Rhode Islanders have this reputation for not wanting to leave the state, and with miles of scenic coastline, charming towns, and historic cities, who can blame us? So, if you’re looking for a get-away without going away, look no further than Tiverton, where a once dilapidated Quonset hut has been transformed into boutique accommodations complete with private chef dinners by candlelight.
While the name Quonset hut might conjure visions of a thatched-roof dwelling in the woods, these half-cylindrical steel structures are anything but. They were designed to be light-weight pre-fab buildings for the US Navy that could be easily shipped and then constructed on-site with little skill required. Manufactured in the multitudes in the 1940s at Quonset Point, most were used to store supplies and ammunition, and later some provided post-war housing.
Fast-forward to present-day when one such humble structure was spotted by a member of the Moore family, a close-knit team of fixer-uppers. Mom Sharon, Pop Mark, and grown-children Blair, Bromley, and Corran are doing business as Moore House, a Tiverton-based company offering, among other things, unique storied lodgings. Says Blair Moore, creative director and head designer, “Many of our guests are trying to escape the hustle and bustle of their lives and our cottages and hut are a way for us to help them rewind the clocks and focus in on what really matters most: the experiences you have with your family.”
With its fresh design, it’s difficult to believe that this 1940s shelter once held ammunition and was in terrible shape. Says Bair Moore fondly, “With only a handful of Quonset huts left in the state and only a few thousand in the entire country, my family found it necessary to look after this little gem and restore it to its former glory.” By June of 2017 the Moores did just that and have even deemed this their favorite renovation to date, an inventory which includes properties all over the world.
“We wanted to be thoughtful with color and lighting,” says Moore, who didn’t want fixtures to detract from “that amazing undulated ceiling”, so hand-blown glass domes were hung sparingly throughout the space. The arched ceiling equips the room with what Moore describes as “outstanding acoustics,” especially effective for after-dinner dancing when someone sits at the piano, a prized acquisition formerly owned by a Boston Pops pianist. Two long benches provide seating for 12 at the narrow table constructed from old floor boards.
Creating a customized home away from home experience is integral to the Moore family, whose matriarch, Sharon, is known for making guests feel welcome and special. Says Moore, “Our private Chef Nights come from a love of gathering with family and friends and wanting to share those experiences we’ve had with our guests.”
From ambience to food and drink, Chef Nights are a collaborative effort. Starters, cocktails, dinner, and dessert are all curated from a roster of local talent which includes Newport’s Stoneacre Brasserie, Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails, and florals from Weatherlow Farms in nearby Westport, Massachusetts.
“Dinner begins with appetizers made from scratch by local chefs and are always accompanied by cocktails and followed by fabulous desserts. Guests can then dance the night away to the sound of music on the fabulous piano,” says Moore, who notes that Chef Nights are her favorite. “Who would have thought this Quonset hut would come alive after everybody said ‘tear her down’?” Tiverton