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News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 17, 2014
Stonington House Tour showcases expansions, renovations

19 Granite Street, Stonington

The front deck, above, on 19 Granite Street, Stonington, Maine, the home of Jean and Jim Jackson, offers views of the gardens and the Thorofare.

Photo by George Holderness Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by George Holderness

Brilliant July sunshine streamed through the windows of the five houses on the 12th annual Stonington House Tour Friday, July 11, highlighting unique aspects of the hillside homes.

The tour was a fundraiser for the Stonington Public Library, and the proceeds will go toward weatherizing the library building.

All the houses on this year’s tour featured expansions and renovations that were designed to mesh with the original architecture and character of the buildings. Many of the additions are the work of local builders.

On Highland Avenue, the home of Nora Manning and Jim Cannon was completely rebuilt in 1990. The original house on the property had burned down, and Manning said “we discovered our house was built out of burnt sticks” from the original house. “They were rotting.” Ten years after a complete rebuild, the owners added two extensions, including an airy sunroom.

Jean and Jim Jackson’s home on Granite Street underwent everything short of a rebuild in the 1980s. In one of the pictures chronicling the building’s history, Jim Jackson pointed out how the gutted downstairs of the house, bereft of walls, frames a sweeping view of the Thorofare. Large picture windows on the first and second floors still preserve the view from inside.

Phyllis and Steve Smithson, owners of a Highland Avenue home, preserved as many features of their home as possible while extensively upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems and reconstructing much of the interior and exterior. “All the bead-board walls you see are original,” Steve Smithson pointed out, “as are the tin ceilings, and the wood flooring.” An addition and front porch, added in 2001, blend in with the original structure.

Many of the pieces of furniture in the Pleasant Street home of Diana and Oscar Turner are original from the early 1900s. Diana Turner’s paintings of local landscapes adorn the walls of most of the rooms. The house will be re-sided soon.

The exterior of the Allen Street home of Susan and Eric Toder looks much as it did in 1894 when Captain George Washington Allen built the house as a wedding gift for his son. Previous owners renovated the interior in the 1970s, and the kitchen and deck in the early 2000s. A small studio, which replaced an outbuilding, was constructed in 2004. “I use it for quilting,” said Susan Toder, “and there’s a futon for guests in the loft.”

Numerous library volunteers guided those on the tour and explained the features and histories of the houses.

17 Pleasant Street, Stonington

Much of the furniture in the dining room at 17 Pleasant Street, Stonington, Maine, the home of Diana and Oscar Turner, is original from the early 20th century. The painting on the wall is the work of Diana Turner.

Photo by George Holderness
13 Allen Street, Stonington

The studio at Susan and Eric Toder’s home, at 13 Allen Street, Stonington, Maine features a loft that can be used to house guests.

Photo by George Holderness
24 Highland Avenue, Stonington

The walls in this bedroom of Phyllis and Steve Smithson’s home at 24 Highland Avenue, Stonington, Maine, are original, saved despite a major renovation in 1997.

Photo by George Holderness
Gardens of 26 Highland Avenue, Stonington

Gardens fill the front yard of Nora Manning and Jim Cannon’s home at 26 Highland Avenue, Stonington, Maine. When the couple purchased the property in the 1980s, a massive forsythia dominated the yard. “It took years to get rid of that forsythia,” said Manning.

Photo by George Holderness
26 Highland Avenue, Stonington

The colorful second floor of 26 Highland Avenue, Stonington, Maine, the home of Nora Manning and Jim Cannon, opens onto a deck with views of the Thorofare. This section of the house was rebuilt in 1990; the addition on the other side of the deck was added in 2000.

Photo by George Holderness
19 Granite Street, Stonington

The front deck, above, on 19 Granite Street, Stonington, Maine, the home of Jean and Jim Jackson, offers views of the gardens and the Thorofare.

Photo by George Holderness