Marblehead has been an irresistible draw for its seaside charm for over two centuries. The jewel in the crown is the Old Town, the downtown district steeped in history, right down to the historic plaques affixed to many houses.
It’s no wonder some residents of the old town were concerned when they saw the three-story house from 1725 across the harbor disintegrate. After years of serving as converted apartments, the house had been gutted and was vacant. Some locals swore he could crash to the ground at any time. Sunlight filtered through large gaping holes in the roof; half of the structure rested on earth; it was rotting. The exterior was covered with aluminum cladding; the windows were inexpensive vinyl.
Kyle Donovan and her husband, Paul Donovan, fell in love with the ancient house, despite its condition. “There was no way to save what was here,” says Kyle Donovan. “We bought it knowing that we had to rebuild it. But it had to be a flawless rebuild that would follow the very strict rules set by the historic Marblehead Commission.
When the Donovans met Branden Scimone, the owner of S&S Construction in Marblehead, they were convinced that Scimone and his partner, Weverton Silva, would make their dream come true, rebuilding the house to the couple’s impeccable standards and the rigorous rules of the historical commission. . Walter Jacob, director of Walter Jacob Architecture at Marblehead, helped launch the project throughout the commission process; then the project was in the hands of the Donovans. Kyle Donovan, real estate agent at Gibson Sotheby’s in Boston, saw many homes, but this project was huge.
“Paul and I have done a lot of renovations, but this was our first experience building from scratch,” says Donovan. It was immediately clear that Scimone was focused on success: “He’s super organized and handled the subs in a phenomenal way. And S&S finished as planned.
The rebuilding of the 18th-century house was a perfect fit for Scimone, who worked in project management and construction, primarily in North Boston and Beacon Hill, before founding S&S Construction 10 years ago.
Today, the company offers a full range of premium design and construction services, supporting additions, renovations and new construction, often from initial sketches to final construction. Scimone and his team completed 37 impressive projects last year. “We pride ourselves on our craftsmanship and planning, our ability to finish on time,” says Scimone. “We are working very hard. “
The first phase of the Donovan project involved numerous visits to the Historical Commission, including hearings and public meetings. “Our biggest challenge was getting the approvals,” says Scimone. Then came a meticulous reconstruction.
When Scimone started, there was nothing historically significant about the house. The demolition only lasted a few hours.
The house was located “with a laser on the imprint of the original,” says Donovan. (They were allowed to add three skylights and a detached garage.) Every finish, every exterior door, all lights and hardware had to have commission approval.
In the spring of 2020, the Donovans and their 9 year old son moved into the house, fulfilling their desires for a home with historic features and modern conveniences. The house, perched on a height, is surrounded by a vast lawn, bordered in front of herbaria that the Donovans have planted, as well as several birches that they both love.
Donovan loves interior design and relished the chance to create the decor herself. “Since I have this obsession with design, I turn to black and white and neutrals,” she says. Occasional bursts of color illuminate the house, with a cozy and family spirit. “There is nothing in the house that is formal. My husband and my son are very active. A soccer ball could be thrown at any time. It had to be relaxed and welcoming.
The kitchen is a special room with a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere. An island topped with Danby marble and cabinetry from Venegas and Company in the South Boston neighborhood give the room major substance and style. Donovan loves the layout. ” It works ; your eye dances around the kitchen. A closer look reveals the sculptural hardware at Sun Valley Bronze, a foundry in Bellevue, Idaho.
The beautifully patterned wallpaper highlights the main entrance, upstairs nook, stairwell and powder rooms, rigorously hung by Tracy Karatza of Attention to Detail in Chester, New Hampshire.
Perhaps the most special place of all is the large porch. “This is the main reason why we continued with the project,” says Donovan. The porch became a quiet balm during the pandemic. “My girlfriends and I would sit, socially, on the porch with cocktails,” she recalls. “We love this house. We are so comfortable and so grateful.
For more information, visit ssconstructioncorp.com.