Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects

Text description provided by the architects. An abandoned Yacht Club, poised at the edge of the bay, sat derelict for years, all while bearing witness to the relentless coastal climate of Maine.  Built in 1919, it endured a series of interventions after the Club relocated in 1946. This resulted in the removal of much of the interior fabric and all that remained intact was the original Club Room.  It would require the right temperament and commitment to restore its historical memory while modernizing the early 20th-century structure.

Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Exterior Photography, Waterfront, Forest
Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Image 46 of 53

Built partially on the ledge and partially on clay, the foundation was deteriorating as evidenced by severe settling of the structure above.  Furthermore, it was never designed to comply with present floodplain regulations.  The stone walls would require buttressing and underpinning to endure the obstinate conditions its site presents.  So, the superstructure was removed, and the club room was deconstructed piece by piece, each labeled and numbered.  The chimney was also dismantled; a giant jigsaw puzzle carefully laid out on the ground for future reassembly.

Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Image 20 of 53
Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Exterior Photography, Windows

After the foundation was reinforced and repointed, a new wood and steel superstructure was erected above in the exact shape and profile of the original Yacht Club.  Inside this shell, the Club Room was rebuilt, replete with its accompanying chimney.  And here lies the point of departure for the new construction.  Renovation often calls to mind the thought problem of Theseus’ ship.  How does one renovate a historical structure and adapt it to a new use without obfuscating past and present? 

Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Exterior Photography, Windows

The solution in this case involved developing an architectural language that relates to the old while clearly of the present.  Two large moves helped transform it into a residence while paying homage to its past.  In both instances old and new are clearly distinct.  The replacement of a corner of the Club Room with large sliding glass panels coupled with the addition of two glass dormers transformed the otherwise lightless building into a two-way receptacle for light.  While admitting sunlight deep into the house throughout the day, at night it is a luminous beacon on the coast, a reminder of memory restored.

Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Interior Photography, Living Room, Windows, Table, Beam
Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Interior Photography, Table, Sofa, Chair, Beam, Windows
Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Image 48 of 53
Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Interior Photography, Kitchen, Table, Windows, Countertop, Beam

The organization of the site follows a ceremonial progression from arrival through the various aspects of the landscape to a culmination in the vista out to the sea.  People and automobiles arrive at the same place, an entry court high above the house.  Vehicular access is prohibited from this point and pedestrians and passengers merge and descend through the site. 

Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Interior Photography, Table
Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Interior Photography, Bedroom, Bed

A series of stone steps defines a winding path that leads to the entry of the house or continues along the terrain to a terrace overlooking the ocean.  Here the house emerges from the ledge and even those parts of the home that are not transparent blend with the environment.  The modern interventions appear in harmony with the traditional, never confrontational.  There is something familiar about it, and yet something unexpected.  It invites discovery and begs exploration, reawakening memory once lost to time.

Old Yacht Club / Elliott Architects - Exterior Photography, Windows

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