Home & Design

A red door opens into an entryway adjacent to the historic home.

 The pool beckons amid new clapboard pavilions.

The open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area foster laid-back entertaining.

Jacobsen preserved the main entrance in the original house, including its Portsmouth-turned spindle balustrade, now protected by high-gloss white paint.

Sea views steal the show in the glass-enclosed primary bedroom. A painting by Cape Cod artist Paul Schulenburg on an automated panel slides to reveal a TV.

Simon Jacobsen restored a 1663 home near Portsmouth. Minimalist pavilions surrounding it revolve around 21st-century living.

Historic Revival

Architect Simon Jacobsen transforms a 1663 Maine abode into a modern vacation escape

When a couple called Simon Jacobsen about reviving an aged Maine home and casually mentioned, “it’s 1663,” the architect assumed they were talking about the address—not the year it was built. To his surprise, the structure not only turned out to be the state’s oldest existing home, but it was also unprotected by a single building regulation.

Jacobsen crafted a plan to realize his clients’ dream for a vacation retreat on-site while preserving the 17th-century gem in the process. “The objective was to save and stabilize the structure, refine it back to its prime of life with a twist and build a sleek, modernist compound around it to protect it like the arms of St. Peter,” he relates.

Outdated additions were removed to make way for a series of pavilions around the original dwelling. They house a great room and kitchen, the primary bedroom, the owners’ bath, guest quarters,
a study and more—adding 7,000 square feet of living space.

The architecture reduced the scale of the new innerconnected structures so they wouldn’t dwarf the existing relic. The completed assemblage recalls historic local vernacular. “Many early New England houses are a collection of building forms that were added on as necessity dictated,” Jacobsen explains. “The structures we added are direct descendants of that idea.”

Architecture: Simon Jacobsen, Jacobsen Architecture, LLC, Washington, DC, and Middleburg, Virginia. Builder: Wright-Ryan Construction, Portland, Maine. 


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