Navigating a Coastal Renovation
Photography by Anne Gummerson
Bob and Liz Hammond retain a waterfront property’s past while rebuilding for their future
Following in footprints can be a painstaking process, especially when considering renovations of structures along the Eastern Shore. Preserving existing buildings and carefully planning renovations of any property in Maryland’s critical waterfront regions require following strict regulations. “It’s for the best,” says Bob Hammond, principal of Hammond Wilson Architects.
Bob, who has primarily designed new residential homes and additions along the Eastern Shore in his 30 years in Annapolis, MD, relates to the traditional and neo-traditional home styles prevalent in this area and responds by bringing his own set of signature Hammond elements to each home.
So when an opportunity came along to not only buy and add onto a 1930s colonial situated along the beautiful banks of the Corsica River, but also to rebuild a cottage and boathouse on existing footprints, Bob and his wife Liz took up the challenge.
For the Hammonds, the foundations of the existing structures shaped the journey to their new life along the river. “Architecturally, we saw in the property the opportunity to make a house reminiscent of some of the early Maryland houses that we both have always been drawn to,” Bob says. His firm, which he runs with business partner Leo Wilson, responds to the designs of existing structures by creating timeless solutions to architectural updates.
For their three-and-a-half-acre waterfront setting, the Hammonds knew they wanted to build upon the traditional vernacular of the brick colonial while adding a touch of whimsy when reconstructing the cottage and boathouse. “We love the idea of a cluster of separate buildings, all housing separate functions, and grouped around a main house,” Bob adds. A “cottage vocabulary” resonates from structure to structure.
One way to carry a theme throughout a home or group of buildings is to stay within a color scheme. White painted clapboard siding distinguishes the new cottage, boathouse, and main house’s added spaces, including the garage along the right side of the property’s entrance court. “All have steep roof forms and proportions similar to the main house, however, they are fresh and new,” Bob says. These elements, along with layering exterior effects for shade and shadows, link the three buildings in an informal fashion. The formal rooms remain in the primary residence, which was built in the 1930s by Philip Reeves, a retired merchant vessel captain who settled on the land known then and now as The Moorings.
“The original house, while not historic, has a sense of the past and played a prominent role in local history,” Bob says. Captain Reeves was the first commodore of the Corsica River Yacht Club where an annual regatta and sailing classes for children still take place.
Beginnings for Both
The Hammonds first learned about The Moorings from Bob’s son, Richard Hammond, who lives in the area. When Richard heard the property was going on the market, he alerted his father to take a look. After a contract fell through, luck was in Bob and Liz’s favor and they settled on the home and land in 2003.
Studying under the contemporary architect Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania, Bob says most of his designs in Maryland have been traditional, but with his personal twist. He combines this style with light, open spaces – an ideal combination for the work to be done on The Moorings’ structures.
“We purchased the property primarily due to its potential to become a really special place,” Bob says. It also gave Bob the opportunity to work with his son, who was starting his own construction business. “I enjoyed the back and forth with Richard,” Bob says, noting that many details were decided in the field, not typical when he works with clients.
“There was no middleman,” adds Richard, who often sent e-mails or digital images to his father asking him what he thought of a design change. Richard also custom designed and built many of the finishing touches, such as the kitchen island counter and built-ins.
Here to Stay
After clearing the acreage, rebuilding the guest cottage and boathouse, and spending summers and weekends in the cottage, Bob and Liz realized before building the addition to the house that they wanted to live at the Corsica River location year-round. Because the original house had unusually high 8’6″ ceilings and hadn’t been renovated at all, the character of the home was not compromised. So the Hammonds essentially left the spaces intact with the exceptions of the bathrooms and the old kitchen, which became a wet bar area. In the addition, the modern kitchen meets the open family room providing water views and a connection to the screened-in porch. A breezeway links the new rooms to the garage and pool.
“In the city, changes from day to day have little impact on daily life,” Bob says. “Here, sunrises, wind, and water affect you.” There’s an awareness about the wildlife, too, which is especially important to Liz, who is an equestrian and previously had a dairy farm in upstate New York. Their waterfront residence also gives her a reprieve from her work as a legislative aide in the Maryland General Assembly.
“Working under pressure is a good thing,” says Bob, who balances the fast pace of his profession with his serene life along the Corsica River.
With environmental concerns, the reawakening of neo-traditional designs in the area, and the ever-increasing advances in technology, Hammond Wilson Architects is keeping current by adding a LEED-certified architect to the firm and holding seminars about green products. When beginning all new projects, Bob considers high-efficiency heating systems, the sun’s orientation on the site, and ways to minimize disturbance of the environment. Today, though, clients want more, the architect says. They’re asking for additional eco-friendly, recycled, and sustainable products and are willing to pay for them . Green design is more of a hot button in commercial work, Bob says, but residential work is catching up.
At The Moorings, the existing buildings’ locations dictated the use of energy-conserving systems, while technology advanced the efficiency of decision-making between builder and homeowners. Bob and Liz collaborated on the design of every structure. “But Bob has the design knowledge,” Liz says. “Besides, who could argue with this?”
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