The Yarmouth House in Norfolk’s West Freemason Historic District was built in 1870 by Judge Robert W. Hughes. In 1885 the house was purchased by Dr. Herbert Nash, a Civil War surgeon who returned to Norfolk to open a medical practice and serve Norfolk and Portsmouth residents affected by the yellow fever epidemic. From 1960 to 1999 Norfolk Testing Laboratories used Yarmouth House to test coal leaving Lambert’s Point by ship for Europe and South America. From 1999–2000, the home was lovingly converted into the law offices of Waldo & Lyle, P.C. and was recognized with a preservation award from City Council and the Design Review Committee. By 2018, the firm was outgrowing the historic structure and an addition was needed to ensure that the firm members would be able to work together in one office.
After studying the historic documentation that the Owner provided along with the context of the Freemason neighborhood, the design process began by setting rules and parameters for the small addition. The new addition would sit solely on the footprint of the foundation that remained from the home’s original outbuilding kitchen. The new addition would be elevated to stay out of the FEMA floodplain and set a good example for how to live with water in an area of recurrent flooding.
The new office space connects to the second floor of the original sleeping porch, and the ground floor space is designed as a screened-in porch — an amenity for busy attorneys catching a quick lunchbreak to reconnect with the outdoors. The massing steps down to reflect the addition’s tertiary place in the building’s overall massing, with a section cantilevered over the original kitchen foundation expressed as a lighter element, clad with a series of windows and white panels. The simplified gable end gives a nod to the more intricately detailed gable of the main structure’s Italianate form and detailing.