Rehabbing History

Revamped and renovated, this Lake Sunapee Adirondack maintains its historical character while offering all the comforts of a modern home.

Owners Peter and Jean Helwing had budgeted for a smaller lake home, perhaps one more like the house Jean’s family owned in Conway, or one along the lines of the lakeside home their three children grew up with. But they fell in love with Lake Sunapee, the surrounding community and the home on the hill, and in 1996 they started to make it their own.

The property features an intricate landscape of stone walls and a long walkway that leads to the water. Breezes off the lake sweep through a porch and balconies that have been restored to their original style. Stone and white cedar collide to create a home that is as spectacular as it is simple.

Rustic and charming, the Adirondack-style home was built in 1915 as a summer lodge overlooking beautiful Lake Sunapee. Its original owner, George Hendee, the co-founder and president of the Indian Motorcycle Company in Springfield, Mass., found solace in the New Hampshire waters. Though little is known about Hendee’s lake adventures, an account of a Hendee Trophy, given to the owner of the fastest motorboat on the lake, makes it clear that Hendee spent enough time at his lakehouse to make a name for himself among the neighbors.

But almost as soon as he had arrived at the lake he was gone, selling his home and the 40-or-so acres he owned behind the house. “The house has changed hands every 10 years,” says Peter Helwing. In fact, a number of Helwing’s neighbors on the lake have owned the home at one time. Though much of the house has been updated to meet the needs of a modern lifestyle, the Helwings have preserved some of the original detailing of the home and have modeled what couldn’t be saved after the work of Hendee’s builders.

Just looking at the home it is impossible to tell which railings and beams are originals and which were added later since local builder Craig Howe went to great lengths to track down wood that reflected the original. Updated with modern appliances, the kitchen is a blend of old and new. Countertops made of local granite and simple white handmade cabinets that mimic the originals in the pantry bring the design close to home.

The authentic beams have been incorporated into each room of the house, adding dimension and perspective to the home’s style. Three fireplaces offer beauty and functionality as they kindle warmth throughout the home. One fireplace, the oversized living room hearth, bears the phrase “As we journey through life let us live by the way” on its mantle. Helwing loves the adage, a line from Scottish poet Walter Watson’s “Drinking Song,” and has taken special care to preserve it.

It is easy to see why the owners love the aesthetics of the home. They have been able to seamlessly weave new construction with older elements of the home, creating the look and feel of a turn-of-century house with the added comforts and upgrades of the modern era.

With so much charm and character, it’s hard to pinpoint the home’s best features. Helwing and his wife enjoy spending sunny summer days and nights out on the porch, being upstairs where balconies in their children’s rooms overlook the sparkling water and walking along the lighted switchback. So what’s their favorite part of the lakefront home? “We love everything,” he says. NH



Newbury’s treasures on view as local fundraiser.

The Helwing home and other lake and farm houses with historical ties will be featured during the “Newbury’s Treasures: Our Lake Lodges and Farmhouses” tour on August 15 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. In addition to a viewing of eight Newbury homesteads and the 1832 Center Meeting House, distinctive antiques will be on sale at one of the farmhouses. Proceeds of the tour, sponsored by The Center Meeting House of Newbury Committee in association with the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, will benefit the restoration of the Center Meeting House. A Preview Gala Party will be held the night before from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Stone Barn in Newbury. Music, an art exhibit and sale and tours of the Barn will top off this elegant garden party.

For more information about the event call either (603) 763-2840 or (603) 927-4006. Tickets for the party and the tour can be bought together or separately at the following locations: Morgan Hill Bookstore, New London; Marzelli’s Deli, Newbury; and the Bayberry Barn, North Sutton. For info on the NHPA, visit

Categories: Home & Garden