Historic Hotel Reimagined

Architect Patrick Ahearn’s new book tells the story of a once-grand seaside resort and its transformation into an elegant home overlooking Duxbury Bay.

By Dave Kindy Photography by Taylor Ahearn Aerial photo by Hawk Visuals


If not for a fortuitous change in the wind, a jewel of the South Shore might have been lost forever. In 1908, fire erupted at the Myles Standish Hotel in Duxbury, destroying a number of outlying buildings. As the blaze threatened to consume the elegant seaside resort, the air of fortune shifted and the rambling main building was saved from devastation.

Which is a good thing. Otherwise, Boston architect Patrick Ahearn would not have been able to reimagine this stately property as one of the premier private residences overlooking Duxbury Bay. After new owners purchased the property in 2016, Ahearn began an extensive redesign of the north wing of the once-grand hotel with a keen eye toward preserving its classic charm while introducing modern influences to create a home for today.

The award-winning architect has chronicled that major undertaking in a new book, “History Reinterpreted: The Myles Standish Hotel.” The narrative relates how he reimagined the historic structure as a beautiful homestead perfectly suited for a contemporary lifestyle.

“What if this was still the Myles Standish Hotel?” Ahearn said in an interview. “Half of it was removed at one point. So with some poetic license, my idea was to reimagine it as it would have looked today. That was my mission: to make sure the script and narrative matched reality. The spirit of the project was what the hotel would have looked like over time.”

Taylor Ahearn

Built in 1871 on land once owned by Pilgrim Myles Standish, the stately resort was originally known as the Standish House. The name was later changed and the refined retreat became the “must visit” destination on the South Shore for many of the East Coast’s wealthy elite. In addition to the massive hotel, the property included a spectacular vista of Duxbury Bay, spring well with bottling operation, 400-foot pier for boating, golf course, bathhouses and sailing regattas throughout the summer.

The resort reopened following the 1908 fire but then closed for good four years later. It fell into disrepair until it was acquired by two brothers who “split up” the property. The resort’s south wing was moved to another location while the north wing remained on site and was used as a residence. Later additions changed the scope and aesthetics of the original building.

Taylor Ahearn

At first, the home’s owners lived in a home next to the site. But they came to realize the potential for the beautiful former hotel and asked Ahearn to come up with ideas as to how it could be restored.

“They fell in love with the design, sold their house and moved into it,” says Ahearn. “Our client wanted to preserve it in order to resell it at first but couldn’t resist the charm of this property. It was a nice story.”

Ahearn began by researching the grand old hotel and soon envisioned how its classic elegance could be reimagined as a stately home. He added a new carriage house and boat house, as well as a large wrap-around porch, to complete his reinterpreted design.

The owners liked his ideas. So did the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. The prestigious organization recognized Ahearn’s redesign with the 2021 Bulfinch Award for Residential (Restoration, Renovation or Addition).

Taylor Ahearn

While working on the project, Ahearn decided to document the process for a book. This is his second; his first, “Timeless: Classical American Architecture for Contemporary Living,” was released in 2018.

“History Reinterpreted: The Myles Standish Hotel” is lavishly illustrated with photos of the original hotel, new images of the reinvented property and Ahearn’s original hand drawings of how the restoration process could take place. The 172-page hardcover book sells for $45 and is available for order through Amazon and on the architect’s website. Ahearn is also planning a South Shore book tour to discuss the project.

History-Reinterpreted_MSH_cover copy

For more information about the book and to purchase a copy, visit patrickahearn.com

Taylor Ahearn