Winning Project, Accessory Building
History is repeated in the best possible way as Greenwich architect Charles Hilton cultivates a new gardener’s cottage on a small working farm.
“It took ingenuity to carry out this project, and vision carried it through.” So said the Washburn jurors who awarded this gardener’s cottage top honors in the Accessory Building category. It has a wonderful backstory: A Greenwich couple (he an avid gardener, she a professional chef) purchased the property adjacent to their own, ostensibly to keep the McMansions at bay. They then commissioned Charles Hilton Architects to build a practical garden structure on the land. The project involved renovating several existing buildings to preserve the streetscape, but principal Charles Hilton took it to the next level by building the cottage into the stone wall that borders the property. The plan also called for an expansion of formal gardens and the development of a small farm. A love of French architecture informed the design; research included a trip to Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine at Versailles. The buildings were significantly upgraded, enhanced and transformed from shingle buildings into one structure of stone, stucco and half timbers, with French glazing and graduated slate roofs. With more than a nod to authenticity, the interior features antiqued plaster walls, ceiling beams and stone floors. To abide by town zoning laws, Hilton had to stay within the original footprint, yet the 3,600-square-foot accessory building houses guest quarters, the caretaker’s office, garages and potting and storage rooms. The jury applauded the architect’s use of most of the existing structures—and we do, too. There’s more: The property’s large formal vegetable garden, orchard and beehives now produce a variety of fruits, vegetables and honey for the homeowners’ use, fulfilling their desire to contribute local, organically grown produce to the community.