Bristol home, built in 1754, undergoing total renovation

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 5/24/23

A near total demolition of a house built prior to the Revolutionary War has caused concern among some residents, but the Town's Historic District Commission assures everything is on the up and up.

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Bristol home, built in 1754, undergoing total renovation


An historic home located right next to the East Bay Media Group headquarters on Bradford Street has been the subject of extensive (and noisy) renovations over the past several weeks, as the pre-Revolution building has been all but demolished.

But despite what may appear to be a drastic all-but-complete demolition of the light blue structure that once stood at 21 Bradford St., the applicant, Elvio Sciacca, of Johnston, has received praise from the town’s Historic District Commission for working collaboratively with the town towards a goal of restoring the building to what it would have looked like when it was originally built in 1754.

“The owner has been extremely cooperative throughout the entire process and the architect [Cordelia Dawson] is skilled in preservation,” said HDC member Ben Bergenholtz, who was assigned as the project monitor from the board. Bergenholtz said that the scope of work eventually realized was not originally planned, but was revealed to be necessary when a structural engineer looked at the property and realized that most of the building was not safe in its current condition.

“As somebody who is familiar with post and beam construction, this did not follow traditional post and beam construction,” he said. “This goes back to when it was originally built. They didn’t follow these building techniques that date back to medieval England…It was on the verge of collapse.”

Bergenholtz said he has fielded quite a few calls from concerned residents regarding the project, but said that he was satisfied that everything was being handled appropriately under the town’s ordinances.

“It is kind of shocking to see it,” he said. “ But I have complete faith in the owner and architect.”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.