THE PEPPERING OF quaint towns between Boston and Providence, R.I., are what many would consider the quintessence of New England. Rich in colonial history and succinct in their Shaker pragmatism, these villages have long been celebrated for their simple beauty.

So when Thorndike Development endeavored to build a 55-acre active adult community in this neck of the woods, not far from the banks of the Canoe River, it seemed prudent to stick with the program. Neither urban nor suburban in feel, Red Mill Village exudes a decidedly small-town vibe. Its 156 modest-sized (1,870- to 2,863-square-foot), master-down homes prove faithful to the regional salt-box vernacular with their gabled roof forms, white trim, and textured blend of clapboard and shingle siding. Close-knit residences are assembled around social hubs such as the village green, country store, and Quaker-style meeting house.

The meeting house, which combines two historic styles, is perhaps the most iconic nod to the region's history. From the front, its steep-pitched roof and smooth beadboard façade bear the countenance of a traditional Quaker place of worship—an aesthetic that carries through to interior spaces articulated with formal wainscoting and hardwood flooring. As the building recedes, however, a connector piece marks the transition to a more rustic, barn-like realm in back, complete with an exposed truss ceiling and, on the exterior, red shingles and oversized slate-blue carriage doors. The barn elevation spills out on to a flagstone terrace overlooking neat rows of individual garden plots.

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Photo: Michael Nixon
Photo: Michael Nixon

Happily for residents, there are aspects of this rural Yankee life that are not quite Emersonian in their self-reliance. In lieu of traditional wood siding, houses are clad in fuss-free Hardiplank and Hardishingle. And all exterior maintenance and landscaping duties are handled by the condo association.

Categories: Active adult community; Community recreation building or clubhouse; Entrant/Architect: Devereaux & Associates, McLean, Va.; Builder/Developer: Thorndike Development, Norton, Mass.; Land planners/Landscape architects: Richard Burke Associates, Somerville, Mass.; Tom Ryan Associates, Waltham, Mass.; Interior designer: Design East Interiors, Exeter, N.H.

INSTANT PATINA The full-spectrum palette for Red Mill Village's blend of townhouses and single-family homes isn't exactly shy, but it is restrained in a manner that befits New England tradition. Hardishingle cladding was tempered with bleach in some places to give it a worn look. “It's a process that wood would go through naturally,” notes Sandy Fennell, an associate architect with Devereaux & Associates. At the streetscape level, color plays an important role in delineating architecture marked by a repetition of forms. Each unit's dual-tone façade is specified to offset the hues of adjacent structures.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Boston, MA.