The Power House Watch Hill, RI

With under 800 s.f. of living space, this former electrical substation turned guest house lives large in a neighborhood of sizeable and distinguished Watch Hill summer homes. The historic 1914 brick building was preserved and thoughtfully repurposed into a guest house for a family who lives nearby.

Built at the entrance to a former Mellon estate, the building once housed the electrical equipment that powered the trolleys that ran between Westerly and Watch Hill. With the advent of the car, the need for the electrical substation diminished and the building was abandoned in the 1950’s. Our clients bought the defunct building and hired our firm to preserve the historic structure while envisioning the next chapter in its history.

The brick exterior was meticulously preserved in collaboration with the Rhode Island Preservation Commission.  Streamlined built-in furniture and light-colored birdseye maple floors and paneling are key features of the industrial modern interior. The original steel trusses are exposed and painted black in a nod to its industrial past. Suspended black linear LED lighting illuminates the ceiling evoking the appearance of the original pipes and rods that ran along the electrical substation’s ceiling.

With such a tiny building footprint every square inch had to be utilized. A sleeping loft with a built-in wardrobe floats over the center of the living space. The bathroom, closets and stacked washer and dryer are tucked under the sleeping loft.

While originally designed for overflow guests and family members, this little guest house is so comfortable and welcoming that the owners admit they sometimes use it as their home away from home even when no one is visiting.