Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Parties on Pleasant Street

For some, the idea of living in an historic house isn't just about the gunstock corners, exposed beams and parson's cupboards.  Older houses are often found in settings of established neighborhoods.  Perhaps its the front porches, or the fact that the houses are closer to the street - and to each other.  But whatever the reason, a feeling of community often abounds.

I was lucky enough to squeeze some time in this busy season to have a cup of eggnog with Beth, a friend who lives in just such a neighborhood.  Pleasant street in Sagamore (on the cape side of the bridge) is a beautiful quiet little street with an interesting variety of architectural homes that sits right on the canal.  The neighborhood is alive with book discussion groups, multi-family yard sales, fourth of July parties and the like.  Beth gave me a letter she had written that was printed in the Cape Cod Times, Dec 20, 2011 which describes her neighborly street.  I've included an excerpt and link of her letter below.

From Cape Cod Times, Dec 20, 2011
Neighborhood can be more than people in proximity, written by Elizabeth Ellis
Columnist Tom Geisthorpe wrote Dec. 2 of his warm, old-fashioned neighborhood in Cataumet where two long established families, particularly, maintain a very local, intimate, annual tradition of food, fun and sailing.  I, too, live in a traditional neighborhood, at the opposite end of town, with a similar spirit of community.

A few families - like my husband's - have lived in this special place for hundreds of years.  Others have just moved in.  All are embraced by our tradition of - parties!  Having a multifamily yard sale?  Follow it with a cookout.  Fourth of July?  New neighbor landing here after a rough divource?  Read a good book that you'd like to discuss?  Any excuse can excite our socialization mode.

It wasn't always this way.  To read more click here

If you want to get a peek at homes in this neighborhood, you're in luck.  Check out this 1855, single family, 2nd Empire style home on Pleasant street.  It is listed by Pamela Chmielinski of Southeby's International Realty with an asking price of $529,000.

For more info, see the multiple listing service description
Also for sale is this 1710 former post office which has 4 units.  It is offered by Susan Hurley, Kinlin Grover Real Estate for $462,900.

For more info, see the multiple listing service description

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Open House this Saturday - Historic Home in Monument Beach

Hi everyone,

You are welcome to stop by this Saturday, I'll be doing an open house in Monument Beach in Bourne.  This is a wonderful turn of the century home - very open and bright.  I'll be there from 11 AM to 1 PM (yes, with cookies).

Link to Listing info

Directions:  Route 28 to Clay Pond Road which becomes Beach. #48 on left.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's in YOUR backyard?

Craig Chartier, David Hassler,
Alden and Emily Chartier
After seeing the archeological dig at the Autumn Gathering at the Nye Homestead, I was curious to find out what lies lurking under the grass in my own back yard.  I contacted Craig Chartier of Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project in New Bedford who had performed the dig at the Nye Homestead.

Craig marked out a 1 meter square test pit fairly close to the back of the house.  I was hoping he would find physical evidence that the house dates to the late 1820's or early 1830's.  I live in Jarvesville which is a charming historic neighborhood of homes where workers of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory settled in the 1800's after the factory opened.  

Sandwich's assessment records date many of these homes to about 1857.  Huh? 1857!  The factory was built in 1825 and the B & S glass factory was incorporated in 1826.  So where did all the factory workers sleep until 1857?  Could be that the town's records reflect the date of the earliest map showing many of the homes, 1857.  In applying for the historical marker program that the Sandwich Historical Commission sponsors, I had dated the house to circa 1827.

Ok, so back to the hole in my backyard....

Turns out that we were right!  Craig, with the help of his trusty helpers, Alden and Emily, found broken chards of ceramics, porcelain and other pottery that dated back to the late 1820's or early 1830's.  They also found the remains of a cow, but lets not dwell on that.

Craig also helped identify many chards and objects that we've been digging up in our backyard when planting the petunias.  If you live in this neighborhood, you know that you can't garden for 5 minutes without turning up some piece of the past in the soil.

If you're wondering what you may have hiding beneath the grass, give Craig a call, and please, let me know what you turn up!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Moonlight Masquerade helps raise funds for Sandwich Realtors Scholarship Fund

The Sandwich Realtors are hosting their annual Moonlight Masquarade which raises funds for the Sandwich Realtors scholarship fund.  Each year students applying for the $3,000 scholarship research a historic property in Sandwich and present it in the format of their choice.  Copies of their presentations are submitted to the town historian and are kept in the Sandwich library.  What a fantastic way to promote interest in the history of our town and its architectural heritage while helping local students! Please join us for a fun evening for a wonderful cause.  More information is below.  For tickets, you may contact the real estate companies below or send me an email and I'll make sure you get tickets.

Sandwich REALTORS Scholarship Fund
Moonlight Masquerade
Friday, October 28, 2011
7:30 PM

incredible GIFTS and SERVICES
Your future read by LOCAL MEDIUMS
Tips Accepted
Costumes Encouraged!
Prizes for Three Best of Pack!


