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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
October 2014
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: The Historic Restoration of a Sea Captain's Home

Architectural Firm of the Month: Cummings Architects

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone - Prospect Park  Welcome to the October issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it! Your project could be featured in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.

In fifteen years of working with a diverse collection of clients in a wide variety of New England communities, Cummings Architects has come to deeply understand the transformative power of a well-designed space.


A self-proclaimed architecture fanatic, Mat's genuine love for the art and craft of his profession is infectious. His passion draws out the best in his teammates and makes his clients feel comfortable immersing themselves in the process. A skilled and empathetic listener, he is able to read between the lines to uncover valuable insights and creative inspiration.

Over his career, Mat has worked on many notable houses throughout New England, but his passion remains rooted in the happiness of his clients and the designs he creates for them, not the accolades.

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Before purchasing the historic Captain Sutton House in Ipswich, Massachusetts, homeowners consulted with architect Mathew Cummings about the First Period home which was in too poor a condition to live in at the time. After careful examination, Cummings determined that the house was worth saving. Cummings, with the help of the late master joiner and timber framer James D. Whidden, began an extensive restoration project which involved the dismantling, moving and reassembling of the historic house.


The First Period of colonial American architecture is described as architecture that was built approximately between 1626 to 1725. Architectural elements from this period include steeply pitched roofs, large central chimneys and exposed beams. The front facades of these houses often faced south to maximize exposure to the sun and therefore increase the amount of heat in the interior.


Before the restoration project began, the Captain Sutton House was thought to have been built in 1743, but according to The Ipswich Historical Commission, "when timber framer Jim Whidden began disassembling the frame, architect Matt Cummings and architectural historian Sue Nelson discovered evidence dating the eastern part of the house to 1677. The location had been a shipyard owned by Moses Pengry. Etchings of schooners on the house sheathing confirmed the discovery, since they were a "record of what kinds of ships were being built at the time."


Architect Mat Cummings explains, "There was an original portion of the home called the 'one over one' that was built in the 17th century and consisted of a hall and chamber."


Whidden, master joiner on the project, had further explained, "The Sutton House was originally a 'one over one'. The posts are jowled with the common English tying joint. The frame is completely White Oak and the Hall Summer is chamfered with a simple lambs tongue termination, crudely executed. The roof framing is of principal rafter/trenched purlin design with some purlins being replaced apparently when the building was added to on the south side, becoming a center chimney '2 over 2'. The roof had a generous gable overhang, as the overhanging top plates on the south side were intact, albeit mortised to pick up the top plates of the (parlor) addition."


Cummings and Whidden restored the home by stripping it down to the post and beam framework in order to rebuild. The original layout was maintained and original features were maintained or reused, including floors, halls, doors, staircases, fireplaces, and even the original nails."  


Taking an historical house and restoring it in a way that not only honors its original form but also makes it suitable for modern living is a task best undertaken by those with a keen awareness and appreciation for its historical significance. As Cummings explains, "The most important thing is loving the house for what it once was."


"We documented the entire existing home, every timber, every joist, and even every piece of lathe. Then after we were done documenting the home and understanding it, we determined what period we were going to restore the home to in each room or each section of the home."


When stripping away materials from the original rooms, Cummings says one needs to be very sensitive about the process. He explains, "It's not uncommon for there to be original plaster on the walls. When that happens we actually restore the frame of the house from the exterior by removing the clapboards and boards and we number each one. Then we place insulation and electric from the exterior of the walls and then replace all the boards and clapboards to their original locations and we only remove things that we have to."


"There are a lot of historic architects out there but they mostly do public work or they mostly do redesigning of the homes. We have a niche for these old homes which is to bring the old home back and provide people with all these really awesome designs for kitchens and bathrooms and things that allow them modern living. Typically we do this by removing these areas from the original fabric of the home and create wonderful modern additions so the homeowners can live their lives in two worlds. They can have a roaring fire in an old fireplace with maybe light only by candlelight, and then they can walk into their modern kitchen with downlights and soft closing drawers. They can live in the modern world in the additions, or they can live in the original rooms when they want to. This way, people can enjoy the spaces for what they once were."


The dining room of the Captain Sutton House was referred to as the Hall, and is where everyone gathered and spent most of their time back in the day. All of the ceiling beams are original and there is a first period fireplace in the room as well.  


Cummings states, "I think if somebody who originally lived in the house walked into one of the rooms today, they might actually feel as though they're home."


The project took two-and-a-half years to complete and the homeowners received the 2012 Mary P. Conley Preservation Award for the restoration of their home. The award, named in honor of Mary for her endless dedication to preserving historical sites, is given to the owners of Ipswich, MA properties that are deemed noteworthy for a recent restoration or general improvement.

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: 


Architectural Record Continuing Education Center

Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture 

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: 

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.





Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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