photographs by Paul Rocheleau
This new house was planned around a collection of rugs and furniture passed down for five generations.
Believe it or not, this one is actually a “new old house” in the hills of western Massachusetts. Chip, the owner, developed plans for the Georgian-style dwelling with McKie Wing Roth Jr., a well-known designer of reproduction homes who passed away in 2012. “I liked Roth’s body of work — and we worked together on this design for over a year, mostly through photographs and email,” Chip explains. “We created spaces around my inherited rugs and furniture. I did meet him once, in person, in Maine.”
The kitchen wing includes an informal dining area with a fully paneled fireplace wall.
The plans for the new old house were developed by the owner and McKie Wing Roth Jr., who was a well-known designer of colonial- and Federal-style homes.
The house was built by Victor Morrill Carpentry on land purchased in 2002; actual construction started in 2005 and took about two and a half years. The foundation hole had to be blasted, which yielded many tons of large, flat Goshen stone. The stone was used for exterior steps, retaining walls, walkways, patios, and two fireplace hearths. (The house has six working fireplaces.)
Authenticity comes in great part from the period-accurate windows and doors, all made by Architectural Components of Montague, Massachusetts. Company owner Chuck Bellinger says of his client: “He was an absolute delight — knowledgeable, relaxed, and appreciative of the efforts of all the tradespeople.” Bellinger helped detail the windows and doors. “Chip himself knows the terminology of 18th-century houses; he trusted me to get the details right,” Bellinger says.
The replica Georgian house has foursquare massing and two center chimneys. Exterior colors are Pratt & Lambert’s ‘Pelham Gray’ (clapboards) and ‘Bracken Cream Light’ (trim) with ‘Old Village Salem Brick Red’ on the doors.
The windows and doors are based on traditional Connecticut River Valley domestic architecture. Bellinger’s company is just across the river from Historic Deerfield, “a treasure trove,” Bellinger says. Windows are of clear Eastern white pine selected to reduce or eliminate the rot-prone sapwood. The 18th-century plank frame windows have reproduction sash; the Georgian-era muntins are 1″ wide with an ovolo profile. Wood-frame storm sash were fitted on the inside — easy to install and remove seasonally.
Exterior doors were built with pattern-grade South American mahogany, which is stable and naturally rot-resistant. The front entry features a pair of narrow six-panel doors with an eight-light transom. The surround is simple yet elegant with plain pilasters and an ogee crown.
The foursquare plan with a center hall is typical. The living room is on the right, den and dining room on the left. Beyond the dining room is the kitchen ell. Doors on the first floor are slightly wider than standard for accessibility.
An island separates the working kitchen from an informal dining area with a board wainscot. The Kennebec Company built Georgian-style raised-panel cabinets of hand-planed pine in the ‘Grover Tavern’ finish. The stone countertop is a New England schist with a softly honed satin finish, not a high polish.
The owner was already familiar with the Kennebec Company and had visited their showroom in Bath, Maine, where he picked a style for his new kitchen. “Victor and I changed the layout from Roth’s initial plans, which he’d based on my earlier request,” Chip says. “Kennebec sent one of their designers; she came to the house when it was merely stud walls, set up a drafting table, and drew the cabinet layouts right here. When the cabinets arrived, Victor said they fit perfectly.”
Victor Morrill also found the wall of 1700s salvaged paneling and modified it for use in this room. The paneled wall is part old, part new (made with hand tools).
Flooring is slate tile in the work area and wide pine in the rest of the room. Countertops are schist in a satin finish, except for two areas with tiger-maple tops. For practical reasons (and because this is not a historic house), the dishwasher is the only appliance that is hidden.
Inside, the den is paneled in cherry wood, much of which came from the building site. “The wood was handscraped, not sanded,” Chip says. Barbara and Erik Schutz of Sheffield, Massachusetts, did the finish work.
Window valances in the kitchen and den were made by hand by Kathleen Smith of Textile Reproductions, who mixes her own vegetable dyes for the yarn she uses in her crewelwork. Chip found her after reading about a project she was overseeing for Historic Deerfield.
The house has become a place for friends to assemble — fellow students from a small Quaker school in Pennsylvania, from college and law school. Last summer, Chip hosted friends from England, France, and the Netherlands. The house, filled with history and a legacy of family, welcomed them all.
- Victor Morrill Carpentry (413) 634-8819, vmorrill(at)yahoo(dot)com
general contractor & carpentry
- Chuck Bellinger, Architectural Components architecturalcomponentsinc.com
exterior doors, windows, some interior moldings
- The Kennebec Company kennebeccompany.com
final kitchen design & cabinets
- Kathleen Smith, Textile Reproductions textilereproductions.com
fabric window valances & consulting
- Caroline Sly Woodworking carolinesly.com
18th-century corner cabinet
- Ashfield Stone ashfieldstone.com
- Authentic Designs authenticdesigns.com
- Mary Gray Lewis Lamp Shades (215) 968-3920
- Moravian Tile Works buckscounty.org
figural fireplace tiles
- Period Lighting Fixtures periodlighting.com
exterior & interior lighting
- Williamsburg Blacksmiths williamsburgblacksmiths.com