Old Cuba meets ... new urbanism

Salvador and Lilliam Pancorbo return to Gainesville and pay homage to their Cuban roots in Haile Plantation Village Center.

Salvador and Lilliam Pancorbo enjoy a quiet moment in their foyer, which is flanked by two of her paintings.

Rob Witzel
Published: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.

For some couples, designing a dream home is all about a custom kitchen with commercial-grade stainless steel appliances and sleek marble countertops. For others, it's a backyard oasis with an infinity pool, lush green landscaping and a stunning vista. For Salvador and Lilliam Pancorbo, it was a central courtyard with a tiled fountain, Romeo and Juliet-style balcony, and space large enough to entertain family and friends comfortably.

As simple as their dream sounds, in reality, designing their 3,300-square-foot home around a Cuban-influenced courtyard proved to be quite the challenge.

“Back in 2001, we went to Cuba and toured many houses with an inside courtyard,” explains Salvador, a retired research scientist who worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Connecticut.

The Pancorbos hail from Cuba; Salvador arrived in Miami in 1960 and Lilliam in 1961. They met and married in 1966 but their love for their island nation never left them, and they wanted to honor that in their new home.

They recall many of their ancestral homes having similar central courtyards; they were particularly inspired by Salvador's grandmother's residence.

“I started designing with that in mind but not being an architect, I didn't get very far,” he says with a laugh.

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom home was a design collaboration between the Pancorbos and several others: their nephew, Oscar Carrera, an architect who helped with the initial blueprints; Jennifer Langford from Haile Plantation, who finalized the design; and builder and Haile Plantation Village Center neighbor, Bob Butts.

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