Samuel Durfee House Featured in Newport Daily News

Thank you to the Newport Daily News for this great article on the Samuel Durfee House barn!

Barn project earns Doris Duke preservation award

By Sean Flynn

Staff writer

NEWPORT - When Heather and Michael de Pinho needed a full-sized family home, they made what may seem a daring decision and turned their attention to the 17th century barn in their backyard.

“We preserved as much as possible of the original structure and made it a home,” Michael de Pinho said. “But we kept it a barn.”

“For everything we wanted to do, the word rustic was used,” Heather de Pinho said.

The Newport Restoration Foundation and the city of Newport have chosen the de Pinhos, who own the Samuel Durfee House Inn at 352 Spring St., as winners of a 2016 Doris Duke Historic Preservation Award for saving the barn and creating a beautiful living space within it.

The open Great Room that makes up the ground floor of the former barn now includes a breathtaking kitchen, a dining area and a living room with impressive windows looking out the east wall, which had to be rebuilt. Three bedroomsare on the second floor.

The award recognizes the de Pinhos “for saving one of the most vulnerable kinds of historic buildings.”

Peter M. Scotti of Providence, azoning and real estate expert, has said the Durfee House, a two-story Federalstyle home, was constructed around 1803. The Isaiah Crooker Barn was moved to the parcel sometime between1870 and 1880, according to maps from the period, he said.

Rick Greenwood, deputy director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, submitted a written report in support of the dePinhos' renovation plan in 2014.

“The Crooker Barn is historically significant as an important surviving example of the urban barn, a once common but now rare building type,” he wrote. “Built to accommodate wagons and other vehicles and other types of storage, these barns were an integral part of urban Newport, usually occupying sites on the interior of the block.”

Greenwood wrote the barn “contributes to the significance of the Southern Thames Street National Register Historic District and is worthy of preservation.”

Doris Duke Historic Preservation Award winners this year also include the New York Yacht Club for the restoration of its Harbour Court clubhouse to its “original splendor and reworking a kitchen addition to better match the Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson design of the historic building,” according to the award announcement. Architect Martha L. Werenfels of Providence oversaw the project.

Harbour Court, which overlooks Newport Harbor in the area of Halidon and Wellington avenues, was built in 190406 for Natalie Bayard Dresser, the widow of John Nicholas Brown I. The waterfront estate remained in the Brown family until 1988, when it was commissioned as the yacht club's Newport clubhouse.

The third winner of a Doris Duke award this year is the state of Rhode Island for its restoration of Eisenhower House within Fort Adams State Park. Begun in 2013, the restoration brought back to life “one of Newport's great Victorian gems,” the award announcement said. Special care was taken “to conserve original features such as wooden sash windows and the signature grand staircase of architect George Champlin Mason.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower used the house, built around 1873, as his “summer White House” in 1958 and again in 1960.

Of the three award-winning projects, the greatest transformation was the de Pinhos' barn, which had a dirt floor and was being used mainly to store cars, a boat and tools. Michael de Pinho had dug up horseshoes from the barn's dirt floor.

“The barn was in desperateneed of repair,” Heather de Pinho said. “We either had to tear it down or find a new use for it. We decided to re-purpose it as a home.”

The reconstruction and redesign project was overseen by architects Mohamad Farzan and Dorienne West Farzan of NewPort Architecture.

“They were great,” Heather de Pinho said. “They are very interested in saving old, historic structures. They helped redo the inn after we purchased it.”

When the de Pinhos purchased the Spring Street property in 1999, they created a fiveroom, bed-and-breakfast in the Durfee House, but they left little room for living quarters for themselves. That was fine until their son, born in 2001, started getting older and they felt they had outgrown their space.

As part of the new project, the Farzans designed a 150-square-foot addition connecting the house and the barn, allowing it to be converted into a home for the de Pinho family with easy access to the inn.

Michael de Pinho is originally from Baltimore, but spent summers in Newport when he was growing up. Heather de Pinho is originally from Washington, D.C.; the two met when they were students at what is now Towson University in Baltimore.

“He always wanted to live here,” Heather said.

The de Pinhos are proud of being chosen a recipient of a Doris Duke award.

“Our project beautified the neighborhood,” Heather said.