Health and safety rules require new thinking by HDC

Thu, 10/01/2020 - 7:30pm

The only application for preliminary review by the Historic District Commission was submitted by architect Glen Fontecchio for a 20-foot by 24-foot addition to the service building of the Spring House Hotel. The Historic District Commission met via telecommunications on Monday, Sept. 28 to consider the application.

Island Enterprise Inc.

Plat 8, Lot 84-6

Fontecchio provided a synopsis of the proposed project, which will be “to address the laundry situation” at The Spring House. 

“We are proposing a modification to the service building that I designed in 2015 that serves both as housing for hotel employees and a service building for such as laundry. The laundry has turned into a nightmare [with Covid-19]… They are doing laundry past midnight every night. We are proposing a 20-foot by 24-foot footprint addition onto the service building, to address these new needs for laundry,” said Fontecchio.

Chair Bill Penn announced the board had received a letter from Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission Executive Director J. Paul Loether earlier in the day. The letter stated the organization’s support of the proposed addition:

“The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission is in receipt of proposed plans to expand the existing Staff Quarters Building (circa 2015) with an addition extending the building to the west. The drawings are dated August 2020 and prepared by Architect Glen Fontecchio.

“The Staff Quarters structure replaced a historic building of the approximate size and footprint with a new code-complaint building that matched the original building in form, materials and fenestration pattern. This building occupies a site to the south and west of the historic Spring House Hotel and is visible from the main drive approaching the hotel from Spring Street. A historic barn, circa 1870, is part of the early development of the site including supporting buildings and is presently visible beyond the Staff Building slightly to the west.

“The proposed addition will be two full stories in height with a gable roof intersecting the main gable of the Staff Building. The addition will project 20 feet to the west of the main structure and will fully block the view of the historic barn from the north. The addition will be clad in wood shingles with Azek trim. We understand that the justification for the addition was to build an expanded laundry facility for sanitizing related to Covid-19, and to increase the number of single dormitory rooms on the second floor.

“It is unfortunate that the new addition will block the view of the historic barn in its entirety from the northern approach to the hotel. However, we understand that the need for an updated laundry facility is pressing. Therefore, under the terms of the historic preservation easement, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission will not object to the proposed addition.”

Penn said he agreed with the Commission’s statement.

“I agree with the RI HPHC’s comments. This addition blocks out the historic barn, which has been there for years. A small price we have to pay, unintended consequences,” said Penn.

Fontecchio followed up on Penn’s comments, stating “I tried other locations and couldn’t make it work, partly because of clearance to other buildings.”

Penn made a motion to give preliminary approval to the application, with member Mark Vaillancourt seconding the motion, which was passed unanimously by the board.

Final approvals

The following applications were unanimously approved by the board: Carol Tuschick and Beth Simkins (Plat 5, Lot 14) off Ocean Avenue for a new entry on south elevation, replace all windows, remove front guardrail, and expand side entry porch; Charlie Dodge (Plat 7, Lot 80) off High Street for new dormers, replace windows in porch and add roof brackets, add shed roof over east facing ground floor entry door, replace ground floor door, and replace windows in second floor gable and bedrooms, add gable ornament on north elevation; and Pam and Stewart Glen (Plat 6, Lot 78) on Old Town Road to replace windows and design the porch roof on an existing dwelling.