Traditional Design, Modern Construction
A new farmhouse features historically inspired details executed with low-maintenance materials.
Synopsis: On Shelter Island at the eastern end of Long Island, a collection of four Greek-revival homes inspired architect Ian McDonald when he was hired to design a new home. The new farmhouse features historically inspired details that are made with modern, durable materials such as PVC. Also in keeping with its contemporary nature, the house has an open floor plan. To make the house seem as if it was built longer ago than it was, it was designed in a long, narrow style to make it look as if it had a lengthy history.
In the 1840s, Gabriel Crook, a local carpenter, builder, and architect, designed and built four Greek-revival houses on Shelter Island, N.Y. In the tradition of the time, all the materials used in their construction were milled or manufactured locally and transported by boat from Long Island and New England. Crook left the island in 1849 to seek fortune in California’s gold rush, but his houses remain and continue to inspire those who live and visit here. As a resident of Shelter Island, I once had the great opportunity to study one of the four Crook houses in detail. I planned one day to build myself a house that would be inspired by his work.
When new clients approached me to design their new house, they were under contract to purchase 2.6 acres that backed up against Sylvester Manor, the original island homestead dating to 1652. The property also edged Dering Harbor, a village with approximately 30 formal, white painted colonial houses. Like many who decide to build on this island, they were looking for a traditional design that would fit the regional architecture. However, instead of a historical reproduction, they wanted the house to have a contemporary quality and be easy to manage and…