This stately 1888 Shingle-style waterfront home by Boston architect Horace Frazer was part of Cape Cod’s early development into a summer playground for the well-heeled. However, the house had undergone a number of unfortunate iterations over the decades. When Patrick Ahearn, FAIA, was approached to revive the old manse, he and his team set to task.
They began its resurrection by removing all of the add-ons not endemic to the original structure. Its renovation entailed lifting the massive 6,300-square-foot building and lowering it onto a new foundation. “In order to preserve the house and the integrity of the structure, that’s what we needed to do,” says principal architect Patrick Ahearn. Though a Herculean undertaking, it did create the opportunity to add a lower level, which houses a game/media room, drop-zone, and laundry facilities.
The house also did not have a good presence from the road, as there wasn’t a clear entry and many of the details—such as the shutters and window boxes that warm the façade—didn’t exist at the start. The arrival was redefined and greatly enhanced by the addition of a motor court, centered on the portico, and two carriage houses, one of which serves as a pool cabana. “Creating a center drive with two new carriage houses to bookend the forecourt gave the house a wonderful level of formality it had been lacking,” Ahearn notes. “That effectively changed the home’s sense of place on the lot.”
When redefining the approach, the team elected to keep the existing door in its original location but they introduced white paneling around the band of diamond-paned casement windows to create the impression of a double-door entry—a strategy intended to draw people in. Other changes to the front elevation included the addition of new Chippendale railings, window patterns, and chimneys. The rear was re-detailed for organization’s sake; the sliding-glass and hopper windows were replaced with awning windows with transoms above. Finally, to blend all of the new elements and restore the home’s historic appeal, the entire structure was re-shingled.
On the interior, minor changes were made to the floor plan to open the kitchen to the family room. “We preserved the overall character throughout, including the existing fireplaces and significant millwork, and we introduced higher-end finishes to improve the aesthetic of each space,” Ahearn explains, noting that they reworked the circulation pattern too. Rather than a series of small rooms and pantries, they created a gathering space without changing the volumes.
The interior design team peppered the clients’ family heirlooms throughout the house—including the “brunching” table and chairs in the Sea View room. The tabletop was given a hand-painted Greek key motif, and a custom awning-stripe design was added to the room’s ceiling, while the floor was given a stenciled treatment.
“The warmth and charm of the house décor is largely due to the creative team of the late Richard FitzGerald and Kathleen Sullivan,” says homeowner Zacharie Vinios. “Mr. Fitz came out of retirement to work with us on what might have been his last major project. We wanted the house to look and feel like it did in the early 1900s, and to incorporate family treasures into the design. His wisdom, experience, and talent were evident in the final result—we have a beautiful, comfortable, multigenerational family home.”
Asked about the project as a whole, Ahearn responds: “We saw this as an opportunity to bring back the essence of the grand country house using the bones of the old house. Careful editing of the original architecture and the introduction of thoughtful new elements resulted in a thoroughly reimagined property.”