One way to expand a centuries-old cabin is to attach another old building to it. It’s a poetic solution, though not the easiest to pull off. Nestled into a mountain slope, a wobbly 1794 toll cabin and its 1856 frame addition were this property’s raw materials. To that structure the architects added slave quarters (circa 1840) from a Maryland farm. Its chestnut logs were dismantled, catalogued, and reassembled on site.
“It was important to maintain a sense of layering and respect for the existing fabric,” says architect David Haresign. The two cabins, now flanking the white cypress-clad 1856 addition, were restored and rechinked with foam insulation, and new roof framing was made from reclaimed logs. But other, more modern insertions help to bring a clarifying hierarchy to the hodgepodge of buildings. The imported chestnut cabin has double-height windows facing the river. And a slim glass connector attaches it to the clapboard midsection, whose copper roof and shed dormer differentiate it from the cedar-roof log cabins.
Interiors, too, are reinterpreted for modern life. The architects tore out the second floors to create double-height spaces and highlight the logs. The toll cabin’s stone fireplace is the focal point of the axial layout, with the chestnut cabin windows providing a cross-axis along its perpendicular ridge line. Built-ins, kitchen, baths, stairs, and sleeping loft were made from raw steel and locally sourced silked oak. “The logs were not very straight, so all the modern interventions are separate from the historic fabric,” including, Haresign adds, the first-floor’s modern “outhouse.”