Historical Preservation

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Thanks to the Internet and numerous shows focused on home improvement and real estate, even a casual design enthusiast can build up a pretty robust vocabulary of architectural terms. But beyond terms like “beadboard” and “crown molding,” there are some words and phrases that can trip up even the most experienced of architects. Today, we’re taking this window of opportunity to dig into two of the more often confused architecture words (even among industry pros): Mullion and Muntin

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Many of our projects begin with a totally clean slate — bringing a client’s vision to life by designing a brand new and completely custom home. But starting from scratch isn’t always necessary. When the location of a home is just right, or an existing home is rich with historic details, a client may choose to renovate instead. Over the years, we’ve had several opportunities to renovate historic homes in stunning locations — blending classic New England charm with the style and needs of a modern family.

Read on to learn more about some of our favorite exterior renovations…

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Compare and contrast. It’s done by everyone; to make the best choice, find the best deal, take the best chance. Throughout any day, endless small decisions are made by the measure of these meters, without even conscious thought: which elevator will come the fastest, which sandwich for lunch, which movie to watch. These choices shape our tastes and styles, these little opinions, from the boots we like to how appealing we find the structure of a doorway. Eventually, such choices begin making larger appearances – where we go to college, where we live – and rarely are choices larger and put on greater display than when they form the creation of your home. In your home, your choices are reflected not just to the current outside world, but to your own family for generations. This is what makes the Wentworth Lear Historic Houses of Portsmouth, New Hampshire a unique and exemplary opportunity to look at the process of taste, culture, and choice in two houses built nearly three centuries ago, in striking contrast, side by side – and both with their stamp on our nation’s history.

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Architecture Advocates: Sarah Foster

by J Dennis Robinson

Portsmouth is unique. New Hampshire’s only seaport, soon to celebrate its 400th anniversary, blends charm and culture with vitality and commerce. In this series historian J.Dennis Robinson profiles people who influenced, honored, pictured, preserved, and promoted the historic architecture of “The Old Town by the Sea.”  

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TMS Architect’s guest blogger and local historian, J. Dennis Robinson,  provided us with a December post that,  in this season of light, appropriately turns its attention to electricity, Ben Franklin and an  historic Portsmouth home. 

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TMS couldn’t let Halloween go by without a piece on Seacoast hauntings from our local historian, J. Dennis Robinson!  New England is famous for its stories about witches, witchcraft and haunted homes and according to Dennis, the Seacoast was not immune from these beliefs. 

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The new owners of this historic residence wished to retain its formal aesthetics but recognized that their young and energetic family needed some additional casual space.  The kitchen and the spaces in the rear ell did not meet the owners’ needs and the second floor master bedroom also served as access to the second floor spaces in the rear ell.  All bathrooms were antiquated and the home also lacked direct exterior access to the large back yard and swimming pool.

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After taking a breather from the publication of his latest book, Smuttynose Murders, and spending some time on the Isle of Shoals, local historian, J. Dennis Robinson returns to the pages of TMS Architects’ blog, with a piece on Dover’s Woodman Museum.  There is still time to visit this wonderful piece of New Hampshire history before school vacation ends! 

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TMS received its 34th post this morning from J. Dennis Robinson, Portsmouth’s historian.  Who knew that the mortar could be so important when restoring old brick structures?  Apparently Master Mason John Wastrom did!    

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Just when we least expect it, a new blog post for TMS Architects arrives from our guest historian, J. Dennis Robinson.  The subject of this one was timely as it had been in the local papers and was wonderful to get more information about this particular building on State Street in downtown Portsmouth.

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In a delightful departure from some of TMS Architect’s other projects, TMS Principal Bill Soupcoff had an opportunity to work with  long-time clients on the renovation of their  Beacon Hill pied a terre.  The couple are owners of a successful inn on the seacoast of New Hampshire and wanted a small apartment in Boston where they could decompress and enjoy the cultural opportunities offered by the city.

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There has been a considerable amount of publicity lately about replicating The Old State House, which is presumed to have once stood in the center of Market Square.  This got our guest historian, J. Dennis Robinson, thinking about other Portsmouth buildings that have also been lost over time.

“Here we go again. Just when you thought Portsmouth’s Old State House was never to return, it’s back in the news. A well-intentioned group wants to build a replica of the 1760-era colonial state house on the site of the city’s federal building off Daniel Street. That dream has been kicking around Portsmouth for almost a century. Architect John Mead Howells tossed out the idea back in the 1930s. I sat on a city committee to study the issue and TMS Architects helped with an in-depth study of the surviving remnants of the building.

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TMS  always learns something interesting about Portsmouth when we publish a post from  J. Dennis Robinson, our guest historical contributor.  Last time we learned about the building that presently houses our offices when it was part of the Eldredge Brewing Company ; this time we learned more about its earlier history in the textile industry.

In our last history installment we learned that the site of the modern TMS Architects offices was once a brewery. Heman (not Herman) Eldredge and his sons ran the Eldredge Brewing Company on the same spot off Bartlett Street in the second half of the 19th century. Although their brew, including Portsmouth Ale, was hugely popular, the Eldredge brand was drowned out by the even greater success of the Frank Jones Brewery just across the tracks in the city’s West End.
But there’s more. The brewery was built on the site of an equally important, but now forgotten, textile factory. Yes, during the 1800s, Portsmouth was also known as a key city for the production of stockings. Who knew?

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When our guest historian, J. Dennis Robinson,  recently wrote about the old Eldredge Brewery in one of his columns for The Portsmouth Herald, we were intrigued because the building in which TMS  Architects offices are located is called Eldredge Park.  We asked him what the connection might be and he supplied us with the following information…he always knows the answer to local lore! 

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Restoring a Victorian home can be a seemingly endless undertaking, both physically and financially. However, once your project is complete, you’ll not only have a beautiful home, but you’ll also have contributed to a historic preservation project in New England. While it’s best to hire a licensed architect to help plan your restoration, there are some tips you can follow if you prefer to do the work yourself.

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Historic preservation in New England is tantamount to most owners of the gems of yesteryear. While older construction is generally far superior to the fast-paced construction of today, modern living makes it necessary to increase your living space while maintaining the integrity of your home’s history. Enter the practice of utilizing sensitive additions.

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When you have old leather bound tomes from grandparents, stacks of stories from those years when toddlers still scurried around the home, and dusty hardcovers that you just can’t let go of, there are few household features to store books like a library. If it seems like you have too many books and nowhere to put them, constructing a library might be your best option; however, some advance planning is required before diving into this endeavor.

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Has the fireplace in your home seen better days? Do you have a historic home that needs a pop of new life as the weather cools off? If you’re still staring at that old, plain fireplace with a grimace, you can get an architect to give it a face-lift. But until you find the right architect to work with, view a few of these fireplace designs for a bit of inspiration.

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Historic preservation is an aspect of Americana that can be seen in New England and communities both small and large. And, this is one of the driving factors that keep some homeowners in their historic home from one generation to the next, leading some to add an addition. But with tight regulations that ensure the integrity of original structures, this is not a project homeowners should take on without the advice and design skills of an experienced architect.

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The exterior of your home sends a message to everyone who sees it. You want it to appear warm and inviting to your family and friends, while giving an impression of security to prowlers and miscreants. Fortunately for homeowners, selection of the design and landscaping of a home can broadcast the message you want to send, whether it’s in an aesthetic or protective sense.

When used properly, outdoor lighting can not only make your home more attractive, it can also transform your home into a safer, better functioning environment for you and your family.

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