Sited on more than 40 acres in Medfield, Massachusetts, away from the cosmopolitan bustle, the property known as The Henry Morse House was originally built for a physician whose tastes were inclined to the rural rather than the urban. Like so many at the time who were lured to the area by the very active Norfolk Hunt Club, whose lay-and-drag fox hunts traversed the countryside beginning in the late 1800s, Dr. Morse appreciated the site’s rich land and pastures. In 1912 he constructed a grand country home with meticulous attention to detail, including a full south-facing facade for all-day sun and exceptional masonry throughout.
The challenge, more than 100 years later, was to seamlessly reimagine Dr. Morse’s masterpiece for modern-day while respecting its rich history and maintaining its unique character. The result is a case study in a timeless renovation. Early on, an opportunity was captured to create a rhythm on the exterior with an augmentation such that a diptych became a triptych. As a result, visitors can now hardly tell what portions of the home are new and what portions are original.
The most challenging areas were found inside, reconfiguring traffic patterns, inserting circulation spines, and managing very significant bearing walls. Challenge, however, breeds innovation. Now complete with a fully enhanced kitchen, ample family room, and mudroom, the first floor lives comfortably for today’s family. On the second floor, a new primary suite was developed along with a primary bathroom appropriate for the estate. Bedrooms, storage spaces, and bathrooms were rethought and reconfigured to surpass expectations. In addition, substantial and significant work was done in the attic. While less dynamic than the changes to living spaces, this work of updating systems with energy-saving and efficient technologies is equally important and perhaps more critical to the long-term health of the home.
Today, the house stands as a testament to the past, with a gaze set firmly on the future. The cry of hounds is still heard from the property when the Hunt is in session, and the heritage of the home has been fully maintained.