Historic Styles

Architecture in historic styles

Some communities, such as Cape May, New Jersey, want to preserve their historic character. Even when buildings are totally new, they need to blend with existing period structures. Fenwick Architects is adept at designing buildings that use new materials yet emulate historical styles.

Fenwick designed the Sturdy Savings Bank in Cape May, which features a Victorian clock steeple, wraparound porch and wood siding. Visitors asking when the building was constructed are surprised to find out it was 1996.

The bank’s new casement windows are framed by Victorian-style trim—which is actually fabricated from polymers. “It’s often impractical to use ‘authentic’ materials,” Steve Fenwick says. “We create the right look, shape and texture, using the most practical materials currently available to us.”

Fenwick was presented with an interesting design challenge when asked to convert Cape May’s Franklin Street Church into three condominiums. The church was built in 1879 in the Carpenter’s Gothic style, with beautiful vaulted spaces and majestic stained glass windows.

Fenwick optimized the existing interior architecture while creating comfortable living spaces. The building was divided horizontally so each unit has two floors. Still, the lower-level bedrooms have 15-foot ceilings, and the upper-level great rooms have soaring 27-foot ceilings. The church tower became a library for one of the condominiums.

The scale of a building is also important when working in a historic area. Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, New Jersey, planned a state-of-the-art Cancer Center for land it owned in an old residential neighborhood. Through innovative design, Fenwick Associates made it blend right in.

The Cancer Center is large—it has three stories and 28,700 square feet. Yet the side that faces historic Shore Road resembles a small A-frame house—it’s a nice addition to the streetscape. Surprisingly, this part of the building houses the center’s $1.7 million linear accelerator.

The firm’s work in a historical context has won several awards.