While we renovated the inn this winter, we did not renovate our website, SO for the time being, this post will serve as an introduction to the look, feel, vibe of the “New Rooms” at the Woods Hole Inn.
Some general comments: these rooms are all on the second floor of the inn. They all have vintage restored wood floors, the same wood floors that were always here just polished up. All have rain showers and bath tubs. All have views either of the village of Woods Hole, or over the harbor of Woods Hole. All have king beds, luxury linens, ipod docking stations, cable TV with DVD players. air conditioning AND free wireless internet access. Two have private water view decks, and all share a large deck with a great view of the Martha’s Vineyard ferry coming and going.
We continued with numbers on some, and others received names, like the birthing of infants which is not unlike how making them felt at certain moments. So without further ado…here they are:
ROOM 10: private entryway, private bath, king room with peekaboo view of the Eel Pond
ROOM 11: private entryway, private bath, king corner room with views out over the village green
Nobska Room: Delux private bath with vintage bathtub and glass rain shower, king room with killer views of the harbor and Martha’s Vineyard ferries
Penzance Room: Private water view deck, large private bath with twin pedestal sinks, vintage bath and glass rain shower in a large king room with water views
Nonamessett Room: Private water view deck, large private bath with distinctive wall mount sink, vintage bath and glass rain shower in a large king room with water views
So there you have it, pictures and information about the five new rooms! Please use our secure online booking agent at www.woodsholeinn.com OR call 508-495-0248 to book these rooms. We look forward to welcoming you to Woods Hole.
The winter has been unseasonably warm, with Quahog diggers out on the mud flats at low tide in the middle of February. They scatter over the landscape, the afternoon light low on the horizon and it looks like a scene from the Breugel-era, all hand tools, muscle and community. This warm weather is great for long walks, photographing and construction projects. As you know from this blog, I am deeply embroiled in all three, so this continuing good weather is particularly appreciated.
Construction progress is good, and we are on schedule to re-open the main floor of the Woods Hole Inn in April and the new rooms in May. The new rooms are really shaping up — tile went into the bathrooms last week, and the floors were sanded over the weekend so that the vintage tubs can travel up from New Bedford mid-week and find their new homes on shiny wooden floors.
Doors went in this week, decks are finished, and carpenters are working on the trim around the door frames. The painters were there all last week, priming the walls. They will be back next week for a finish coat.
On the third floor, we have been delayed by the insulation sub-contractor, who is supposed to blow this open-cell foam around the edges of the building sealing everything up like a styrofoam cup. I guess he is busy which is great for him, not so great for us. Fingers crossed on this one.
Here are some progress photos:
Doors ready for installation…
So as I take my walks in this unseasonably warm winter, I am gratified by the pace of hard work happening at the Inn. Next winter, these rooms will be full of people taking winter walks and enjoying these incredible sunsets:
The winds blew so hard on Friday that I had to lean into the railing of the Woods Hole drawbridge as I took this photograph looking out towards Martha’s Vineyard. By the weekend, the bitter Canadian winter had settled over our little village and I worried about pipes freezing on the construction site, not to mention my cheeks as I took my afternoon walks.
But that did not slow the pace of renovations at the Woods Hole Inn. Oh no, we have our eye on the proverbial prize as reservations are rolling in for summer and beyond (book now if you want to be sure and get in summer 2012) .
The place is swarming on the inside with people. One of the things you learn quickly as you renovate an old property is that the stuff required to make it “new” again is pretty high tech, read expensive. I walk around the site and I see dollar signs: ruby-red foam insulation, diamond-encrusted lighting and platinum sprinkler pipes. Even the pipe fittings glitter in the sun like precious jewels.
One notable change is that in past winters when the wind howled (over 50 MPH this weekend I heard), the old Woods Hole Inn groaned and creaked, shuddering with the big blasts and swaying like a salsa dancer in the smaller gusts.
But up on the top floor on Friday, I was struck by the stillness of new windows, and the hush of firm framing. All those new connections — the spider web of wood and joinery which will be hidden by plaster — makes the building sturdier. As sad as I was to see the old lathe walls in dumpsters, this new development reminds me that a renovation of this magnitude will help the building survive another 130 years, well beyond my lifetime.
