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Project DetailS
Acton, Maine

Great East Lake Camp

Great East Lake CampGreat East Lake Camp

Project Location: Acton, Maine

At over 1,800-acres in size; Great East Lake is the largest, and furthest upstream lake, of the Salmon Falls River headwaters. With shorefront in both Maine and New Hampshire, the lake is currently classified as a “high-quality” water body in each state. Eastward the lake narrows to three small basins that eventually shed into the Piscataqua River, the Great Bay estuary, and then out to the Gulf of Maine. It is an abundant and serene natural resource that supports life for many northern New England wildlife species, including the beloved Rainbow Trout, and Common Loon.

The pristine shores of Great East Lake, once frequented by Teddy Roosevelt, are dotted with century old seasonal camps and homes. Working with our client, we were tasked with designing improvements to an existing, suburban-ly developed, home and property that were out of place within the lakefront context. The project’s greatest success lies in the resulting transformation; away from nowhere suburbia, and toward a more classic Maine camp aesthetic.

In collaboration with Richardson & Associates Landscape Architects, our site-specific design solution solved the client’s programmatic goals while also creating an increased indoor/outdoor relationship that they can enjoy year-round.

Within the confines of current Maine Shoreland Zoning standards, the home was expanded to the North and East to provide for a wrap-around porch, a much needed mudroom, and an expanded kitchen with neighboring walk-in pantry. This addition allowed for some re-organization of the interior to accommodate a first floor master bedroom and adjacent bath. The resulting, L‑shaped, primary living space fronts the lake through a rebuilt sun-porch. Entirely re-configured, with floor-to-ceiling windows, the re-built porch offers dramatically better views and abundant natural light to the interior.

Working within the existing footprint, the second floor was adjusted to accommodate a built-in sleeping berth, a renovated bathroom, and updated bedrooms. Windows were added and existing openings were grouped to afford increased ventilation and enhanced views of the lake and agrarian fields beyond.

The overall form and scale of the original home remains. However, some careful editing of faux roof edges and the use of native materials allow it to take on a regionally appropriate character. The one-story addition, with protected entry porch, offers a welcoming face to arriving guests.

Windows, insulation, and mechanicals were all modernized with durable and high-performance systems that provide comfortable living during the winter ski season. Through the hard work of the entire team the camp now meets near passive-house level energy efficiency standards.

The home sits within a newly considered landscape that better relates to the indigenous lakeshore palette. While a deciduous understory frames the architecture, low-growing native sods of blueberry and huckleberry nest the building into the site and evoke a sense of timelessness. Lake-sensitive storm-water management strategies were used and celebrated with ferns, moss-laden boulder catchments, and riparian shrubs.

In 2016, the project was recognized by the Maine Lakes Society and received a prestigious LakeSmart Award. In the words of their director, “… the program recognizes only outstanding lake stewards”.

The resulting design breathes new life into an outdoor oriented retreat for a fun and active Massachusetts family.

Project Completion Date: 2015


Jonathan Reece


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