In 1881, the prominent businessman Amos O. Reed built a beautiful Italianate home on High Street in Brunswick. The Reeds lived in the house for almost 30 years before selling to the Drapeau family, who called it home for another 70 years. In 2011, Courtney and Donna Neff became the newest owners of this historic house, learning all about its past and committing to a dramatic restoration.
The first challenge? Deciding what to do with a 1980s addition that extended off the back of the kitchen and the master bedroom. The height, roofline, and windows of the addition were completely incompatible with the Italianate architecture of the house, and the quality of the construction proved very poor. The addition would have to go. Assisted by Mark Wild of G.M. Wild, whose skilled carpenters are recognized for their quality restoration work, the entire 400 sq. ft. two-story addition was separated from the kitchen with a reciprocating saw and torn down.
Crews then gutted the kitchen and discovered that there was inadequate support for the second story. They also had to remove a badly deteriorated chimney before proceeding with rebuilding. On the plus side, the original birch floor was discovered under three layers of wood and linoleum and was restored and re-laid. Quarter-sawn oak cabinets, slate counters and a 1920s stove retrofitted for natural gas were incorporated and now blend seamlessly with the original features of the house. A stunning stained-glass window which the Neff’s had acquired 50 years ago fit perfectly above an antique slate sink. They also duplicated a bay window that adorns the front of the house and installed it in the new kitchen out back. providing both light and a view of a garden.
In addition to the major kitchen renovation, the Neffs installed new insulation, new bathrooms, new wiring and plumbing , and remediated asbestos in the basement. Most of the original features of the house remain intact, including original two-over-two windows, hardwood flooring and steam radiators. Work on the property also included a complete structural rebuild of the original carriage house. Now completely restored. it’s one of only a few to survive in Brunswick.
The Neffs have created a warm, inviting home while maintaining and restoring its original historic character. Their remarkable restoration work, featured twice in Old House Journal, has truly been a labor of love. The dignity of Amos Reed’s impressive home has been honored, and once again it holds a place of prominence in historic Brunswick.