IT ISN’T HARD TO IMAGE JAY GATSBY gazing out across the glittering waters of Block Island Sound from the terrace of this magnificent Tudor home designed by the renowned architect, John Russell Pope (1874 – 1937). Best known for his designs of public buildings, churches, museums, and monuments, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York, The National Gallery, and Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., Pope was nonetheless a consummate designer of country houses, most of which were completed during the early part of his career. Given Wadia’s respect for Pope, whose architectural achievements greatly inspired him and had a profound impact on his eventual design philosophy, Wadia felt a great sense of obligation when he undertook the renovation and subsequent additions to this outstanding home. Recognizing the foolishness of attempting to improve upon a master, it became Wadia’s unspoken responsibility to ensure that the style and dignity of the home remained unaltered, an exercise in ego suppression lest he inadvertently place a stamp where none was needed.
The renovation of the house began with the façade, which had deteriorated significantly over time. Wadia revitalized the rear terrace, an impressive structure running along the entire length of the house. By replacing the timber posts with stone piers and incorporating a new rear portico into its overall design, the terrace is now better fortified to withstand the salt sprays and has become a wonderful gathering spot to relax and enjoy the magnificent views. As the renovation proceeded, it became apparent that several additions would be necessary to update the home. The first addition off one side of the house created space for an enlarged kitchen and breakfast room on the first level topped by a graciously appointed master suite featuring a dressing room, sitting room and his-and-hers bathrooms on the second level. On the opposite side of the house, Wadia designed a second addition to provide space for a new family room overlooking the swimming pool. A third addition features a new garage wing that connects the main house to the guest house. The additions are incorporated into the overall design of the house so seamlessly that more than one observer has been prompted to marvel at its authenticity. Of course, to have his design modifications mistaken for Pope’s work is the greatest compliment that Wadia could ever receive.