Project Update: Arlington MA Historic Home Renovation & Addition

This is the second installment in our monthly chronicle of a major historic home renovation and addition project in Arlington, MA. The first installment laid out the scope of the project. If you missed it, you can read it here.

The construction phase of the project began with demolition of the existing one-story addition and deck.

demolition before building addition

old addition demolition

At the same time, we’ve virtually gutted the entire interior of the home, retaining the exterior walls, most of the upstairs floors and some original woodwork. The old heating system has been entirely removed and will be replaced with a high-efficiency alternative.

remodeling historic MA home


We were delighted to find that the 1850 home features post-and-beam construction, which means that force is on the outside walls. This gave us greater flexibility to open up or eliminate interior walls without adding costly additional structural support.



Since the home is on the Arlington Historic Register, exterior changes are limited. The homeowner needs to retain a chimney in its original location, despite the fact that it will no longer be used by the new HVAC systems. Originally, we were going to support the chimney at the third floor level, but eliminate it from the floors below. Instead, we are eliminating the chimney in its entirety and replacing it with a wood and brick veneer substitute that is aesthetically identical, but non-functioning. This solution eliminates the need for chimney support on the third floor.

When completed, the renovation will retain the historic character of the home while opening up the floor plan for living spaces that are more suited to modern lifestyles. The home will feature:

First Floor

  • Spacious open kitchen and dining area
  • Living room
  • Rear hall with 3/4 bath, laundry area, closets and basement access
  • Front porch and reconfigured hallways

Second Floor

  • New master bedroom suite with master bath
  • Two bedrooms with bath
  • Sitting room
  • Reconfigured hallways and new stairway to the attic

Full Basement and Attic
The full basement will be the future home of an exercise room.


Stay tuned for future installments. Feel free to call us with any questions.

And by the way, may we help you with your renovation? Please contact us for more information.

Tags: remodeling project photos, historic renovation, Boston home renovation

Morse Constructions Receives 2013 PRISM Award for Universal Design

2013 Prism Award

Morse Constructions was honored to receive a Gold Award for Best Universal Design at the 2013 PRISM Awards hosted by the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Boston (BRAGB) on October 30, 2013 in Boston. The PRISM Awards celebrate the building and design achievements of professionals in the home building industry. Gold and Silver Awards are presented to companies in 49 different categories.

Morse Constructions received the Gold Award for Best Universal Design for our work creating a bath that looked beautiful and functioned equally well for our clients, a 38-year-old recent quadruple amputee and his able-bodied 6’ 2” partner.Our client, Will, lost his limbs to a horrible strep infection that almost took his life.Our goal was to restore some of his independence by employing universal design principles while creating a bath that looks stunning and functions well for all.

Boston universal design bathroom

As outlined in the description for BRAGB, the project posed some challenges, including:

  • The very small existing space gave us only 8’ 11” x 4’ 10 ½” with which to work. There was no possibility of expanding the space.

  • There is no natural light with the layout of this unit within a large building.

  • Because of condo limitations, there are constraints working with the floor/ceiling cavity when installing a trench drain.

The new design includes simple clean lines with beautiful colors, maximum floor space and maneuverability.The relocation of the toilet and sink gives a more spacious feel and creates more room to enter and exit through a 36” wide, zero threshold doorway.

Boston universal design bath

All the fixtures and doors allow for minimal effort for all abilities and are simple and intuitive:

  • Both the entry door and the large shower door are on easy rollers that require little effort.

  • The wall mounted sink includes a touchless or manually operated faucet with the possibility of presetting the temperature.

  • The Duravit Sensowash Shower toilet seat has flexible wall mounted or remote controls.

  • The curbless shower with trench drain allows for easy access and gentler slope within the shower.The shower features a rain head and a personal shower which may be mounted in multiple locations and heights for maximum flexibility and personal preference. The controls also allow for presetting the temperature. The hinged shower bench allows for easy folding.

Our client says that his guests joke about having parties in the bathroom because the space is so beautiful and sleek.“Before I lost the use of my limbs, I was a professor of film. I appreciate the visual and love beautiful things, but I never thought I would have a bathroom that is this stunning.”

Best of all, Will says that the bathroom that Morse Constructions created for him has had a “huge impact” on his life by allowing him to do things that he never thought he would be able to do again. “When you lose the use of your limbs, you need a lot of personal care assistance and give up a lot of personal space. To regain some independence is totally amazing.”

We are proud that the national judges for the 2013 PRISM Awards selected this project for recognition.


For more examples of our work, please visit our photo galleries.

Tags: universal design, bathroom remodeling, awards