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RVA Artist Finds His Dream Home



Local artist Sir James Thornhill feels right at home in his new Solar Row house! Last year, he purchased one of the seven homes that make up project:HOMES' Solar Row; a single-family net-zero development in the Carver neighborhood of Richmond. “I love my home! It’s given me a new life,” said James.


All seven homes on Solar Row sold soon after they were listed. The new homeowners said they were attracted to the uniqueness of the homes - the location, affordability and the solar panels. They were excited to reap the benefits of owning a solar home. Historic Richmond honored project:HOMES with a Golden Hammer award for Solar Row, which recognizes excellence in neighborhood revitalization projects throughout Greater Richmond. The Homebuilders Association of Virginia selected Solar Row as a finalist for Innovation Project of the Year.


James describes the Carver neighborhood as awesome and is proud to be a part of the community. Born in neighboring Jackson Ward, the area holds a special place in James’ heart and he feels as though he has "come back home." James developed a passion for art as a child in Jackson Ward. "It was all art, whether it was the vendors or the sign painters, car detailers," said James. "That's where I guess I really got acquainted with the process of art."


Prior to James’ purchase of a Solar Row home he lived in a studio apartment. He knew he was ready for a bigger home when he had to start stacking his paintings on top of one another. When he stepped inside the project:HOMES house, he knew it was the perfect place to live and make art. He planted a garden in the summer and loved having a backyard of his own. He says he plans on living in the home for the rest of his life and passing it on through his family for generations.


James was thrilled that the home was built with the same quality standard as a market-rate home and includes modern amenities that make him feel safe and comfortable. "It inspires me to know that I am coming home to a safe, solid home, where I don't have to worry about things," said James. It gives him peace of mind to know that "this home will last forever" and that his monthly costs and maintenance are minimal. Due to the solar panels, his energy bills are close to nothing. "What excites me is knowing that because it's solar, my bills aren't as high as they were," said James. "It couldn't have worked out any better for me. To be able to do this on a retired income is absolutely fantastic."



After moving in, James quickly connected with his neighbors and says the community feels a sense of revitalization that's bringing new life to the area. "Just being part of this community inspires me," said James, who has eight murals in the neighborhood. "There's a sense of being that you feel that drives creativity and professionalism. It's alive!"


Thanks to the City of Richmond; the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority; Wells Fargo; the RVA Solar Fund and the Evan and Christie Thalhimer Silverstein Fund, components of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, and individual donors for contributing to this unique and innovative project.


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