Restoring an Italianate-Style House in Cape Cod

When I saw this beautiful Italianate-style house with the bright yellow door, I had to learn more about it. Known as “The Moorings,” it was built in 1864 and sits on Main Street near downtown Chatham in Cape Cod.

The current owners hired the architecture and construction firm Polhemus Savery DaSilva to restore the house to the way it looked in historical photographs. Here’s how the front of the house looked before the renovation began a few years ago:

It didn’t look bad, but a lot of changes had been made to the house over the years that took away from its original character. According to the PSD website:

“Antique photographs allowed precise recreation of the historical details of the unique entry hood-roof and brackets that had been removed. An arched attic window that had at some point been removed was replicated and installed. The decorative brackets that line the gables and overhangs were replicated and replaced in areas where they had been removed.”

Here’s one of the old photographs of the house, circa 1918, that they’re referring to:

Isn’t it fun to see old photos like that? The house used to have shutters and a more elegant gable above the front door. Here’s a close-up of the restored exterior (love it!):

The floor in the entry hall is new but was designed to look like it had been there from the beginning:

The wood paneling in this room is a show-stopper:

“The existing dining and living room wood floors, detailed wall paneling and ornate fireplaces were salvaged and refinished.”

Here’s how the kitchen looked before:

And after the renovation:

For their work on this house, they were awarded the 2010 Chatham Preservation Award.

It’s believed that one of the original owners, Rear Admiral Charles Rockwell, built the octagonal gazebo on the side of the house in the early 1900s. Here’s a closer look at it, which is where I’d be sitting right now if I could:

It makes me happy to see an old house like this get the kind of thoughtful restoration it deserves. For more photos and information about the remodel, visit the Polhemus Savery DaSilva website. (Photography by Brian Vanden Brink.)

BTW, last year I featured a house PSD designed and built known as “Champlain’s Bluff“–a gorgeous summer home in Cape Cod:

To thank me, the architect John DaSilva graciously sent me an autographed copy of his new book, called Shingled Houses in the Summer Sun. I was pretty excited when it showed up in my mailbox. With a title like that, I knew I’d love it.

Not only are the houses in the book gorgeous to look at, but it’s interesting to read his thoughts on architecture. For example, he writes:

“The houses we create should be fresh and of our time, yet they should also evoke the familiar and the timeless–they should be new and old at the same time. They should be extraordinary in their spatial and expressive qualities but also skillfully crafted and comfortably connected to the ordinary and the everyday. They should be restrained and exuberant at the same time; elegant, but whimsical and fun.” -John R. DaSilva

You can learn more about the book here and Polhemus Savery DaSilva’s work here.

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  1. says

    Julia, great score. I love the home you featured. How sweet of John to send you a copy of his book. Shingle Style is my all time favorite. I want to live on the New England Seaboard.

  2. Jane says

    I think my favorite thing ever is seeing old photos of properties! I’m so jealous! My home is from 1816 and would do (almost) anything for a picture like that! They certainly deserve the award!

  3. nanne says

    that floor in the foyer is gorgeous as is the rest of the home.

    nanne in columbus, indiana

  4. says

    Love a shingle style home! Great illustration of how something old can be made wonderful, current and fabulous. The details in older homes are so wonderful and add so much character. Many are things people today aren’t willing to pay for (real wood built-ins are not cheap) and there aren’t as many skilled craftsman around. They do exist and it is worth the investment, but it is an investment.

    Thanks for the tip on PSD, too! Good to know.


  5. missy says

    Thanks Julia, what a beautiful house to enjoy my morning coffee with. Kudos to the design team.

  6. Rick says

    Love the before picture, the way before picture. The current picture tells me the owners love their house and it will be cared for. The coment about the old home details being an investment is right. Homes that are cared for and improved for more than resale value or return on investment show it. Sometimes the house just deserves a nicer door or mantle than what similar homes have. We also enjoy them too.

    Hope Maizie likes spring, my 4 come in awfully wet and muddy sometimes.


  7. says

    Those are some amazing parquet floors in the foyer! The kitchen is just brilliant as well. But I gotta say… that yellow front door is FABULOUS!

  8. Jennifer says

    Just love this! I usually go for smaller, cottage type houses, but this is one I can imagine living happily ever after in!

  9. says

    As always, thanks for sharing such beautiful homes! Looks like they did a lot of great work during the restoration. I love the arched doorways – so elegant. Oh, and shingled houses? A dream of mine…for someday :)

  10. Tricia says

    Holy crap!! Whatever the architect charged the homeowners, he was worth every single penny. Stunning!

  11. says

    Chatham is one of the most beautiful town on Cape Cod. Being a local girl I’m partial to anything about the Cape! I drool just driving around when we visit in the summer.

