Restoring & Renovating a Home within the Edgartown Village Historic District
The Homeowners & The Historic District
After owning the original cottage for a number of years, the homeowners acquired the property next door because they desired a much larger program for their expanding family. Morse Street Compound is an early 1800’s Greek Revival cottage located within the Edgartown Village Historic District, therefore, the design had to go through a lengthy architectural review. Our challenge was to increase the square footage by 75%, while maintaining the spirit and charm of the original cottage and to gain approval from the Historic District and the neighbors at large.
The goal was for the finished home to read as a cohesive whole, as if it was originally designed for the larger program at the beginning of the 1800’s. Although three quarters of the house is new construction, it was crucial that the home still gave the impression of a restoration/renovation and remained appropriate in scale to the surrounding neighborhood. It was necessary that the new wing of the house emulate the character and scale of the old wing, however, the interior was redesigned to accommodate a modern lifestyle with open and flowing spaces that are oriented to the indoor/outdoor living opportunities.
We lifted the original cottage and set floor joists into its new foundation in order to achieve a higher ceiling height, without changing the exterior imagery of the house. We preserved what appears to be a lower floor height on the first floor from the exterior, but in effect, it has a nine foot ceiling height. We matched the bookend of the new construction with the original perception of the house however, we set the new additions back from the original house to place emphasis on the original part of the cottage and to minimize the scale thus creating a balance to the corner lot that appeared naturally placed and historically correct.
A house should reflect the times we live in as much as a past we cherish by incorporating new
designs based on historical precedents. Although three quarters of the home is new construction, the home looks like it has stood since the early 1800s.
History is best celebrated when it is embraced. Navigating the old and the new requires a mindful balance. We matched the bookend of the new construction with the original perception of the house however, we set back the new additions to place emphasis on the original part of the home and to minimize the scale from the streetscape thus creating a balance to the corner lot that looked natural and historically correct.
All of the historical elements that made this Greek Revival cottage vernacular style home wonderful were maintained and enhanced including the white clapboard, wood roof, window shutters, window boxes, cheerful white picket fence, and brick walkways. This home is the epitome of preserving and enhancing the historic elements that make a home timeless.
The three French doors under the covered porch open to the dining room with three additional sets of French doors, directly opposite, that open to the outdoor covered porch. The three dormers, on the second floor, create a symmetry above the French doors, creating a pleasant sense of balance and lyrical simplicity.
Located behind the home is a carriage house that provides access off of the corner street, lined with a bluestone pathway leading to a second, informal entrance, which opens to the main family gathering spaces located off the mudroom.
A fence and lush gardens were incorporated to screen off the backyard from the public view and to create a sense of flow.
Poor additions from the 1930s were removed to enhance the historical accuracy of the home. Acquiring the adjacent parcel allowed of land the homeowners to expand the home parallel to the street rather than sacrificing their backyard.
The rear exterior of the home reads symmetrically. All major living areas open up to a covered porch with an outdoor fireplace. Above the covered porch is a deck accessed from the study connecting both the wings of the home. The rear bedrooms also have access to the deck along with private balconies facing the carriage house, pool, and cabana.
Previously, the dining room was closed off, leaving one wall exposed to the natural light. The dining room was relocated to the center addition with two sets of three French doors opposite each other to allow the light to penetrate the room and to create a wonderful cross breeze when the doors are open.
The coffered ceiling lends intimacy and romance to the room while reinforcing the spine connecting the original and new wing.
Following the spine, established at the entry gallery through the dining room, draws you into the sun filled kitchen and breakfast room.
One of the requests the homeowners made was for the appliances not to disappear, but rather act as an expression of the stainless steel nature of the appliances. The range, refrigerator, and freezer are featured in their stainless steel presentation because they desired an industrial aesthetic with a clean and elegant finish. The nickel hardware and light fixtures over the island were incorporated to complement the stainless steel appliances.
The beamed ceiling was designed to subtly define the specific zones accommodating various functions that occur in the kitchen including the island, cabinetry, and breakfast area.
The cabinetry was designed to read as furniture that could have been from the period when the home was originally constructed, but it is very crisp and elegant at the same time. While the kitchen has a very tailored feeling, it simultaneously provides a warm and cozy atmosphere.
The kitchen and breakfast room open up directly into the family room. The transition between the two living spaces is defined by a wide, strongly cased opening. The alcove beyond creates an intimate seating area providing a view of the pool and cabana.
Flanking the fireplace are a pair of French doors that lead to an outdoor covered porch with a brick fireplace. Opposite are two additional French doors that provide access to the living room (seen in the next image).
In the left wing is the living room with a three season room to the left. The living room can be accessed by either the entry gallery or the outdoor covered porch, connected to the dining room and the family room. The French doors on either side of the living room open up to create the epitome of summer living with cross breezes flowing through.
The painting located above the chest in the corner is a portrait of the sea captain, the original owner of the home in the early 1800s.
The upper level houses the gallery/library that connects both wings of the house. The three dormers on the front of the house are used to create three intimate window seats in the gallery area.
The right wing incorporates the master suite and office while the left wing provides three additional bedrooms and a laundry room.
Opposite the dormers is a center deck accessed from three sets of French doors as well as unique access from the master suite and left rear bedroom.
In addition to the center deck, private decks have been created for the master bedroom and the opposite rear bedroom that have views of the pool and cabana.
The master bath features a free-standing tub set within a paneled alcove, opposite from the his and her stone vanities. Adjacent is a private water closet and not pictured is a walk-in glass shower.
The home theater was created with all of the latest technology while still maintaining the established character of the home through the use of paneled walls, stepped nail head trimmed leather seating, and a concession stand to provide all guests with their favorite treats.