Boutique hotel transformation and historic preservation
409 The Hill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally built in 1809 as the first urban example of duplex housing in the country. Since then, the building has transformed multiple times, most recently serving as a restaurant. Our firm was challenged with creating a design to transform this important historic building into Portsmouth's first apartment-style hotel with contemporary features juxtaposed with preserving the important historic characteristics of the building.
- Each room was designed open and spacious enough to feel comfortable for a longer-term stay if needed, or a more luxurious short-term stay than can be afforded in a standard hotel room.
- Dormers were added to the roof to create the third-floor with more usable space and natural light for the larger rooms and required extensive review with the Historic District Commission in Portsmouth.
- The interior egress was improved with a compliant exit for the upper rooms while the more independent ground floor rooms have access directly from the exterior, similar to a downtown apartment or condo.
- Utilities, sprinklers, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems were intricately coordinated to accommodate individual suites with in-room kitchens and laundry for the extended-stay suites.
Converting the building into individual inn units required extensive efforts to accomplish. Challenges were presented when construction removals began, revealing structural issues—columns were removed or structurally compromised in earlier renovations to the building. Timber posts were chiseled away in these renovations to be hidden behind wall finishes, and some of the timber beams suffered water-related damage. These issues and other updates made to the building over a number of decades led to overloading the roof and related connections. WH worked with our client and design team to evaluate and strengthen the existing framing, ensuring the building would be structurally sound while providing updated, contemporary interior spaces that complement the historic nature of the building.
While working with a centuries-old building in a historic district did not come without challenges, the end result, Portsmouth’s first apart-hotel, serves as a unique addition to the landscape of downtown Portsmouth, NH.