on his daily route, the postman passes by what appears to
be a typical, classically styled two-car garage in the historic Martha’s Vineyard village
of Edgartown, Massachusetts. Had he the inclination to peek into the windows,
however, rather than automobiles, he would spy the ultimate family game room — a
clever transformation courtesy of architect Patrick Ahearn.
“In summer, the place serves as the evening retreat and rainy-day haven for the
hole family and their guests,“ says Ahearn, principal in the firm Ahearn/Schopfer and
Associates, which has offices in Boston and Edgartown. “But once the fall comes, the
furniture and games roll out and the cars roll in for the winter.” On the island, Ahearn
is known for his iconic Shingle-style manors, often the vacation homes of the rich and
famous. Coves and coastline are dotted with his luxurious manses measured in five
figures of square footage. But in town, Ahearn tells another story.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, Edgartown village developed as a working com-unity, with whaling and fishing as the twin engines of commerce. In-town lots were
usually small and narrow, often bridging the tight roadways. Whatever the structure
on a home site, the dimensions had to be rather modest. “So whenever a family built
something,” says Ahearn, “that decision always followed the needs of a growing family
or business, and usually both.”
Fast-forward to today, and Ahearn has the same vision, but with a twist.
“In that historical time frame, the outbuildings might be a stable, a carriage house, a
hing-gear shed, or a blacksmith shop — something tied to the family’s pursuit of work,”
he says. “Today, we adapt or build new such structures as the source of play, of fun.”
As with most of his projects — especially on the Vineyard — Ahearn is guided by his
nse of what he calls “implied history.” Even when building on an empty site, he tries
to create an architectural narrative consistent with what historically could have evolved
inside the arched doors of the building is a summertime
game room and recreational space (top), where the family
can hang out on rainy days. The sturdy brick floor, here a
backdrop for an antique candlepin bowling set, is a
reminder that, come fall, the space reverts to a garage.