Connecticut Riverfront House
This new private residence is located in a historic district on the eastern banks of the Connecticut River. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the enclave was once a prominent shipbuilding community, with a sawmill and a ferry service.
The original house on the site dated from 1732, serving over the centuries as a private residence and a tavern, with additions eccentrically blending Colonial gable and gambrel roofs. Set low on the riverbank, the tavern thrived as the ferry terminal. Among its early occupants was James Brainerd Taylor, a Second Great Awakening evangelist educated at the Yale Divinity School. Sadly, the 4,800 square foot treasure was destroyed by fire in February 2018.
Recent changes in waterfront codes required that the lowest point of any replacement structure be set five feet higher than the original. This made a reproduction of the original horizontal house look awkward because its mass became so perpendicular. Therefore, the new building is rendered in a more vertical Italianate style echoing other houses in the surrounding historic district and throughout the lower Connecticut River valley. Its apparently traditional materials are modern and more durable than the original. These include siding, trim, and windows as well as details like light fixtures and door hardware.
Though the design holds to Italianate proportions, with a large overhanging roof, double hung windows, and cupola, its internal composition and floor plan are unique. It is a sunny house throughout, far more than its ancestors, with oversized windows and French doors. Surrounded by a wooden porch with expansive prospects to the river north and south, the house’s main level includes a living room, dining room, and kitchen, all enjoying the views. They surround the central stair topped by the cupola, a light well that brings daylight throughout the core of the house, especially the upper hall leading to three bedrooms and bathrooms. The lowest level of the stair, still skylit, leads to a ‘garden room’ that steps outside to a shady terrace overlooking the river.