The Yellow House was built by Edward Worth during the Island’s Golden Era of whaling in 1838. In 1840, Captain Rufus F. Pease bought the Yellow House for $1650 after his first successful voyage as Captain of the ship Awashonks. After his second successful voyage, Governor Mayhew appointed Pease as the Commissioner of Wrecks and Shipwrecked Goods. Capt. Pease passed in 1893 and since then the Yellow House has lived many lives at the hands of its various homeowners resulting in a small addition to the rear of the home in the 1960s.
For years, prospective homeowners were attracted to the rich history of the Yellow House. Upon entry into the home, one steps back in time to the late nineteenth century. The 1840s antique pine floorboards bear meaningful scars, alluding to centuries of inhabitants further enhancing the historical feel of the home; however, nearly two centuries of New England weather, damages from various homeowners, and benign neglect left the home in considerable disrepair. Our goal was to preserve the history and character of the house, replace the 1960s addition with an addition more sympathetic to the original architecture, improve the flow of the interior, and re-orient the spaces to take advantage of the long views to the water.
The project began by jacking up the house to introduce a new basement and to re-stabilize the structure with a new pier foundation with an antique brick veneer reminiscent of Edgartown vernacular in the late nineteenth century. The original frame was carefully reassembled stud-by-stud followed by new insulation, wiring, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and roofing. As a result, almost every element of the house is new; however, the home appears to be original to the 1840s. At the rear, the 1960s addition was replaced with a more sympathetic addition. The goal was to complement the existing architecture and to celebrate the long vistas to the harbor. The new gable addition allowed for a master bedroom with cathedral ceilings above with French doors leading to a shared deck. The combination of large windows and pair of French doors allow the natural light to fill the interior while providing an unobstructed view of the harbor.
Similar to the exterior, the interior is just as much a celebration of the original home. The main objective was to preserve the original footprint but to improve the natural flow between the connected spaces. The existing stairwell was preserved in its original location and the newel post and balustrade was meticulously mimicked to extend to the new basement. The front rooms – the formal parlor and study – were re-purposed as a game room and home office respectively to adapt to life in the twenty-first century while remaining consistent with their intended uses. The 1960s addition – housing the kitchen and part of the family room – was poorly executed making it difficult to access the kitchen without passing through a rabbit-warren of rooms. We removed the second staircase to introduce a major spine connecting the front of the home to the rear. The new addition was designed with an open floor plan to foster social interactions amongst the multi-generational family, all while celebrating long views to the harbor reinforced by the cased beams. All new materials were prudently selected or mimicked to appear historically correct and original to the home, including: flooring, antique brick, millwork, hardware, etc.
Today the Yellow House emanates its new found vitality and will continue to serve as an heirloom for many generations to follow.