Owners John and Jeanette Freeman live on the West Coast during most of the year. They found this idyllic spot while searching for a summer home in Vermont. John knew the area because he grew up fifteen miles awav in Norwich, where Porter is based. When they bought the place in 2002, people had been summering there for almost a century. Guests knew it as the Betty-An tie Inn.
The new home sits on the old footprint but has been enlarged by 20 percent Green is a traditional color for camp architecture.
In rhe 1930s, a bed could be had for $1.25 per nighr, including breakfast and lunch. With views of Lake Fairlees boating scene, the inn was a popular destination. The Freemans loved the old architectural details. Yet for every charming feature, there seemed to be an equally vexing complication. “It was built as a seasonal camp,” explains architect Pi Smith, principal at Smith & Vansant Architects (SVA). “So there was no foundation. Instead of a slab, the framing of the house w’as built onto wooden piers and posts. ’The exterior was just clapboards on a wooden frame.” Many of the floors were severely warped, and the place had never been winterized.
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Still, the couple wrestled with plans to renovate. “Having grown up in a house built in 1812 myself, we very much wanted to preserve the original cottage,” John recalls.
Then, Mother Nature made their decision easier. A storm in August of 2007 toppled three big pines, one of which broke right over the house, The rool and the ridge beam were badly damaged.
“Were biased toward being preservationists,” says Porter. “But the house had significant structural problems.” A renovation would be cost prohibitive. In addition to its structural issues, die house had ancient electrical wiring and old plumbing.
After assessing the situation with Smith & Vansant and the Porters, w’e realized that it was not possible to fulfill our family’s need with a simple renovation,” says John. “So we decided to focus on preserving the spirit of the old house while giving ourselves the needed improvements.”