Hydrangea Walk is recognizable on Chatham’s Shore Road, a boulevard set above the harbor and ocean beyond. The public facade is an icon that has been the subject of tourists’ photos and postcards since the house was originally built in 1938. After many unsympathetic alterations, the house was tired when PSD’s client purchased it. They requested major additions and renovations to transform it for contemporary living and entertaining on a grand scale without diminishing its historic character.
Circulation through the existing house was circuitous. Daily living spaces were only accessible to the rest of the house through a butler’s pantry and the kitchen work area. The gracious lawn and huge ancient oak tree on the landward side were separated from the house by a parking area and garage. The dark interiors had very little connection to the spectacular yard of several acres and its western exposure. Aside from enlarging windows and dormers in the wings to take better advantage of ocean views, PSD’s design recreates the front elevation, with its Colonial Revival core and telescoping end wings. Both the front and back elevations of the core were originally designed as symmetrical, center entry fronts: a two-story Colonial facing the street and ocean, and a one-story dormered Cape facing the backyard and the town of Chatham, visible downhill in the distance. PSD’s work maintains this dual-entry façade scenario; however, the landward elevation and the sides of the house were significantly altered. New westward-projecting wings form a three-sided courtyard. The house and context are now connected visually and functionally. At the interior, corridors were added on both levels across the back of the historic core. The central entry hall was enlarged and regularized to be scaled and shaped appropriately to the grand house. Tight, dark spaces and circuitous circulation were replaced by generous, bright spaces and clear circulation.