Ruby red insulation…
low-voltage, recessed lighting …
sprinkler pipe coated with platinum ….
and all the trimmings for sprinkler installation…
The parts that people can actually see look good too, all closed up from the winter winds with nothing needed but a coat of paint:
Which leaves me with this parting thought: You get what you pay for.
Work continues at the Inn at a breakneck pace, as both my contractor and I are eager to get the place sealed up before the real cold socks in. The Marvin custom windows take longer than you might think — now they are saying early December. Ergh. But everything else seems to be going well, knock wood. The weather has obliged, it is still a balmy 50 degrees in the daytime here. Days are getting shorter and work starts early and finishes at dusk.
The views from the upper floors continue to astound me. Last week the floors were still open allowing a two story view of the place:
Then in an instant (it seemed) down went the third floor, plus new stairs were installed. I wasn’t keen on balancing the rafters like the boys, but now I can walk up there. The structural engineer came by and liked the solid feeling that comes from all this re-enforcement. “Stiff” he called it, while bouncing a bit on the new plywood. I guess that’s good.
Today was a bit of a shocker as I arrived mid-morning to the roof open to the sky. The front dormers had shed roofs added incorrectly decades ago. No wonder the windows eventually blew out — the structure was totally compromised by hacking the roof rafters. It had to be completely rebuilt to come up to code. I guess the good news is that despite the expense, this part of the building will be like new. OK, not just like new. Actually ALL new.
It was a bit glower-y and at one point it started to sprinkle, but thankfully the weather report was accurate and there was no real rain. By late in the afternoon, thanks to a hard-working framing crew, the roof was starting to come back together. I love the way these guys work in concert, moving around and cooperating with so much grace. I guess they study the architectural drawings the night before so that there is no time wasted on site. They have a plan. Best of all, they seem to always be smiling. There is a joy in the work, singing and laughing. I can feel it in the finished product.
And while our crew scurried around on our little ant-hill, the ferries came and went carrying people to the Vineyard, many of whom didn’t notice that say, the roof is gone from that building over there. Across the street at the coffee shop, they were serving lattes to customers who heard a bang but had no idea that a room up there was totally exposed to the harbor. In the laboratories of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (aka “WHOI”) right next door, same thing. Even my husband, back at his desk, totally unaware. We are all in our own little worlds… Micro-climates… Fishbowls…
This blog is about me sharing my small fishbowl with you:) Happy Thanksgiving! May your weekend be filled with the joy of a new roof successfully installed on a New England fall day.
What does “vintage” mean to you? And how do you renovate an old building without losing it’s soul?
The devil is in the details.
My goal in this renovation of the Woods Hole Inn is to dance on the fine line of “new-ish” — by which I mean modern, comfortable, functioning — without losing the soul. As they tear out the horsehair plaster, am I robbing the building of something precious and irreplaceable? Modernity (i.e. new bathrooms, electrical outlets that work without burning the place down and other small details like that) can not be achieved without some demolition. But how much is enough? And will next year’s guests appreciate it?
Honoring the small design details is important to me; check out this bulls eye door trim which I am fighting to keep upstairs. Even an exact copy of this will never look the same as this original with it’s 20 coats of paint, each one a badge of honor in a long and useful life.
Or how about this incredible floor in the front living room of the Inn. People come into the inn, regularly, and ask me how I got this “effect” …Ummm, let’s see. Start with original growth hardwood, cut up on the hill right here and planed in a sawmill. Paint it four or five times over the course of a century, walk on it a lot preferably with muddy quahog boots. When you celebrate it’s 100th birthday, ask someone to sand it down but (this part is very important!) fire him about half way through the job. Then, wait another 25 years, put one layer of polyurethane down, pour yourself a gin and tonic and enjoy.
These are the “vintage” parts of the inn that people come and admire. But not everything that I fight to save strikes a chord with guests. Let me share a brief example with you.
