Repeat History

To save a modern gem on the cape, an architect builds a kindred addition.

compromised its appearance), Hammer made a case for replacing the adjacent crumbling barracks with an all-season, 1,300-square-foot two-story addition. A large door between the old and new spaces would allow the Grossmans to close off the uninsulated Hebbeln wing from the rest of the house once it got too cold to heat efficiently. They could then live exclusively in the addition, which includes a remodeled kitchen, a master suite, and a study and large deck upstairs.

Since the Hebbeln wing was “a jewel in that setting,” says Hammer, it required very little updating. He kept the L-shaped built-in couch and updated the windows with custom-designed, top-hinged transoms.

The only Hebbeln design feature that the Grossmans and Hammer could replace without remorse was the concrete fireplace in the living room. Cemented to the floor, the bulky, cylindrical hearth was something of an eyesore. (While removing it, they discovered that the interior had almost completely corroded.) In its place, Hammer installed an elegant steel unit that hangs from the ceiling and pivots. Called the Fire Orb, it comes in a black powder finish and floats above a new base made of concrete and beach pebble. “It’s all you need to heat the entire space through November,” says Rick, referring to the Hebbeln wing (the addition has its own radiant heating system). Being able to heat that area deep into the fall, and close it off once the temperature dips, gives him and Ellen everything they need to weather many a Cape Cod winter.

The Truro house has become the Grossman’s year-round getaway, a place where they hope to spend many more years together with friends and family. “We plan to be carried out boots-first from that house,” says Rick. “It’s what we want to pass on to our kids.”

Hammer Architects, Cambridge
Augustus Construction, Truro