Q+A with Crystal Wilson of Douston Construction and architect Brian Beaudette on recycling elements of an old hotel into a new home
The couple who purchased the former Eagle Rock Hotel in Kennebunk had hoped to save and renovate the gracious 1886 structure, but the foundation was in disrepair, and the roof system had been altered beyond restoration. When the homeowners decided to build anew, Wilson and Beaudette collaborated to incorporate some of the hotel’s historic features into the design.
Q: What items were you able to reclaim?
Wilson: The paneled wood pocket doors from the original dining room, a set of French doors from the entryway, and brackets from the front porch. We also saved the stair railings to use in other projects, and we have cut the original framing timbers and converted them into fireplace mantels for other homes.
Q: How did you use them?
Wilson: The pocket doors couldn’t be used inside the new structure, as the ceilings weren’t high enough. Instead, Douston refinished them with marine-grade stain and installed them on an integrated exterior storage area, lending historic styling to the upper terrace.
Beaudette: When the French doors were identified as salvageable, it was pretty apparent they needed to go in the new turret room to give it a special entry, and we needed a space with a high enough ceiling to fit them. Walking through those doors into the turret feels like you are stepping through a time machine to a bygone chapter of the property’s history.
Wilson: The wooden porch brackets were used beneath the cantilevered stair-landing bump-out on the side of the house, in keeping with period styling. It’s wonderful to use old wood products when you can. Brackets these days are often made of composite materials, which do not hold up as well as solid wood, or PVC, which doesn’t have the same look. Antique supports made of old-growth wood are also denser and more stable than new wood products.
Q: Why is it important to work with salvaged pieces?
Beaudette: We are stewards of our surroundings and of the architectural history of our area. Finding new ways to incorporate old items is our responsibility, and it’s a passion for Crystal and me. Using part of a previous structure metaphorically allows for the continuation of the legacy of the old structure and imbues the new one with a sense of history and warmth.