At the start of summer we interviewed Martha’s Vineyard’s top award-winning architect Patrick Ahearn for our blog, Design Secrets of Martha’s Vineyard’s Top Architect Patrick Ahearn. We saved Patrick’s most exciting design secret until now—his uncanny ability to design and build new houses that people think were built at the same time as 1790’s and early 1800’s houses. Patrick’s approach to architecture is not unlike that of a novelist or the writer of a script for a historical movie. Patrick spends hours writing, and then sketching what he calls a “script of implied history”. Patrick researches the context of the house—the surroundings, the layout of the street, the other houses in the neighborhood and local history. From this, Patrick constructs the implied history of the house. The result is a new house that looks as if it was meticulously restored from a two hundred year old masterpiece.
Join me as Patrick shares the script he wrote for his own house on Martha’s Vineyard.
“I’ll give you an example of a house I scripted and designed for myself on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s on a small street in Edgartown village about two blocks from the harbor. The whole street is about 18 feet wide. It’s surrounded by antique captain’s houses with white picket fences. The road over was the commercial way to the harbor and was filled with livery stables and boat oriented repair shops from the turn of the century.”
“When I came to coming up with a script for my house, I said let’s pretend it’s a 1790 midshipman’s house. I didn’t want it to be a captain’s house, but a more modest house. Then somewhere close to 1820, imagine a barn was attached to the back of the house.”
“In the later 1800’s, that family grew into the barn and they built this livery stable at the back of the property with those three green garage doors. It really became a workshop for the owner.”
“Then I came across the property, and it was all abandoned and falling apart. I fell in love with it and wanted to restore the house. I take clients through the house from time to time and I tell them this story and it’s 100% believable. I get feedback on how they love the barn beams and how I kept the barn. How they love the courtyard between the livery stable and the house with the pool and garden. They love the restoration of the old granite steps, the bubble glass over the chunky-wide entry door and the old pine floors. They think it’s a wonderful restoration but yet the house lives the way people want to live today.”
“So at the end I tell them that I’m glad they really appreciated the tour and how happy I am they understood the context of our beautiful restoration, but the whole house is brand new and was built from scratch thirteen years ago! People just don’t believe it.”
“Sometimes I tell people to walk down the street and tell me the two house that are brand new and they can’t find them. I designed both of them.”
“So I take that as some of the highest compliments I could get for my work. My new houses feel like old houses but live the way people want to live today. They have the instant patina of age which requires a very skilled set of hands that know how to create the elements that will reinforce the script.”
For more on Patrick Ahearn visit: www.patrickahearn.com