A few summers ago I was, out of curiosity, Googling “antique post & beam structures” when I happened upon a listing for an 18th-century room with summer beam for sale by Olde New England Building & Salvage. It was a nice size. I showed the pictures to my wife, JoAnn, and she said, “Oh, we could put a room off our Tavern Room!” I’d just retired, however, and figured the last thing we needed was another project and another room. Several glasses of wine later, we had a plan for how we might connect an addition to the Tavern Room with a mudroom to create the L-plan house we’ve always liked.
We made several trips to Connecticut to see the materials, measuring and measuring again. The salvage owner had the fireplace that went with the post-and-beam room, but he told us he was about to remove a wonderful granite fireplace with a beehive oven from a ca. 1740 Saltbox slated for demolition in Groton. We loved his pictures of it.
I drew up plans to support the footprint of the old structure and the granite hearth, and designed the mudroom connector. My plan was designed to support and wrap the antique structure using current materials and building codes. Our building inspector was quite taken aback by the project, but he loved the idea and approved the plans. JoAnn and I searched for things to make the addition look like an antique outside and inside: handmade bricks, copper gutters, banister-back chairs.
We needed a mason who could build an old-fashioned chimney and beehive oven, as we’d bought only the 13 granite stones that made up the hearth. At the historic-home show in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, we met deGruchy Masonry and Lime Works, who specialize in historic masonry restoration and compatible products. Serendipity!
Real granite was used for the foundation facing, and antique granite steps were used for the exterior entrance to the mudroom. Outside the room is a brick-paved patio. We embedded antique millstones into it. Construction of the brick chimney and beehive oven took over seven weeks; the mason, John, drove up from Pennsylvania every Monday, stayed at a motel during the week, and drove home on Fridays.
We were calling our new antique room the Summer Kitchen at first, because of the beehive oven. But, having added a cage bar, we changed the name to Tap Room. The interior of the room was inspired by the old barroom at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts.
We had always wanted to own an 18th-century house, and instead built a reproduction Cape. This addition, which incorporates antique materials, brought us closer to our dream. We like to sit in the Tap Room lost in thought about the folks in Groton who centuries ago sat before these stones.
Morris County, New Jersey
House 1976 | Addition 2015
The recent addition to this reproduction house comprises a ca. 1780s post-and-beam structure from New Hampshire and a 1740s granite hearth from Mystic, Connecticut. The space is designed as a Tap Room, with a cage bar, large fireplace, and seating areas. Design for the house was adapted by the owner, an electrician, from a historic-house plan he found in a magazine.