Meet The Architect

rē·ju´·vē·nāte

to bring back to youthful strength, appearance, etc., to make more vigorous, dynamic, and effective.

Meet The Architect

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While growing up in Rhode Island, John Grosvenor couldn’t help but adore Newport. His parents, noted artist Richard Grosvenor and art appreciator Margot Grosvenor instilled within him a deep reverence for Newport’s coastal scenery and storied built environment. Through the years, John and his three siblings continually celebrate their unique family bond and endeavor to capture Newport’s beauty during countless studio and plein air sessions with their father.

Cushing residence rendering

Not surprisingly, John parlayed his passion for Newport’s rich architectural heritage into a profession where historic preservation and adaptive reuse are the hallmarks. In the 1980s, John co-founded NCA with his Miami University classmates J. Michael Abbott and Glenn Gardiner. In 2011 NCA merged with Bianco, Giolitto and Weston Architects. More than 100 award-winning projects including museums, schools, hotels, theaters, micro-lofts, and private residences distinguish their staggering portfolio.

John enjoys finding dynamic new uses for historic landmarks and his current projects include a world-class art museum overlooking Newport’s Cliff Walk and an antique auto museum on Bellevue Avenue. When John presented “Stable Design: Richard Morris Hunt’s Country Buildings in Newport, RI” at the annual Architecture Symposium at the Newport Casino last spring, the audience’s gasps were entirely audible while gazing at the dramatic before and after images of his projects.

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Wrentham Carriage House, Newport, RI

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Le Chalet, Newport, RI

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Rejuvenating the Sherman House represents a new chapter in John’s career. He explains, “I’ve had the opportunity to rehabilitate many Victorian, Queen Anne, Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, Gothic Revivals, and Shingle Style homes. The Sherman House represents my first Federal project.

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The first time I saw the Sherman house, I was enchanted by elements that typified the period such as the five bay symmetrical facade, six-over-six double hung windows, wood paneled door, pediment and paired brick chimneys. The interior features four square rooms, central hallway, straight staircase, wide planked floorboards, wide planked sheathing and post and beam framing that form a rigidly rectangular house. The six wood burning fireplaces serve as reminders of the patriots who cooked and warmed their house long before there was central heat and running water.

staircase

west parlor

It was all there – the 200-year-old Federal house of Newport in all its original splendor. The house is a spectacular specimen of early American architecture that miraculously had not been tampered with too much through good times and bad. Perhaps a lack of funds constrained families to forgo changes that inevitably happen with technological or lifestyle changes? Somehow the Sherman House remained pure despite a boxy addition that had grown off the back of the house in the mid 19th century.

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Our project represents the best of both worlds. The original structure will undergo an authentic restoration and the awkward addition will be replaced with a new structure that stylistically transitions into large volume spaces for the kitchen and dining room.  Much like beginning a painting, the first line only has meaning when juxtaposed and considered against the second and the third. It is the Gestalt of all the lines together that have the power of conviction over the single thought.”

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Concept sketches by John Grosvenor

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The Design Team

We have enlisted Michael DeFontes to orchestrate the rejuvenation project. Michael is a true craftsman and words cannot begin to describe his exquisite attention to detail.  John and Michael’s most recent collaboration at the Cliffside Inn earned the 2014 Doris Duke Award for Historic Preservation.  Pictures are worth a thousand words…..

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Michael, Kyle and Matt make up the rejuvenation dream team!

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Cliffside Inn, Newport, RI

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Coming Next…..Time Well Spent

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