House on Cape Cod 10/06/12

Last summer I was very excited with a commission to design a new shingle style house on a half acre of land in the seaside town of Chatham, MA, bordering the pastoral links of the golf course at Chatham Bars Inn.  The design was inspired by the local vernacular, which is steeped in the “architecture of the American summer”.  The design was conceived and drawings were produced in a very short and highly concentrated time frame.  Once completed, the drawings were provided to a local architect, hired by the homeowner to take good custody of the design, modify it in minor ways that incorporated further iteration, shepherd it through the local approvals process, and keep in step throughout construction (I was sad at first to miss out on these parts of the process that I enjoy and have practiced so much, but I understood the strategy and can report that it has worked out well).

This blog post is the latest in a series I have written to chronicle the construction of this house.  However, whereas previous posts were prompted by my having received photos from the homeowner’s periodic site visits, this post is prompted by my own personal visit to the site yesterday.  It was my first visit since walking the vacant parcel in August of last year, and with the weather contributing nicely, it turned out to be a most rewarding way to spend an impromptu day off.

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Yesterday landscapers were raking out top soil to finished grades and setting bluestone in mortar to form paths between doors and the hardscape terrace that surrounds the swimming pool.  Fencing was under way and the driveway base was being prepped for paving.

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Painters were taping off their protection yesterday, preparing for their start today of primer spraying.  While I enjoy seeing the rawness of unfinished architectural woodwork, I also love the way in which it takes on an entirely different, finished character when it is painted.

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In terms of progress, the construction has come a very long way since I last posted on April 29.  There has been enormous progress in the interior of the house, which yesterday was filled with the sweet smell of raw wood, carried through the air by fine particles of saw dust that were being now and then pushed out of a buzzing table or compound miter saw.  The stair builder was setting his newel posts and the trim carpenters were fabricating crowns for door and window heads.  Much of the same woodworking that occupied the day yesterday has been occupying the days of hardworking trim carpenters stationed in this house since early June, and their devoted work is now nearing completion.  As these photos show, all those months of work have resulted in interior spaces that are very prominently appointed with wood trim.  Very few rooms are without paneled wainscoting, each capped with profiled molding, in many cases at six feet in height (the ceiling height on both floor levels is ten feet high).

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This homeowner is a joyful aficionado of built-up architectural molding and has demonstrated his love with an ample display.  Working with a “vocabulary” of molding profiles that I had put together early on in the design drawings, putting those profiles together and supplementing them with others, the homeowner and builder have fashioned a loving homage to molded wood.

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8 Comments

  1. David Forant says:

    The workmenship on this house is outstanding as well as the design but who is this builder are you keeping him a secret ? You don’t see this quality workmanship this day and age again upstanding .

  2. Joe Bergin says:

    Happy to share, David! The builder is Jodice Corporation…yes, their work is outstanding, isn’t it? Ask for Leon and please send him my regards!

  3. From room to room the phrase that keeps going through my mind as I look at this project is “Old World grace.” I have no doubt that although the house is considered a classic today, its legacy will be that of an historic home a century from now. Congratulations, Mr. Bergin, on a job well done.

    • Joe Bergin says:

      Thank you Barry! I must share your congratulations with the homeowner and builder and all his crew who are putting so much of their hearts into the construction of this house.

  4. Reno Migani says:

    Small world; this summer, my wife and I were driving passed this house and stopped to take a closer look because we liked the design. Imagine my surprise when I see it on your blog. Wonderful detailing and proportions.

    • Joe Bergin says:

      Wow Reno! I love a small world story. This house has actually sprouted some others, but yours is the best one by far! I’m happy the house caught your eye last summer. Knowing that it drew your interest as a fellow architect is very gratifying.

  5. BrentHull says:

    Just discovered your blog. Beautiful millwork throughout this home!

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