Tickets $25 per person


Century 21 Cape Sails

Beach Realty

Decoy Realty

Destination Real Estate

Jack Conway & Company

Kalstar Realty Servies

Kinlin-Grover Real Estate

Sand Dollar Realty

Today Real Estate

Village Realty Company

William Raveis


contact a SRSF commitee member of your choice.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Preservation Organizations and Resources for Historic Homeowners

Below are links to organizations that provide information, education and resources for historic homeowners, or historic homeowner wanabees :)

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation:
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation promotes the preservation, enhancement, and sustainable use of our nation’s diverse historic resources, and advises the President and the Congress on national historic preservation policy.

Cape Cod Commission, Demolition Delay Network:
List of historic buildings at risk of demolition

Articles on Historic Preservation including info on preserving historic windows and how to insulate an older home.

Cape Cod Historical Association:
Maintains a list of Museums, Historical Societies and Libraries of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket along with an events calendar of interesting and entertaining things to do in the area.

Historic New England
Historic New England is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation. It was founded in 1910 to preserve and present the cultural and architectural heritage of New England, from historic properties to humble necessities, from art and artifacts to gardens and furniture.

Massachusetts Historical Commission:
Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) was established by the legislature in 1963* to identify, evaluate, and protect important historical and archaeological assets of the Commonwealth.

National Park Service, Preservation Briefs:
Preservation Briefs provide guidance on preserving, rehabilitating and restoring historic buildings.

National Register of Historic Places:
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Private, non profit promoting historic preservation.  Includes great resource section for homeowners.

Periodical resource for restoring old houses

The Old House Network is a nonprofit educational gathering of old house lovers. We teach people how to care for houses built before 1950 by hosting workshops and seminars.

Ideas and advice for old house enthusiasts

Preservation Directory is an online resource for historic preservation, building restoration and cultural resource management in the United States & Canada

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn Gathering at the Nye Homestead, East Sandwich, MA

The annual Autumn Gathering at the Nye Homestead in East Sandwich was held today, delighting visitors with a variety of costumed interpreters, hearth cooking and an archeological dig.  The Nye Homestead is the oldest house in East Sandwich and dates form the early 1670's.

Jack Rickman re-enacting the part of Dr. Samuel Nye, a colonial ship's surgeon, treated visitors with a plethora of surgical instruments and stories.  According to the good doctor, a physician may have been con-scribed into service or he would choose to serve on a ship because the mortality rates of a ship's surgeon were lower than that of a surgeon in the infantry.  Additionally, a doctor would gain valuable surgical experience upon the ship.  While the surgeon would perform amputations and bullet extractions, he would also treat such problems as venereal disease.  Although the array of implements looked daunting, Dr. Nye assured visitors that they are not very different from the tools used today.

Dr. Samuel Nye, re-enacted by
Jack Rickman, holds a
Revolutionary War Surgical instrument

Mary Kennan demonstrates
churning butter

The kitchen welcomed with a merry fire and the scent of Indian pudding, corn bread and roast chicken.  Lynn Cullity dressed in historical garb, prepared an inviting meal in the hearth and bee hive oven.  The process of baking in the beehive oven involves building a fire (scotch pine works well) and feeding that fire for approximately 2 1/2 hours until the oven is good and hot.  Traditionally, the cook tested the temperature of the oven by placing a hand in the oven and counting how many seconds before she would have to remove her hand.  Lynn, using this method, was able to count just above 30 seconds which was the perfect temperature for her tempting Indian pudding.  Lynn says she is not afraid to experiment with receipts in historical cookbooks which are often vague.  Those lucky enough to sample her cooking would agree that her experimentation has certainly paid off!

Lynn Cullity checks on pudding in the bee hive oven

Upstairs, Marguerite Donley explained the process involved in turning flax into linen and demonstrated her skills by spinning wool on an antique spinning wheel.  Visitors were able to view and touch the raw cotton, wool and flax.  Samples of dyed wool show the subtle beauty in natural dyes.

Marguerite explained that the popularity of spinning has waxed and waned.  During the Revolutionary War, without imports from England, spinning fostered a self sufficiency in our new republic.

Rick, a costumed docent dressed as an 1860's
 school teacher, shares the history of the Cedarville School
and library to visitors Leslie, Syndey and Elisabeth.

 One of the museum's docent's, Rick, is dressed as a school teacher from the 1860's.  He regales visitors with the history of the Cedarville one room school house.  An original desk from that schoolhouse stands behind him to the left.

John Cullity and Craig Chartier look at the archeological finds

Craig Chartier and son Alden show
how it's done
Behind the Homestead, archeologist, Craig Chartier of Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project in New Bedford, performs a dig and shares the fascinating results.  Craig, with his wife, Charlene, and son, Alden demonstrated the methodical and careful process of releasing tiny bits of history from the soil.  They uncovered small pieces of broken 18th century creamware and redware as well as chinese porcelain.  Machine cut early 19th century nails and a corner stone for a previous addition (or perhaps a porch) were also uncovered.

The cheery homestead should not be missed.  It is furnished with antiques and interior details that harken from different time periods.  If you missed this year's Autumn Gathering, be sure to visit the museum during their regular in season hours (listed below) or call to make an appointment.  

