Almost six decades ago, one of Arizona's first licensed contractors, J.W. Hancock, founded a home building business with his wife, Maggi. J.W. Hancock Enterprises specialized in semi-custom homes, opposed to tract homes common in the area in the 1960s.
The couple renamed their firm after their son Mark saw the 1967 musical Camelot, in which a character states, “in short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for happily ever aftering than here in Camelot.” Mark remembered the line and went home to ask his mom if they could call the company Camelot.
The project started post-Recession with a land opportunity the company couldn’t turn down. It was state land in north Scottsdale, adjacent to the master plan DC Ranch. To acquire the land, Camelot had to go through an auction and rezoning process. Although there was a strong neighborhood opposition to developing it, Camelot had a good history and reputation in the area so they were able to work through neighbors' initial challenges, says Julie Hancock, Mark's wife and co-owner of the company.
Although Mark usually makes the design decisions, Julie had the reins on the White Horse project, including the name. Julie has been an equestrian her whole life and has always had a white horse. When it came time to the name the community, she wanted something different and settled with White Horse. Julie had seen some projects of archiect Bob White’s when he worked with Scheurer Architects and wanted to commission him to do the designs for the community, but White wasn’t interested in working with a production builder.
“Mark was ready to give up on him and go another direction and I said 'I’m going to make this happen,'” says Julie. “I literally texted him day and night, joked with him 'You’re never going to get rid of me, so you might as well do this project.””
It was an expensive endeavor on Camelot’s part, but Julie was committed to making the community “a pinnacle of Camelot’s 45+ years’ experience building homes.”
The team envisioned these homes to be based on the concept of rural outbuildings that were connected to one another, while also mitigating traffic from a nearby busy road. So they turned the homes inside out. “We took this half acre lot and basically built the house over the whole lot as opposed to having it in the front with a backyard,” says Julie. “You have a front courtyard, a side courtyard, backyard spaces and it kept the living areas inside without the traffic sounds.”
Julie was a strong proponent of the farmhouse style because it seemed fresh and fitting for the area. The team incorporated contemporary and modern styles into the homes as well. After designs and construction, Mark and Julie entered the project into the Gold Nugget awards. They attend PCBC every year and get inspired by other people’s work, but this year White Horse was recognized for three separate awards, Home of the Year, Best Single-Family Detached Home, and Best Indoor/Outdoor Lifestyle for a Home.
“We were just thrilled when we got the two Gold Nugget awards,” says Julie. “We were thinking we were done and getting ready to go.”
Then, the announcer started talking about the Home of the Year. Julie said she was just half listening and her ears perked up when he said Scottsdale community. Then, he called out their project. “It was such a thrill,” she continued. “We were blown away and felt really honored and privileged to be in that kind of company because there was so much great architecture done this year.”
More than half of the 50-lot community has sold since its grand opening in February and continues to sell for Camelot today.
View the full list of Gold Nugget winners across all the categories here.