Woods Hole, MA    2005

This waterfront site in Woods Hole has, on one side, spectacular views of Little Harbor, and the Elizabeth Islands. On the other side, directly across the street, sits the stone Church of the Messiah, built in 1888. The owners wanted to create a modern house, which would be of its time, taking advantage of the light and the views, while simultaneously respecting the historical context of the area.

Rather than overcrowd the narrow, sloping lot with one large building, we decided on two separate, narrow structures, both with overhanging hipped roofs, reminiscent of Woods Hole’s many bungalows and boathouses. The sixteen-foot wide main house overlooks the water, while the fourteen-foot wide garage and guest house sits on the street side. They are connected by a terrace, which serves as an outdoor room for both buildings, and provides access to a series of small terraces stepping down the hill, ending at the lower lawn and beach below. A water runnel that fills with rainwater from the roof, or can be manually operated, brings the sound of running water into the courtyard.

The narrow width of the buildings creates a home that is one room wide, allowing for natural light and views to fill the spaces. Interior finishes on the main floor include raw plaster walls, bleached ash cabinetry and walls, bleached ash floors stained translucent blue, and a copper chimney, that connects to exterior copper elements.

The entire second floor holds the master bedroom and bath, with a balcony that feels like a the prow of a ship overlooking Little Harbor, and an office in the tower above. The lower level is all for the owners’ two teenage girls, and contains two bedrooms, each with its own outdoor terrace, a shared bathroom, and a TV room.

Architecture and landscape are fully integrated on this project. Outdoor rooms, including a lovely private outdoor shower with its own views of the harbor and Vineyard Sound, are as carefully developed as those in the house. The two buildings nestle crisply and create cozy, terraced spaces on the sloping site, with focused views of the harbor, and the islands.

Builder: O’Hara Builders
Landscape Architect: Stephen Stimson Associates
Photographer: Charles Mayer