Bringing a significant Newport Historic District residence into the modern day with upgraded systems while retaining its architectural integrity is an exciting assignment. And a challenging one. There are countless moments in the project when we—the architect and the builder—are faced with the now familiar question: how much do we invest in restoring an original element vs. creating a replica that carries the same story and delivers a more stable element able to endure the next 100 years?
The truth is, you have to pick and choose. Carefully.
Too much replacement, however exact the replica may be, risks looking too new and inauthentic. Too much rehabilitation to original elements can begin to spiral the project out of cost control. The answer lies in carefully selecting those elements to restore, that provide high-touch/high-value to the project. Restoring original details like the hardwood floor, windows and millwork features such as fireplaces, ensures the home retains its position as a historic home.
But what about interior doors, for example? Should they be saved? (I should mention – they are 1 3/4″ thick with a unique raised panel/chamfer detail and mortised hardware. Every element is done right.) The truth is, we tried and found that so much modification to the doors the past 100 years left them patched, shaved at the bottom and so unique in sizing that they no longer fit our new plumb and true rough openings. The answer was to create exact replicas of the doors and refinish and reuse the original hardware.
These decisions require supreme collaboration amongst all project partners and we’re fortunate to be working with the A team on this one – Parker Construction Company and Patrick Ahearn Architect. Not to mention fantastic, respectful clients who trust we’ve got their mission to balance restoration with modernization top of mind, every step of the way.
And as we make our way through stripping back and rebuilding this historic gem, we have the privilege of seeing these original details up close and personal and replicating to a tee. A nice assignment, indeed.
Scroll through images below for a peek at our conceptual design and progress shots during construction. We’ll share photos throughout our progress this winter/next spring as we deliver this home back to its family next summer, ready for the next 100 years of Newport life.
Only the best,
Exterior Details, During Construction:
Interior Details, During Construction :
Our Interiors Concept:
New Meets Old: