Renovated eighteenth century house

The renovation of this eighteenth century homestead in an apple orchard located in Columbia County, New York has been designed by Messana O’Rorke. The earliest recorded date for the house is 1734; however, many years of use and renovation have made the actual date unclear. Fabricated in huge hand hewn timbers the basic frame and form of the house conforms to the ‘H bent’ frame consistent with Dutch settlers of that time. This, some wide board flooring and a miraculously preserved wattle and daub wall in the field stone basement are about all that remained of the original house.

The design for the house developed organically; stripping back various additions and removing interior partitions from previous renovations revealed a classic house form. The addition’s rectilinear form is separated from the house by a continuous glass gasket, windows are replaced by glass planes and the exterior walls are clad in CorTen steel, which will rust to a point where they complement the cedar siding of the house.

The house was planned with two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and a living room and dining room down stairs separated by a through wall fireplace. The addition contains the kitchen, guest bedroom and shower room on the ground floor and an exercise room, sauna and steam room in the cellar. The cellar has a large glass door that looks out over the lawn to the orchard. Internally the house’s only surviving finish was about a third of its original wide board floor, which were beautiful 1 1/2 inch thick 16-foot long boards of white pine some widths of which exceeded 24 inches.

Fourteen hundred square feet of eighteenth century wide board flooring was discovered at a local antique shop, having been salvaged from a house demolished twenty years ago and then left to gather dust in someone’s barn. The wood was procured and installed in the house. The floors of the addition by contrast are finished in limestone, which was also used for the hearth of the central fireplace in the house. Other interior finishes were shared throughout the house, plaster, exposed oiled wood, and stainless steels.

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