Charming Addition

Can a house built in the 17th century mesh with 21st-century style? See how a little teamwork can make it happen.
Julie Feagin Sandner / Photography by: Jean Allsopp / Styling by: Lisa Powell

Surrounded by rolling hills and spectacular views of the St. Mary's River, this Maryland home celebrates its rich history yet functions as a modern family residence. Approaching the house by way of a winding gravel road, it's difficult to determine what's new and what was built in the late 17th century. But then, that's the point.

All In Time
Pat and Shep McKenney purchased this home in the early 1980s and raised four children in its quaint quarters. Twenty years later, they were ready for a change--and ready to devote the time and energy they knew this project would require. "We wanted to leave the place better than we found it," Pat says.

Historic Intervention
Sadly, years before the McKenneys purchased the home, the incredible views were in jeopardy due to growing developments in the area. To prevent this, the Maryland Historic Trust bought an easement, disallowing subdivision and stating the terms for future additions. From then on, any addition had to look much like the existing house, only smaller. The trust even provided a drawing. While the trust aimed to save the historic integrity of the house, their specific plan didn't make the house any easier for a 21st-century family to live in.

Plan To Preserve
Architect Stephen Muse was a natural fit for the project; the McKenneys admired the work of his firm on other historic homes in the area. His approach was simple. The original residence would remain the prominent structure on the property, but instead of duplicating the original home, he designed a series of small buildings. It was a brilliant solution that pleased everyone.

The addition is divided into two parts joined by hyphens, which are enclosed walkways that connect buildings. The first hyphen links the residence to the new family room and kitchen. These rooms are gabled structures with an adjoining lean-to porch. Stephen designed glass pocket doors to separate the porch from the family room.

A second hyphen connects the family room to the master suite, which is made up of two small buildings called ordinaries. Square in shape with a pyramid-style roof, ordinaries were historically used as garden sheds.


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Charming Addition
Pages 112-114: Architecture by Muse Architects, Washington, D.C.; builder was Horizon Builders, Crofton, Maryland; interiors by Robert Martin, Carolina Furniture, Williamsburg; landscape by Peter Viteretto, Landscapes, Westport, Connecticut.