  12. J. Elizabeth says

    Beautiful restoration! Love the yellow door–not a color I would normally think of for a door, but does a great job of giving a distinct personality to an architecturally exquisite home.

  13. says

    Julia – the next time you come home to Cincinnati – I recommend you see if you can get a tour of the old Pogue’s mansion in East Walnut Hills on Park Avenue. Friends used to own it for their business, but never had the money to fully restore the place. It was amazing then with its wood paneling, high ceilings, Rookwood fireplaces, and hidden staircases. They sold it more than 10 years ago and the new owners have done amazing things in restoring the space and landscaping. It still has a carriage house, gazebo, and greenhouse.

    btw the yellow brick house on the right of it was built for the Pogue’s daughter. I worked in that house and it too was an amazing space.

    I’m betting you could get a tour.

    2312 Park Avenue, Walnut Hills
    This splendid Queen Anne frame residence near Eden Park was the home of dry-goods merchant Henry Pogue of the H. & S. Pogue Company. Originally built around 1865, it was enlarged and remodeled in the late 19th century. It is one of the few Walnut Hills estates that has maintained its large lot size as well as its architectural integrity. Following an exemplary adaptive renovation, the Pogue mansion now houses the offices of Vivian Llambi & Associates, landscape architects. Here is an image of the house – but it doesn’t do it justice.

  14. DEW says

    We use to spend our summer vacations in Harwichport,which is just south of Chatham. I remember this house on Main Street in Chatham, and I am pretty sure it used to be a bed and breakfast inn at one time. It is really a beautiful restoration.

  15. says

    Wow…what fantastic work! I am most impressed with the kitchen. They managed to update and modernize it, while keeping a much more classic look than what was there before!

  16. Katherine says

    Ahhh….and I’d be sitting in that gazebo with you! The Cape (as we natives call it)….still my favourite place in the world! These last 11 years in Ireland, and now on our way to France, but…the Cape still holds my heart. Cedar shingles, Cape Cod style or Italianate or Greek revival or Federal or Colonial…whatever yer havin’ yerself, as the Irish like to say…..they’re all there on the Cape.

  17. says

    Thank you so much for the lovely post. We are all thrilled and honored to be on your beautiful blog again! So happy you like the book, too.
    My day is not complete without a visit to Hooked on Houses!
    The best to you,

  18. Kim says

    Now this is how you do a restoration right. Great job to the designers and homeowners. This home is gorgeous!

  19. Lisa T. says

    My question is: why is it that people so long ago, before design blogs, home decor coffee table books and daytime design television, did design so much better?

    Its not just the solid wood built-ins and the hand carved mantels. Its the proportions of the rooms, placement of windows and the myriad thoughtful details that make these homes so unique.

  20. says

    Beautiful. I just did a post on an Italianate home from Mobile Historic Homes Tour. They were very popular from 1840 until after the Civil War, their popularity was replaced by Victorian

    • Slab says

      I was thinking that this house didn’t look very Italianate to me, more Queen Anne. It’s missing the arched windows and elaborate window crowns that mark an Italianate house, but it doesn’t have the requisite Queen Anne porch. So, maybe it’s a transitional house between the two styles.

  21. Brandy says

    Please, please, please (pretty please with a cherry on top!) feature the Parrot-Camp-Soucy house in Newnan, Georgia. It is by far the most amazing Victorian I’ve ever seen, inside and out:

    GPB (our PBS) did a special on it a few years ago: The gardens are the most elaborately maintained private Victorian gardens in the area and it has been a B&B off and on for decades.

  22. says

    Interesting how this house went through several remodelings, but none of them ever wrecked the place. Each one seemed to respect the basic idea and fabric of the house.

  23. Jodi from New Jersey says

    Wow! Really gorgeous– love all the details around the doors, makes them so special.

  24. says

    What a beautiful house – of course I especially love what they’ve done to the kitchen
    Mary x

  25. says

    Fantastic! Love the gazebo and the arched doorway inside the house. Heck, love it all. Thanks for sharing. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  26. Wendy says

    Wonderful, wonderful house. Thanks for profiling it. Kuddos to the architects and the owners for their work.

  27. says

    Thank you Julia and everyone else for your positive comments! The Moorings is a stunning house. It was a real pleasure working with a client who loves it as much as we do and who wanted to take it to a better state. We recently transformed another classic Cape Cod house, Riptide, that is just around the corner from The Moorings. You can see it here on our web site: The interior photos are by Brian Vanden Brink (BVB). The exterior photos are just “scouting” shots and will soon be replaced by recent photos also by BVB.

  28. HollyM says

    Oh, my!! There is nothing I don’t like about this house! Perfection!

  29. Menahil says

    I am in love with this gorgeous house. I just LOVE how they renovated it. Classy! <3<3