Play video

Chatham Cottage Revival

Chatham, MA

Built for working-class residents, this relatively spare, clapboard-fronted 1870 Greek Revival—called the Josiah Nickerson House—had been expanded with early-twentieth-century additions that compromised its character. The goal was to restore its original charm while accommodating a contemporary program of four bedrooms, a carriage house, a pool, and a cabana on a confined corner property.

This was achieved by raising the house up to add a foundation and basement and moving the front door to its original location on the gabled façade. A new addition to the front door’s right replaces an ell extension. Lower and stepped back from the 1870s building, it lets the nineteenth-century gable remain dominant while preserving the look of the historic streetscape and screening from public view the outdoor-living areas in the back.

Another new addition, this one an extension at the rear that’s true to the 1870 aesthetic but built within a later addition’s footprint, provides connection to the outdoors—something previously lacking.

The site’s steep grading, previously seen as a challenge, proved to be the solution to creating a rich and engaging campus-like configuration. Nestled at the lowest grade in the far corner of the property is an accessory building. A winding drive now leads to a new building with a carriage house on the first floor and cabana on the second.

The sloping site allows step-out access from the cabana to the pool behind. Though challenging, the steep topography allowed the creation of a cohesive campus, with buildings all speaking the same historic language.