A Newport Landmark Gets a Beautiful Renovation



Newport Boathouse Connecticut

When a house earns landmark status or designation within a historic district, it is no longer an entirely personal retreat. The building becomes part of a larger narrative about how a community perceives itself and what it holds dear. When that house stands on an active waterfront, plainly visible to boaters and tourists, then homeownership becomes an even more public act. Our [Mark P. Finlay Architects] thoughtful modernization of Aloha Landing in Newport, Rhode Island, acknowledges that owning a historic house is both a privilege and a responsibility.

The namesake of Aloha Landing was the Aloha, a 218-foot-long (66.5-meter) sailing yacht designed by Clinton Crane in 1909 for Arthur Curtiss James and completed the following year. Because the ship had a large draw, in 1911 James erected his boathouse on Brenton Cove, just west of the Ralph Adams Cram–designed mansion that would become the clubhouse of the New York Yacht Club. Located on a narrow right of way at the end of a cobblestone drive, Aloha Landing also served as the deputy waterfront of Beacon Hill House, the landlocked Howells & Stokes residence that James and his wife, Harriet, occupied as their Newport cottage.

Newport Boathouse Connecticut gallery

This 1,600-square-foot (149-square-meter) building was made to the Jameses’ measure. Harriet, the social director of the couple, used the half-timbered upper story to host guests or simply enjoy the view to Cram’s only local residential commission. The boathouse’s immediate proximity to anchorage allowed AC James’s 39 crew members to stock and unload the yacht quickly. And what better example of uncompromising design than the hand-cranked turntable by which the millionaire could rotate his car on the sliver of property?

While Aloha Landing was bespoke for a time and place, circumstances shifted inevitably. Shortly after Aloha Landing’s completion, the Bonniecrest estate designed by John Russell Pope began rising directly to its east. The Aloha itself was conscripted into service during World War I, and scrapped in 1938. After both Harriet and AC died in 1941, Aloha Landing changed ownership and suffered neglect and disrepair. By the time our client was introduced, the building, its slate-topped chestnut roof and oak post-and-beam framing were rotting, and concrete foundations had partially crumbled.

We salvaged what remained intact and precisely matched replacement materials. Beams were tagged by satellite tracking, for example, then removed for repair or substitution with newly purchased antique lumber. Dissecting the structure allowed us to improve on the 1909 design. Armed with deep historical research, as well as the approval of Newport’s Historic District Commission, we repositioned the stairs to the center of the house, so that any visitor can intuitively enter and descend to the dock on that same axis. In addition to improving circulation, we moved the fireplace to the east elevation—both reorienting views to the west and offering privacy from Bonniecrest, which now operates as a sprawling condominium complex.

The Jameses would likely approve of how our revisions to Aloha Landing’s interior further honor the past while navigating unavoidable change. The revitalized space emulates the famous naval architecture of Captain Nathanael G. Herreshoff, with highly varnished cherry gleaming against white millwork; an original Aloha compass is embedded within a newel post; the turntable has been motorized. Other accolades will have to suffice in the vaunted couple’s absence. Besides winning the gratitude of our forward-thinking client, Aloha Landing earned the 2013 Doris Duke Preservation Award from the Newport Restoration Foundation.

A version of this article appeared in the June 2018 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Working with Landmarks.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Property of Note Listing

15 Kings Dock Road, Garrison, NY
Enjoy the best that the Hudson Valley has to offer at this 9-acre estate offering awe-inspiring vistas, stunning passive architecture and a unique private deep-water dock on the Hudson River. Sited to take full advantage of the amazing scenery, the three-bedroom residence is a triumph of modernist design featuring airy open-plan living spaces and vast window walls that dramatically frame the blissful water and mountain views. The setting, boasting ¼ mile of frontage along the river, also hosts a two-bedroom guest house, a striking Greek temple/playhouse overlooking the river and a detached garage.



View more details about 15 Kings Dock Road
Nautilus Architects
Christopher Arelt’s practice, Nautilus Architects, involves collaboration and interpretation, with each design evolving in its own way in response to the site, context and client. Chris’ work is seen as a continuation of but also a response to Modernism; or, more specifically, a return to regionalism and artistry, where clients’ projects are developed with the “head, hearts and hands” of all those involved. All of our buildings explore the use of natural light, reveal the inherent beauty of the materials being used, and bring the outdoors in.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

Laura Kaehler

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Designer Spotlight

Fiona Leonard Interiors
Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

Fiona Leonard Interiors

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Architect Spotlight

Daniel Conlon Architects
Wind and weather, the ebb and flow of the tide, changing color and light define the rhythm of coastal living. This recent home embraces the idea with light-filled spaces , expansive views , cozy niches, and outdoor living environments. Landscape terraces and stonework ground the building to the site, while respecting all current building codes. Daniel Conlon Architects, based in Wilton CT, has designed numerous waterfront homes throughout the Northeast.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module