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Architect Greg Crockett and his wife, Kathy, have a penchant for living by the sea…and among thickets of trees. Hence their history of juggling homes to have the best of both worlds. For 20 years, the couple resided in Essex while enjoying a cottage on Nantucket Island. Then their daughters’ interest in horses led to the purchase of a farmhouse in Vermont—at which point they realized owning three homes was a bit much. So, they sold the Cape cottage, resigned themselves to the idea of leaving their beloved home in Essex, and set their sights on an oddball little place in Manchester-by-the-Sea.

“We loved the plot for the views and the solar opportunities,” explains Crockett, whose principal goal was to design and build an energy-efficient home to replace the awkward three-legged ranch that occupied the site at purchase. “Energy formed the whole basis for the house…. We were trying to keep it contextual…but, if it were totally up to me, it would probably be a gleaming white box,” he jokes.

Set on roughly an acre and a half of land with a view of Smith Cove, the 5,000-square-foot house and outbuildings were completed in 2016. The original estate belonged to the Crocketts’ neighbors to the west and dates back at least 120 years. “There were a lot of mature plantings,” recalls Crockett. “We doubled over backward trying to maintain them.”

In addition to creating a tight building envelope for energy efficiency, Crockett was keen to generate solar power. “We matched the roof pitch to the angle of our latitude—an 11/12 pitch—but to make that pitch, the roof would have been huge,” he says, noting that he ended up extending the house and the eaves by two feet to accommodate the number of panels he wanted. He also opted for a broken pitch, which gives the house a bungalow-like, Arts & Crafts look—something that informed design decisions on the exterior, including the addition of a front portico with Craftsman columns. Because the goal was a low-maintenance property, Crockett went with a copper roof lining and a textured stone veneer, which is notable for its cut corners.

With passive design principles in mind—whereby a structure is oriented to capture desired warmth and protect against frigid winds—Crockett kept fenestration on the east and west sides of the house minimal, while the south side is largely glass. Helping to keep a tight seal are the triple-glazed push-out French windows by Bieber—mahogany on the interior and seamless, dark bronze aluminum on the exterior. “We are just tickled with them,” says Crockett. “They work so well that you can’t tell what the weather is doing outside because they are so tight and quiet…. We can’t even hear the nearby commuter rail.”

Sustainable Design Features

3,000-gallon rainwater harvesting cistern

Double-studded 13-inch-thick walls 

Cellulose insulation

LED lighting throughout 

Wood-burning Belgian fireplaces

Motorized range hood damper

Double-motorized exhaust duct damper

Triple-glazed windows

Permeable driveway

Ipe decking around the pool

Other design elements that work in favor of energy efficiency include two Belgian fireplaces, each of which has four convective outlets and a sealed glass door; ventilation occurs via a direct connection to the outdoors. Crockett notes that their air-source heating system is expensive to operate, so the couple relies heavily on the fireplaces. In the kitchen, a motorized damper for the range hood opens to allow in fresh air, while keeping a tight seal when closed; similarly, a double-motorized damper in the exhaust duct prevents leaks.

“I have to attribute a lot of the really smart design decisions, at least from an energy standpoint, to my engineer, Jordan Goldman of Zero Energy Design,” notes Crockett, who was talked out of some of his initial ideas. For example, he anticipated having a geothermal heat pump, but Goldman made evident its futility; instead, he advocated for air-source heat pumps, which have improved greatly in recent years. Spray foam, too, was part of Crockett’s original plan, but it was forfeited once Goldman made clear its high greenhouse gas emission rate; cellulose insulation was used. Finally, there was the couple’s fondness for radiant heat flooring, which was deemed unnecessary, given the passive design features that trap winter sunlight to such a degree that the house really heats up; heated floors would only create an overly warm environment.

While sustainable design features were the focus, Crockett and his wife enjoyed making stylistic decisions, too. In the kitchen, for instance, he points to the clear-finished black locust cabinets, which are meant to give a subtle nautical feel. “One of the things we talked about when we started conceiving [the house] was making it masculine with a nautical feel,” he says, noting that black locust was a wood used in the making of his antique sailboat. Crockett also designed the curvilinear island, with its quarter-sawn white oak top and stained base, as well as the ceiling cove above. “I wanted to articulate things a bit…. Everything is so rectilinear. I wanted to break it up to create more eclectic spaces.” He notes the arched cove in the dining room with indirect lighting as an effort made in that same vein toward that same end. 

The Crocketts’ new home by the sea is at once a haute haven and a remarkable example of smart, sustainable design. 



