2014-01-31 / Around Town

HDC Approves Audrain and Beechwood Proposals

By Barry Bridges


This historic postcard depicts Bellevue Avenue's Audrain Building as it appeared in 1910. The HDC has approved the reconstruction of a rooftop balustrade and restoration work on the large arched windows. This historic postcard depicts Bellevue Avenue's Audrain Building as it appeared in 1910. The HDC has approved the reconstruction of a rooftop balustrade and restoration work on the large arched windows. Newport’s Historic District Commission kicked off its January meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28 by naming its newly-elected officers for 2014-2015. In parting comments, outgoing chair John Shehan brief mentioned the “setback” incurred the previous evening when the Zoning Board of Review reversed the HDC’s much-debated denial of a proposed welcome center at The Breakers, but he declined to elaborate on the issue. He announced that Diana Sylvaria would take the helm as commission chair, with Mary Jo Valdes taking the reins as secretary. Shehan assumed the role of vice chair.

Certificates of appropriateness have been administratively issued for nine projects, including the construction of a new rear addition at the William S. Bachellaer House, 7 Willow St.; new windows at Spooner House, 1 Elm St.; and the replacement of a deteriorated wood staircase with a metal staircase in Laundry Court at The Breakers.

The commission quickly gave a nod to proposed alterations at the Audrain Building, 220-230 Bellevue Ave., a commercial property constructed in 1902 that was recently sold to a Delaware company for $5.5 million. The planned renovations include reconstructing a historic balustrade, removing chimneys, and restoring eight existing arched storefront windows.

The bulk of the evening’s discussions centered on continuing restoration efforts at Beechwood. The commission was asked to allow the construction of a new reflecting pool between Bellevue Avenue and the main house, as well as a new parterre garden with fountains and pergolas that would lie directly east of the carriage house.

Responding to questions posed by Sylvaria, Valdes, and Shehan, the estate’s landscape architect said that the intent of the effort was to provide a beautiful garden, not necessarily to restore the property to a certain point in time. However, she assured the commission that the proposed features, which are compatible with Beechwood’s mid- 19th century design, would be a natural extension of the house. Although the reflecting pool would have moving water and related mechanical equipment, those mechanisms would be hidden from view in the mansion’s basement. After construction, a service driveway would be resurfaced for consistency with the property. With this information, commission chair Sylvaria moved to approve the project as presented, and the remaining members supported the motion unanimously.

In its final order of business, the commission continued its consideration of 38 window replacements at the Burbank Rose, 111 Memorial Blvd. W., to the group’s February meeting, when a vendor will be available to provide more detailed information on the request.

Michael Conroy, Daniel Dias, Chris Fagan, and Vincent O’Dwyer round out the membership of the Historic District Commission, with Joanna Salvo serving as an alternate. The next monthly meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m.

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