Davis House Restoration

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Location: 3 Water Street, Woods Hole
Applicant: WCAI/WGBH Radio Station
Grant: $267,600
Year/Article: November 2010, A10

In 2010, WCAI/WGBH Radio Station received $267,600 in CPFunds to restore the historic Davis House at 3 Water Street in the Woods Hole Historic District. WCAI purchased the building from the Woods Hole School in 2007 for use as headquarters. WCAI, a public radio station in operation for ten years at the time, wanted to pursue its mission to educate and inform citizens through comprehensive and balanced local, national and international radio news and information programs unfettered by leaking roof, drafty windows and highly inefficient energy costs.

WCAI chose adaptive re-use of the building, which was an essential component of the historic landscape of Woods Hole, as opposed to new construction, to preserve the distinctive character of the village. The house is one of a larger corpus of mid-nineteenth century neo-classical houses located throughout the Village.  

At the intersection of Woods Hole Road, Water Street, and Crane Street, Davis House was built around 1840 as a story-and-a-half Greek Revival structure rising from a full-story granite foundation. The house was of traditional Cape Cod architecture, an expression of regional vernacular that reflected the economic and social development of the region through traditional materials and design. At the same time, it reflected the builder’s knowledge of national architectural fashions while maintaining the simplicity of earlier forms and drawing on local materials. Listed on Falmouth’s Cultural Resources Inventory, it is also located on a designated Falmouth Scenic Road. It is listed on the State Register of Historic Places as part of the Woods Hole Historic District.

WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR radio station affiliated with WGBH wanted to restore the house in compliance with standards 3, 6, and 9 of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. It planned to rehabilitate and restore the envelope using materials approved by the Falmouth Historic Districts Commission combined with energy efficient improvements to ensure longevity and sustainability of the landmark building. Restoration included replacing the asphalt-shingled roof with a red cedar roof as observed in archive photographs. Asbestos and rotted wood siding were removed and replaced with clapboard to replicate original design. Windows and doors were replaced in accordance with the Falmouth Historic District Review Guidelines. To return some of the building’s original character, a second-floor deck was constructed at the front of building where a similar deck had been. WCAI also reconstructed architectural details such as cornices, friezes, fascias, soffits, corner boards, window trim, the entablature over the reinstated doorway at the second floor deck, and the chimney corbelling. The building was made accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Architectural Access Board Rules and Regulations (CMR 521).

The work was completed in 2012 and Davis House stands proudly at the entry to Woods Hole Village as an example of excellent historical restoration.

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