Architectural Design

GA Crockett, 978-526-1673

Interior Design

Meichi Peng Studio 460 Harrison Avenue, Suite A6 Boston, MA 02118

Designed 2nd floor window seats, middle BR bunkbeds and console, 1st floor FP surrounds, kitchen booth, LR console tables, MB bed, selected most of the first-floor furniture

Color Consultant

KC Jermain Architectural Color Design 85 hart St. Beverly, MA 01915

Helped select all interior and exterior colors including custom rugs

Mechanical Design

Zero Energy Design 156 Milk St. Suite 3 Boston, MA 02109

Helped with envelope design, certified house aas Energy Star

Structural Design

Struble Engineering, LLC 603 Main St. Suite 5 Reading, MA 01867-3002

Lighting Design

Livingston Lighting CLC, Gloucester, MA 01930

Landscaping Design and Installation

Linda Bangs Design 37 Cherry St. Wenham, MA 01984

Septic and Rainwater Reclamation Design

Mill River Consulting 6 Sargent Street Gloucester, MA 01930


General Contractors

Filias Construction, Inc. 19 Desmond Ave. Manchester, MA 01944

South Essex Construction 50 Eastern Ave. Essex, MA 01929

Piece by Piece Deconstruction 755 Westhampton Rd. Florence, MA 01062

Electrical Contractor

Randazza Electric 41 Webster St. Gloucester, MA 01930

Plumbing Contractor

Goodall Plumbing & Heating, Inc. 22 Cole St. Beverly, MA 01915

HVAC Contractor

Morris heating & Air Conditioning 56 Mitchell Road Ipswich, MA 01938

Masonry Contractor

Lowe Brothers Construction 35 Laurel St. Gloucester, MA 01930

Roofing Contractor

Michael West 117 MacArthur Dr. Millbury, MA 01527 (House)

Eric Doucette Roofing 12 Spring Hill Rd. West Newbury, MA 01985 (Garage)

Concrete Contractor

Craig’s Concrete & Construction, LLC 17 Whipple Woods Rd. Gloucester, MA 01930

Blasting Contractor

Akerley Drilling and Blasting 20 Kondelin Rd. Gloucester, MA 01930

Structural Steel Contractor

Mike Cronan Steel 146 Park St. N. Reading, MA 01864

Insulation Contractor

Green Stamp Co. 184 Riverview Ave. Waltham, MA 02453

Woodworking Contractor

Dean W. Richards Custom Woodworking 17 Winthrop St. Essex, MA 01929

Built all cabinets, int. & ext. doors, mirror frame, mahogany fill on stair screen

Metal Contractor

Cassidy Brothers Forge, Inc. 282 Newburyport Turnpike Rowley, MA 01969

Provided custom SS railing at pool house deck, pool fencing, bronze handrails, and bronze screen at stair

Alarm, Home Automation, and AV Contractor

SOS Home Systems 240 Boston Street Topsfield, Massachusetts 01983

Glazing Contractor

Weaver Glass 393 Rantoul St. Beverly, MA 01915

Painting Contractor

BLC Painting 9 Naples St. Salem, MA 01970

Tile Contractor

Gilles Bouchard Tile Contractor 20 Molloy Road Georgetown, MA 01833

Plaster Contractor

Vito’s Plastering 13 Davis Terrace Peabody, MA 01960

Swimming Pool Design and Construction

South Shore Gunite 12Esquire Rd. Billerica, MA 01862

Solar PV System Design and Construction

Real Goods solar 833 W. South Boulder Rd. Louisville, CO 80027


General Building Supplies

Building Center 140 Western Ave. Essex, MA 01929


Bieber Windows and Doors 817 Broadway, 5th floor New York, New York 10003

Wood Flooring

Vermont Plank Flooring 1077 Putney Rd. Brattleboro, VT 05301


Stone Source 327 A St. Boston, MA 02210

Rugs and Carpets

Landry & Arcari 63 Flint St. Salem, MA 01970

Steven King Decorative Carpets One Design Center Suite 405 Boston, MA 02210

Interior Stone

Cumar, Inc 69 Noman St. Everett, MA 02149


Wolfers Lighting 103 N. Beacon St. Allston, MA 02134

?Plumbing Fixtures

Designer Bath 97 river St. Beverly, MA 01915


Wittus Fire by Design, Inc. 40 Westchester Ave. Pound Ridge, NY 10576

Window Treatments

Back Bay Shutter 169 Merrimac St. Woburn, MA 01801


McLaughlin Upholstering Co. 1813 Revere Beach Parkway Everett, MA 02149

Drapes and Cushions

Thread 53 Jeffrey Ave. 5B Holliston, MA 01746

Architectural Hardware

Raybern Hardware 24 Roland St. Charlestown, MA 02129

Exterior Stone

Swenson Granite Works 125 Newburyport Turnpike Rowley, MA 01969

Building veneer sourced from Allstone Corp.3643 VT Rte. 103 North Chester VT 05143

Solecol Permeable Driveway

Jeffrey’s Creek Land Contractors, Inc. 180 Southern Ave. Essex, MA 01929