expectations of a marriage between a man and a woman.
Later that year, in the fall of 2016, we stumbled across the listing for this house, and the rest is history! (Well, almost… for more details about the process we went through to purchase this house, click here!)
We’re now living in Historic Upsala Mansion with our four cats, Marcel, Nemo, Will, and Grace. Thank you for following along on our journey as we breathe new life into this 220 year old masterpiece.