a restrained palette and mix of textures in the living room (above) provide a low-key backdrop for the superb views. facing page, clockwise from top
left: The light-filled front hall connects to the living room. Sleek granite countertops set off the paneled cabinetry. The formal dining room reflects the
homeowner’s love of dark hues. In the enclosed sunporch, the pleasing imperfections of the bluestone floor and wicker chairs lend earthy character.
very house has a story. for a former summer house
located on Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts,
the latest chapter begins after a change in ownership
prompted three years of meticulous renovation.
The 5,000-square-foot house is one of Eastern
Point’s original summer “cottages.” Built in 1889,
when Gloucester was emerging as a fashionable vacation enclave for a dynamic and frequently eccentric
cast of characters including tycoons, artists, writers, politicians, and society matrons, the house is a study in modesty compared with some of the
sumptuous behemoths commissioned at the time.
Much has changed since the late 19th century, but the stellar views
from the waterfront property remain dazzling. Set on a headland between a
rock quarry and the Dog Bar Breakwater, the house captures the sweeping
panorama north to south, from Gloucester Harbor to the open Atlantic.
Still, the soon-to-be new owners’ initial reactions to news that the property was for sale were miles apart. He was intrigued; she was not. An avid
sailor, he was motivated by every mariner’s fondest dream: direct waterfront access. She, on the other hand, felt committed to the home they were
living in at the time, a handsome, rambling, 10,000-square-foot Shingle-style house, another of Eastern Point’s early cottages.
But, days later, after what realtors call a “look-see,” she had begun to
tack, if only slightly, in his direction. “My response was ‘OK, it’s cute, it’s
charming, but it’s a gut job.’ I wasn’t too keen on the concept. But,” she
adds, “he really wanted that ocean access.”
“She thought I was crazy,” he recalls. “But my objective never changed.
The game was to restore one of Eastern Point’s original cottages.”
The couple turned to architect Peter Niemitz of Niemitz Design
Group in Boston, a friend and neighbor. “The house,” says Niemitz, “was a
New England Colonial with a gabled roof, enclosed porch, stucco exterior,
and serious structural problems.” Last overhauled in 1929, maintenance
was long overdue. “Our goal was to make the house simple and gracious,
to take advantage of the natural light and proximity to the water, and to
respect its New England heritage.”
Niemitz reconfigured the interior to address a lack of openness, facilitate the flow of natural light, and embrace the splendid views. “We gutted
the house, replacing the windows, electrical, and heating systems, and
replaced the stucco with shingles to enhance the Shingle-style appearance.”