HDC Endorses Connected Home at Tripp House

The Newport Historic District Commission voted 6-1 on May 18 to give design approval for a house to be built on the point and connected to the historic John Tripp House.

But several questions remain as to how the historic house will connect with a new house that will be twice its size.

William and Lisa Ruh’s petition, 88 Washington St., for conceptual approval for the restoration of the contributory structure and the construction of a new 4,380 square foot two-story single-family residence in the shadow of the Tripp House has been pending on the HDC registry for months.

Previously, this was a much larger proposal, which included moving the legendary Tripp House as part of the plan. The early 18th century house is one of only two stones known to exist in Newport, although it was not originally a Newport house, having been moved from Providence decades ago and rebuilt. Today, it is one of the emblematic houses of the point.

Pieter Roos, a historical expert brought in by the Ruhs, said House Tripp would be “proud of the new house.

“The first thing you will see on the street is the Tripp House, not the new house,” he said.

Lawyer Turner Scott, representing the objectors, argued for the ruin or change in historical significance of the site and its views of the water, something with which Nancy Stafford, a dissident HDC member, agreed.

“The view has acquired historical credibility. I think this is a new factor in the development of this project, ”said Rosemarie O’Brien, HDC member, who ultimately voted in favor.

Madeline Melchert, architect, said the initially proposed home was over 10,000 square feet and three stories tall. Lawyer Jay Lynch, representing the petitioner, said changes were made because previous plans “overshadowed the John Tripp house.”

The second approved proposal downsized the house and changed the styling, she added.

“The John Tripp House played an important role in the design of the new construction,” said Melchert. “The connector has been removed so that the John Tripp house is not touched. Homeowners can easily cross between the two.

Scott argued that the proposed new house is twice the size of the Tripp House, but that ultimately did not influence the HDC.

The main argument of HDC member Howard Elliott was to ensure that Tripp House was “left alone”.

But Stafford said: “I have no doubts that this is a historical view. This area has established itself as a historical sight and I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a house there, just not that big.

HDC member Donald Ross echoed Stafford’s sentiments. “The side facing the port is just not appropriate for this area, not consistent,” he said.

“This is greatly improved from the previous edition,” said Michael Ryan, HDC member. “The Tripp House is very good [preserved] water side. I think it gets there, but I’m concerned about the water side. Overall I’m happy with the direction this is taking. “

But Scott said that while size, scale, and volume are conceptually approved, “you can’t change that once they’re approved.”

Owner William Ruh said he had watched from the sidelines for many months, on multiple submissions. “We listened very carefully to our neighbors and approached their issues with sights and sights and not moving the Tripp House south,” he said. “The only thing I’ve heard is a misconception as a historical perspective. There really is no such thing. We bought a lot of it, like the other lots on the street.

“We think this house fits perfectly into the neighborhood and we can’t wait to finish it,” he said.

Stafford retorted, “Historic neighborhoods come with historic vistas, and there is precedent for them to be on this earth.”

Diana Sylvaria Szapary, former HDC president, unexpectedly testified from the Zoom audience. “I congratulate the candidates for not moving the Tripp House,” she said. “My big concern is the conceptual approval. We have already seen it. It looks like the app has been changed. I do not understand why there is no full application. This is the obligation of the applicant. “

In other areas:

HDC Chairman Karl Bjork urged petitioners awaiting hearing via Zoom at their May 18 meeting to be patient with the petitioners.

The first two hours of the meeting involved the approval of a new house on the Pointe, saving the site of the historic John Tripp House.

* The next hour of the meeting involved unanimous approval of a similar petition for Thomas DiPrete and Colombe Trust, 511 Ocean Ave., for permission to demolish an existing non-contributory building and construct a new single-family residence. The house will be a mix of historic and modern materials, including the introduction of red cedar.

“It’s a great presentation,” said commissioner Donald Ross.

* The last hour of the meeting was devoted to the petition of David and Jenay Evans, 78 Washington Street Much of the discussion centered on the skylights. Conditional approval was granted, 5-2, to replace a 1770 Gambrel, repair / restore / replicate plank frame windows, replace modern windows and replace the front door with a period reproduction.

* The HDC did not approve the petition from Victor and Candice Sandman, 15 Sherman St., for permission to construct a second story addition to the East Elevation.

* Council approved four other minor petitions.

* More than a dozen other petitions were postponed to the HDC’s June meeting due to lack of time to hear them.

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