Victorian Home Addition

Cambridge, MA

Project Participants:

Architect: Charles Myer & Partners. Designer: Andra Birkerts of Andra Birkerts Design

We added additions to this 1860’s Victorian mansard home on Buckingham Street, in Cambridge, as  part of a larger renovation. We also did extensive updates and reconfigurations, with the additions being in the rear of the house. This project was memorable, not just for its scope, but for the ways that we were able to maintain historic architectural themes through the changes. For example, an exterior porch was closed in, to gain space for a new dining area, and the original porch columns were sawn down the middle. The resulting “pilasters” were applied at intervals, referencing these original details at both the exterior and interior. S + H added an elegant fireplace and chimney to this space, with a hearth built of black glazed tile.

This historic design motif was maintained through other updates, and can be seen in the kitchen renovations, in the new column capitals there. Our work in the kitchen revealed a mystery of historic interest. The lofted ceiling area, seen there, was formerly closed up into a tiny room, accessed only by a concealed door and narrow staircase. Its purpose is unknown, though it is speculated that it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. 

We replaced all systems throughout the house, including new boilers, baths and high velocity HVAC. We built an outdoor deck in the backyard and replaced the slate roof on the mansard, sourcing matching slate, and fitting it with custom copper gutters, flashings and downspouts. The owner’s plans called for refinishing the basement, and in order to obtain the necessary headroom, we dug out the floor below the existing stone foundations. This was done in short sections, to avoid collapse, and concrete footings and foundation walls  were furnished as the work progressed.