Christian Busk is on a mission to restore old Florida.
by Parker Hathcock, for Naples Illustrated
Landscape architect Christian Busk is known equally for his work relocating mature trees in landscapes as he is for restoring and relocating vintage homes in Bonita Springs.
His home restoration efforts started in 2001, when he purchased and moved a ramshackle house from Dean Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. “The first old house I acquired is known to most people as the Williams-Packard House, although a long list of families called it home,” Busk says. “It was built in the 1920s or earlier and is a great example of architecture of that time. I was drawn to save it.”
Busk’s first house was more than a labor of love, it was hard work. Moving and restoring the home required the cooperation of master woodworkers, plumbers and electricians, as well as some daring engineering. “We broke the house down as much as possible, and we moved it at night,” Busk says. “It was something to see.”
Many months and more than $500,000 later, the house emerged as a shining example of restoration. “Some people collect antiques,” he says. “I collect antique homes. It’s my hobby.” In 2003, shortly after completing work on the Williams-Packard House, Busk found another opportunity in Bonita Springs-the E.P. Nutting House, named for the citrus shipper who moved in back in 1942. This historic home was located on River Drive and bound for destruction when Busk bought it and moved it across the street from the Williams-Packard House. Originally built around 1913, the Nutting House presented yet another architectural rarity. “It’s a simple-looking gray house, but … the craftsmanship and design make the house a real piece of history,” Busk says. Since 2003, he has lovingly restored this home as well, filling it with pieces from his collection of mid-20th century art and furniture.
In the summer of 2004, he purchased the Higginson House on Dean Street. “This home, built in the 1920s, represents another important part of Bonita Springs’ history,” he says. “There is a lot of beautiful wood in this home-dark, gorgeously aged wood that has never been painted. It is a home with incredible possibilities.” Earlier this year, Busk worked with the Bonita Springs Historical Society to save the Glazier Home, a prefabricated kit house built around 1910. “It’s a wonderful example of the first prefabricated homes ever made in this country,” Busk explains.
“I hope that others will see what I have done as an alternative to tearing down old houses. Restoring them helps build character and interest into the community,” he says. “It’s good for Bonita Springs’ past, present and future.”
Naples Daily News - April 2012
Architecture of houses has changed through the decades
Nutting Historic Home Preservation
N Magazine - December 2006
In 1942, Nutting purchased the tiny gray cottage. During his lengthy tenure, minor changes were made, but the house remained much like it was when first built.
His Old House - Williams Packard Historic Preservation
N Magazine - April/May 2003
Landscape architect Christian Busk first saw the house on the front page of the Bonita Banner along with a story that caught his imagination.