client stories

Newport, Rhode Island

Elms View

Project Partners


Patrick Ahearn Architect LLC


Parker Construction Corporation

Landscape Design:

Flora Design

Honoring History with Modern Amenities

When a Chicago couple with Rhode Island roots decided to make a home in Newport, they had a few goals in mind.

First, they wanted a place where they could spend summers now, and retire later. Second, they wanted the space to suit their love of entertaining, often for 50 guests or more. And lastly, they wanted their new home to honor Newport’s rich history.

Maintaining the home’s exterior facade and interior character would be no small feat. The home, once a rectory for The Emmanuel Episcopal Church, sits in the Historic District directly across from The Elms. This meant that the exterior had to remain unchanged, at least to the naked eye.

Inside, the property lacked modern amenities—air conditioning, for example. Systemic updates meant the house had to be taken to the studs. Still, interior preservation efforts were every bit as meticulous.

Our team worked to keep much of the original material intact despite the expansive renovation effort. The original newel post, complete with a Celtic cross motif from the home’s early purpose as a rectory, was carefully restored. The balustrade was recreated to match the original. All interior doors and trim were reproduced using the existing pieces as a model. And, when the front door was judged beyond repair, the team replicated the original, to a tee.

Upon move-in, our clients had no idea the level of activity and orchestrated effort that went it to making it look just as it always had, yet modernized and ready for the next 100 years. Just as it should be.

Key Takeaways

Lessons Learned from Elm's View

Working with a high-caliber, highly cooperative team leads to a low stress, highly successful, and on schedule project.

A designer-client relationship routed in trust and open communication results in personal touches for our client families. Take the classic Dining Room conundrum, for example. Our clients were longing to have a dual purpose billiards/dining room. Without this dream coming directly from our client, the custom billiards/dining table would have never come to fruition. Not to mention our clients still tell us how much they love how the billiards table brings their family together at the end of the day.

When preservation can’t happen 100% of the time – replicate for authenticity. We preserved as much of the original fabric of this 1877 home as possible, including the floors, original newel posts and street facing windows. When the original front door was beyond repair, we worked with craftsman to replicate it to a tee, just as we did the doors and window casings throughout the house. Now its original details, reproduced with respect and care, will stand strong for the next one hundred years.