I am a fan of old mirrors like the one in Room One (see below). I very deliberately renovated around this, admiring the flowering mercury glass effect that is working it’s way up from the bottom. For me, it is like a tangible reminder of many hot, sticky summer days where you throw yourself in the salt water for relief then come home for a nice cool shower before a dock-side dinner of ice-cold oysters, lobster claw drenched in salty butter, hot summer corn and hand-churned vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. This look only comes with years of exposure to salty ocean air. It feels earned, like a stylish survivor. When I look at myself in this aging mirror, I feel a bit like Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasons, like I have a period costume on and my day will surely be filled with love letters.
But some guests disagree. One recently wrote a review on TripAdvisor specifically calling this detail out as something that she did NOT value. She is not the first! Others have mentioned to me that they specifically did not like this feeling of age on this particular mirror. And when I look at it in that light I think, what am I crazy! Rip it out! Who cares about my own likes and dislikes if it keeps guests happy.
And it doesn’t stop there. The judgement calls, they come up every day. Should we leave the old brick fireplace exposed or cover it up? Can the wide-board floors be repaired, new wood inserted where the walls once were so that you will see the old layout, the bones of the building preserved? Or will that look like we simply cut corners? If the window trim can be saved, should it be at the expense of less insulation in the walls? What is more “green” – saving the trim or making sure the building is more heat efficient? Wow! These are hard questions!!
There is a fine line between vintage and just old. I was grappling with this today as I walked home and I passed these two guys outside the Marine Biological Labs (“MBL”) scrubbing rust out of 1970’s era radiators. Another fellow stepped outside just as I walked by and said with disdain, “They gave it away.” And one of the seated guys said incredulously, “Gave it away! Why would anyone do that?” I don’t even know what “it” is, but I feel their pain.
Woods Hole is a thrifty, Yankee place where scrubbing out rusty radiators is preferable to buying new, where lathe is left in walls and mirrors with water-damage are cherished, where even in cutting edge scientific institutions it is not abnormal to see two guys huddled in the lea of a November north wind cursing the fool who didn’t see the value in an old piece of metal.
I strive to bring this spirit to the restoration of the Inn without losing the modern vibe. The push pull of old vs new, the constant barrage of questions about what to keep and what to toss, the thrill of the new space and the sorrow as they cart off the old is at the core of why I love my job. I just don’t want to hear “Why would anyone do that?” come April.
So….What do YOU think I should do about the mirror in Room One?
Week three of construction started today. Our crew is still demolishing the interiors, literally peeling back the onion-like layers of time to reveal the bones of the house. Our structural engineer Mark comes every so often to make sure the place is still standing. Today he told me that the wood was in excellent condition, first cut hardwood like you can no longer buy. Who ever built this did it the right way, he told me. Seems a bit unseemly, but I will admit that I beamed with pride. Like the mother of a newborn, projects feel like babies and no matter how ugly they may look, we love them.
I like to come stand in the barn-like space, gaping up two stories, ceiling and floor boards stripped away. It looks like a SoHo loft, or the Parisian atelier of a famous designer. Can’t we keep it just like this? I think. And then I remember that there are not too many fashion designers looking for rental space in Woods Hole. OK, I will stick with the plan and transform it into the weekend getaway FOR fashion designers… Yes, yes, that is it.
The guys arrive at 7 am and they work with crowbars, sledgehammers, saws. Masks are a must as the plaster dust swirls in the ocean breeze from open windows and wheelbarrows of debris head toward a revolving dumpster. There is a majesty to the work, a pace respected to the minute. Breaks are observed, meals shared, and “Lady on deck” shouted when I come close. I secretly wonder what they are saying when I am not there, although they may not be able to hear each other much over the blasting radio and the thud of metal on horsehair plaster. Underneath is the lathe, thin boards that were used before drywall to adhere the plaster to. They are so beautiful, my heart aches as they are carted away.
Being in there now — views of the ocean everywhere you peek — feels like flying inside the bones of a huge feather-less bird. There is a lightness — an airy feeling with the windows open, the roof space soaring two stories above you — that creates the sensation of flying. Maybe it’s just me, as the project flies along, feeling suspended in time, searching for my place in the process.
I pace the dusty boards — this will be the bedroom, here is where the new window goes, oh you can see the ocean from here! — scheming and referencing the floorplans when I get confused. I am desperate to make sure that when the dust settles, some of the majesty of the building itself, it’s strong bones and lithe walls, will still be evident. Check back in to see future progress!