The house at 80 Ocean Drive was built on the crest of the Ledges estate, one of the most prominent sites in Newport. After twenty years the owners of the estate were having to share their entry with another house and asked Ross Cann of A4 Architecture back to see if a more elegant entry to the property could be created.
The first design effort created a new entry through a grove of trees and exposed ledge but was very close to the existing gate and so lacked the elegance and grandeur that the house deserved. The second proposal envisioned creating an alternate entry gate at the other end of the site along the east side of the property. This design had the advantage of making the existing entry into more of a secondary service entrance. By carefully modeling the house and terrain, A4 Architecture was able to animate the experience of coming in the new entrance, seeing the house framed in the distance from an ideal vantage point and then winding up the hill graciously to the front entry court, rather than arriving at the back service court as the original driveway did. The path and slope of the new driveway were carefully engineered to conform to standards so that the gradient was not too steep.
Custom Colonial Era inspired gates were designed and fabricated and antique copper lights of appropriate size were sourced to sit atop the new natural stone gate posts. To christen the new entrance, the owners commissioned world-renowned stone cutter Nick Benson to carve a new stone plaque for the gates renaming the property “Osprey House” after the birds that had recently taken up residence in the property’s salt marshes, and the elegant new entry was complete, looking like it had always been there.
You never get a second chance to make a great first impression and now this grand house has the gateway and entry sequence that it deserves.
Ross Cann, RA, AIA, LEED AP, is an author, historian, and practicing architect living and working in Newport, RI. He holds degrees with honor in Architecture from Yale, Cambridge, and Columbia Universities.