A Remarkable Renovation: 43 Church Street in Westborough

3 Mar

Last summer when we were visiting my parents in Westborough, Massachusetts–the town I grew up in (remember I told you about it here and here?)–I drove past this stunning house on Church Street and it stopped me in my tracks. I just couldn’t believe that I had never noticed it before. Well, that’s because it didn’t look like this when I lived there. 43church 225

Back when I lived in Westborough,  it looked more like this.

43 church as it was

Lucky for me, the stunning house had a sign out front that said 43churchst.com. So, I checked it out and found the story of how Michael Fitzpatrick (a very talented wood furniture maker) and his wife, Dr. Jean Keamy, had purchased the house with the intention of renovating it and bringing it back to its former glory. I mean, look how gorgeous it was back in 1880.

original house

Their website is great and it shows lots of process shots but I was dying to see it inside, so I emailed Michael and asked if he would let me–and the Sue at Home readers–take a peek. He could not have been more gracious and welcoming so the next time I was in Westborough, Pablo and I went to take a look. (Yes, it’s taken me over 6 months to write this post. What can I say, it’s got a LOT of pictures.)

They brought the exterior of the house back to its original style except for the addition of this porte cochere on the side. No need to Google it. “Porte Cochere” translates to Carriage Porch.  (It’s like a fancy carport.)

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Here’s the back of the house.

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As they were building the porte cochere, some birds decided to make it their home so they continued building around the birds and now they’ve got permanent houseguests. See that little square in the picture below? That’s how their little feathered friends get in and out.

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 Michael restored and built reproductions of all the exterior millwork himself. (See more about that in this video.)

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I especially loved the pale blue painted porch ceiling. Let’s go inside, shall we?

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While they respected the aesthetic of the original structure on the exterior, they opted for a more modern interior with an open floor plan and a focus on function. I loved all of the clean simple furnishings.

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The floating stairs–that connect all four levels–let in tons of light.

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This little sitting area connects the living room and kitchen.

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I love how the color of the mid-century chairs is picked up in the kitchen backsplash.

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The center column in the house, which has a small bathroom and an elevator on this floor, also includes this built-in bookshelf. (Note the wood carved grate. Yup – that was made by Michael, too. It’s the details like this that make this house like no other I’ve ever seen.)

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Here’s Michael showing us the diary of Mary White Forbes that they found in the house.  The entries are dated 1850-1857.

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The kitchen is a story itself. Every single shelf and drawer is completely thought out and made for full function.

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The wood veneer is Black Palm from Ecuador, a renewable resource. (Now’s a good time to mention that 80% of the materials that were taken out of the house at the time of demo were recycled to other homes around New England.)

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Adjacent to the kitchen is the dining room. That low table on the right is one of Michael’s designs made for a show at the Fuller Craft museum.

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Check out these small “floorlights” that connect to the basement below. (Remember those. You’ll see them again.)

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These amazing doors (from Thailand, circa 1780) were bought at auction. They lead to…

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…a small music room in the back of the house.

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Now, let’s go downstairs.  This spooky little pod is the entrance to the future darkroom.

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Of course, we had to go inside.  Here’s Pablo on the other side.

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They’re also working on a screening room that hasn’t been furnished yet. And the little space below is the future wine cellar. See those little skylights? Those are the floor panels we saw in the dining room above.

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I can’t get enough of these beautiful steps. Let’s go upstairs again.

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Here’s another one of those Michael Fitzpatrick grates.

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The entrance to the master bedroom.

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Here’s the TV in the bedroom. On the right is a jewelry box that Michael made for his wife as a wedding gift. This house is a fully wired “smart” house. I think the coolest feature is the keypad near the bed where they can put the house to sleep with the touch of a button: the garage locks, all the lights turn off and the thermostat sets to a predetermined temperature. Need the use the bathroom in the middle of the night? No problem. Motion detectors track their way back to bed and turn off the lights as they’re no longer needed.

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Of course the tub is surrounded by wood.

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Now, let’s go all the way to the top floor.  There’s a large TV room that has a balcony.

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The teak woodwork in the upstairs bathroom was my favorite.

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Out on the balcony, we get a better look at those shingles and the stunning millwork.

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And before we leave, we need to take a look at Michael’s wood shop in the back garage. There are lots of plans to renovate this space next.

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One of Michael’s beautiful veneer topped tables.

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Some more tables with mid-century hairpin legs.

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I’d like to thank Michael for the tour of his beautiful home.

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There are so many other rooms that I didn’t show here because they’re yet to be finished so stay tuned to 43churchst.com for Michael’s updates.

XO

Sue at Home

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9 Responses to “A Remarkable Renovation: 43 Church Street in Westborough”

  1. susan March 4, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    so glad you made this! I REALLY wanted to see the inside of this house! Can I please move in?!! gorgeous! and I”m envious! I think a guy I had a crush on in High School used to live there.

  2. Karen March 21, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Luv it
    What are the roof shingles

  3. Maria March 21, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    The outside is beautiful…they completely ruined the inside. I don’t understand folks who want a modern house and instead of buying one, go destroy a historical one. It’s simply a travesty.

  4. mossum March 21, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Lovely craftsmanship by these people, but entirely the wrong application. I’m with Maria on this one. If you want a modern, buy a modern. This house had so much potential and the renovations should have honored it by keeping to the period. I can only hope it will be rescued one day by someone who can afford to gut the inside and put it back the way it should be.

  5. Connie Taylor Davis March 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Both outside and inside are beautiful- BUT not together! Maria said it best, “It’s simply a travesty.”

  6. Yo March 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    What’s that box on the very top of the house?

    • Maria March 25, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

      That’s a cupola, they are used sometimes as a lookout or often as a place for hot air to rise/vent out windows in pre-airconditioning days. You open the lower windows to catch a breeze and the hot air is pushed out the top.

  7. Jayne April 2, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    I agree with Maria that what they did to the inside of the house is a travesty. There seems to be nothing left of the original interior details. It’s sickening. The exterior of the house is lovely and authentic to the original, which made the interior all the more shocking.

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