MYOPIA HUNT CLUB

South Hamilton, MA

In 1882 the Myopia Hunt Club established themselves in the 1772 Dodge house, which they later expanded many times and in all directions. The primary previous additions were the dining and banquet rooms at the west, a north service wing, and porches that wrap the east and south elevations and connect to the adjacent Annex (c.1900), which houses the golf locker rooms. The extensive renovations and additions by Acanthus addressed several outstanding issues and long-term goals.

The first was to create internal circulation for members and guests to move between the east entrances and the west banquet rooms without passing through the Men’s Dining Room and Ladies’ Dining Room. To achieve this Acanthus carved a reception room (original Dodge living room) and a sequence of short halls out of existing service areas. Respecting the delightfully ad hoc character of the clubhouse, the design intent was to create a set of distinct spaces that that members would feel had been created during different prior renovations (for which there was some actual historical precedence). Behind the scenes, these changes also involved a substantial reconfiguration of the kitchen, the addition of restrooms, and the installation of a passenger lift to provide accessibility to second-floor guest suites.

A second goal was to revive the Ladies’ Dining Room, which had grown into a long, low, and insular space having limited association with other rooms or the exterior. Acanthus raised the ceilings, designed new exterior walls with large grouped windows and French doors, divided the room with a paneled cased opening, designed new standing and running rim, added new heart-pine flooring, and selected burnished brass colonial lighting.

Perhaps the most significant change to the Ladies’ Dining Room was the addition of a deep porch that wraps the room and is filled with tables and chairs overlooking the 18th green and a beautiful lawn terrace. This new porch was designed as an extension of the narrow circulation porches that tie together the Main Clubhouse and the Annex. Acanthus raised the porch floor to be fully accessible from the interior but left the new porch columns resting on a lower step to match the existing porch columns further east.

At the far west, overlooking the 18th green and fairway, the Winthrop Terrace had evolved over many years from a porch, to a porch with open terrace, to a roofed terrace, and finally to a roofed and screened terrace with removable plexiglass to extend seasonal use. As shown on the existing photos, the outcome was rather unattractive and provisional, and there was even consideration given to demolition and rebuilding of just the original porch. Acanthus and the club, however, determined that the Winthrop Terrace could also be a valuable extension of the ballroom and decided therefore to fully enclose the space, add a bar, and use it for casual dining, which previously was unavailable in the main clubhouse.

The Acanthus design preserves the porch character of the Winthrop Terrace. The exterior wall is inset to leave the existing columns free-standing. The spaces between the columns are infilled with pairs of large double-hung windows set over recessed panels. On the interior the walls are wood, pilasters support the beams, the new raised floor repeats the original Pennsylvania Bluestone, and the new bar is set within the original porch columns. Acanthus solved the acoustic reflectance of these hard surfaces by placing insulation above a fabric ceiling that was stretched to achieve a plaster texture and divided into panels with wood beams and boards.

The final public space in the Acanthus design is the new ballroom, which replaces an existing 1950’s ballroom that was small and aesthetically undistinguished. The mass of the new ballroom is firmly anchored into the large gambrel roof, which Acanthus extended over the ballroom. At the opposite end is a 3-bay temple front that stands proud of and terminates the Winthrop Terrace colonnade. The exterior wall is again set behind the columns, and the fenestration wraps the northwest corner to provide additional views of the Miles River and the polo fields beyond. The new ballroom, which has a high paneled wainscot and Tuscan entablature, accommodates 180 diners (120 with dance floor and band). The banquet capacity increases by 100 when the French doors separating the ballroom and Winthrop Terrace are slid into a concealed closet.

The Acanthus renovations also accomplished several functional service goals. The service yard was reconfigured and enclosed with a lattice and board fence. Receiving and storage were significantly expanded with the addition of a full basement under the ballroom and a new freight lift. The kitchen renovations also included new pantry areas to improve service to the ballroom and Winthrop Terrace, and office space lost to the new reception room was replaced by a discrete infill of the corner between the original Dodge house and kitchen wing.

Credits: Myopia Hunt Club Building Committee Interior Design: Niemitz Design Group, Boston. MA Structural Engineering: L J O Engineering, Essex, MA General Contractor: Windover Construction, Beverly, MA Photographer: Shelly Harrison Photography, Chestnut Hill, MA Photographer: Eric Roth Photography, Topsfield, MA

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