Sheepscot River, Maine

Sortwell Chandlery

Situated at the water’s edge, a chandlery is a building used to provision merchant vessels and sailing ships. On a coastal site rich with history, the 200-year-old Sortwell Chandlery has remained even longer than the house that accompanied it because its location and character have been treasured since its construction. Our client’s family has spent summers here for more than 70 years and has had a lifelong connection to this place and its historical significance. Over time they had converted the barn-like structure into an informal cottage surrounded by tall pines and stone piers. The summer tides rose and fell below the plank floor, and a ladder provided access to the upper level bunkroom.

In recent years, rising sea levels put the Chandlery at risk. Whitten Architects was charged with repositioning and elevating the 200-year-old structure to provide a new foundation that accommodates today's higher water surges, leaving the old extents of the foundation and maintaining the character of the original structure. To accommodate modern living, the program included a new kitchen, new bathrooms, insulation, a new stair, a new electrical system, and a wood stove with supplemental propane heat to extend the structure’s use into early spring and late fall. Because of proximity to the water's edge, a screened porch was carved out of the southeast corner, which maintains the structure’s original feel while meeting setback requirements.

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