The Past Revisited

A self-proclaimed detail man, builder Albert Cummings IV enjoys few things more than perusing the historic architecture that surrounds him in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

October 01, 2002


"I'm in an area that has an abundance of historic homes. I really love this type of architecture because it is so interesting and well-done. You can learn much from studying them." builder Albert Cummings IV, Albert Cummings IV General Contractor Inc.


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A self-proclaimed "detail man," builder Albert Cummings IV enjoys few things more than perusing the historic architecture that surrounds him in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. He says he's always on the lookout for elements to incorporate into his custom residential projects.

An unswerving attention to detail gives the fourth-generation builder an edge when it comes to connecting with his clients and identifying just what they want. Although he has built homes ranging from Colonial to contemporary, it is projects such as this stately, 4,800-square-foot, Federal-style residence in Williamstown, Mass., that really capture his imagination.

"I have a strong interest in the architecture of the area," says Cummings, who lives in Williamstown, a picturesque town of 8,000 that was settled in the mid-1700s and is home to one of the oldest colleges in the country, Williams College (founded in 1793). Today, says Cummings, the area is popular for secondary homes, and land prices have soared to match the escalating demand.

Most people love the area so much that they end up moving here permanently," Cummings says.


Adjacent to the kitchen, a screened-in porch promises three seasons of use for the homeowners and includes a built-in corner grill. "The screened-in porch is something that everyone has around here," says Cummings.

Built as a weekend retreat for clients who entertain frequently, this home is on a 20-acre site that originally was part of a historic estate. The original manor home still stands.

"It was very important to the client that the house look as though it had been on this spot forever," architect Andy Burr says.

Designed to convey the sense that this is an older home that has been added on to over the years, the main structure features an all-brick exterior. The "addition," which includes two guest rooms, a recreation room and a three-car garage, is finished in cedar lap siding.

Cummings describes his clients as "formal people who like to be informal," and the interior floor plan accommodates their needs. Basking in the glow of a two-story light well created by a cathedral ceiling that culminates in a ridged skylight, the formal dining room serves as the focus of the home's entry.


The family room reflects the influence of a nearby Shaker village, says Cummings. It features painted poplar paneling, a coffered ceiling and a granite surround for the fireplace. Sliding glass doors provide access to an outdoor patio that features bluestone pavers and a low brick wall topped by a granite cap.

Still, it is the spacious country kitchen, which includes a center island snack bar, a breakfast nook and views of nearby Mount Greylock, that draws family and friends into the home.

A game room over the garage provides play space for the owners' grandchildren when they visit. Two bedrooms in the "addition" wing offer private accommodation for overnight guests.

The home also features a finished basement with a recreation room and a wine cellar.

Style of Home - Federal

Location - Williamstown, Mass.

Total Square Footage - 4,800

Hard Costs - $250 per square foot

Builder - Albert J. Cummings IV General Contractor Inc., Williamstown

Architect - Burr & McCallum, Williamstown

Custom Home - Weekend retreat for empty-nester couple

Major Products Used - Appliances: Thermador (stove, warming drawer), Sub-Zero (refrigerator), KitchenAid (dishwasher) - Countertops: Corian, granite - Cabinetry: Wood-Mode (cherry) - Doors: Morgan - Fireplace: site-built - HVAC: Carrier - Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler - Windows: Pella - Roofing: GAF (Slateline)

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