Once hidden behind sheetrock, the original
 paneling graces the parlor once again
Note the reproduction wallpaper from
Waterhouse wallhangings


upstairs landing

Original desk from Cedarville school

For more information, please visit the Nye Family of America Association's website:


Tue - Sat 12:00 to 4:30pm from June 15th to October 15th, closed Sundays, 
Mondays, and Holidays.

Off season visitors may call to make an appointment:

Receipt against the Plague

Historic cookbooks sometimes included advice and information on everything from child rearing to cleaning and furnishing your home.  Remedies for all sorts of maladies could also be found.

Lynn Cullity shared this recipe from The Art of Cookery by Mrs. Glasse, 1796, in which Mrs. Glasse  includes a receipt (recipe) to "protect from the plague".

Receipt to Protect from the Plague

Take of rue, sage, mint, rosemary, wormwood, and lavender, a handful of each; infuse them together in a gallon of white wine vinegar, put the whole into a stone pot, closely covered up, upon wood ashes for four days, after which draw off (or strain through fine flannel) the liquid, and put it into bottles well corked; and into every quart bottle put a quarter of an once of camphor: with this preparation wash your mouth, and rub your loins and your temples every day; snuff a little up your nostrils when you go into the air, and carry about you a bit of spunge dipped in the same, in order to smell to upon all occasions, especially when you are near any place or person that is infected.

They write, that four malefactors, (who had robbed the infected houses, and murdered the people during the course of the plague,) owned, when they came to the gallows, that they had preserved themselves from the contagion by using the above medicine only:  and that they went the whole time from house to house without any fear of the distemper.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Our Own Snug Fireside by Jane C. Nylander

Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in an early 19th century kitchen?  What are the women cooking?  What are they chatting about?  And what time is dinner anyway?  Nylander helps us to delve into domestic life of the time period between 1760 to 1860.  Through period journals, letters, family account books, advertisements, paintings and illustrations, she tells us a story of a way of life that is all but forgotten.  But leave the rose colored glasses behind.  This book looks at the joys but also the harsh realities of the time.

Accounts of the drudgery of laundry as well as the pleasures of a quilting party give us an intimate glimpse of the day to day life of our foremothers.   This work is enriched with 162 period illustrations showing everything from elegant dinner parties, to pro temperance advertisements.  Its the next best thing to a time machine.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Entertaining Ghost

I remember reading in the Enterprise, not long ago, about owners of historic homes who had seen ghosts.  So, In the spirit of Halloween, please read the following article which appeared in a The Boston Globe, October 28, 1886 about Sandwich's own State Street.  

"The quiet of this village [Sandwich] has been broken of late by the alleged nightly appearance of a ghost. The principal victim and the one who seems to be the most troubled is John Murray, who occupies a tenement in a block on State street. He is a hard-working man, and is not at all particular about having his peaceful slumbers, after a hard day's work, disturbed by mysterious happenings.
Of late a ghostly woman has made frequent visits to his home, it is said. This ghost bursts open the doors, and, entertaining, stands in the middle of the room. The very idea of a ghost was enough to frighten the wits out of Murray. Before he had entirely recovered from his fright the subject would disappear.
Mr. Murray has no recollection of having harmed in any way any one of the fairer sex. Furthermore, he never evinced any desire to become a Spiritualist, and, therefore, cannot understand why his rest should be disturbed.
One evening not long since Mr. Murray sent his wife out to spend the night, probably thinking that the ghostly woman had some message to communicate in private. Still Murray was not courageous enough to remain alone in the house, but sought the company of a few young men, each determined to fathom this mystery if it took all night.
It is currently reported about the town that near midnight Murray heard a slight noise, as if some one was ascending or descending the stairs. The young men, for some reason or other, did not accompany Mr. Murray to the seat of war, but, on the contrary, left for home soon after midnight, having wished Mr. Murray pleasant dreams. Mr. Murray sought consolation in the thought that the long night was half passed, and was well satisfied that it was too late for any woman to be out.
Not long after the young men had left the house the ghost appeared. She was immediately challenged by Murray, whose courage by this time was above par. With the determination that it was as well "to be killed outright as to be scared to death," he sought to unravel this mystery. His efforts were useless, however, as the subject had skipped.
Of course now his friends are too willing to inform him that ghosts had appeared in that house before he had become a resident of Sandwich. The whole affair is causing considerable talk, and people are anxious to know what it is if it isn't a ghost."


Chicken Pie

Taken from the New England Cookbook, 1836

Joint the chickens, and boil them, till nearly tender in water just
sufficient to cover them. Take them up and lay them in a dish, lined
with pie crust, on each layer of the chickens, sprinkle pepper and salt,
put in a little of the liquor that they were boiled in, three or four
slices of pork and a small piece of butter, sprinkle flour over the
whole. Cover it with a nice pie crust, ornament it with pastry cut in
narrow strips. Bake it an hour and a quarter.

Historic House Museums

Many who love historic homes also love to visit restored house museums.  These can provide a wealth of knowledge as well as a ton of fun!  You can't beat viewing period paint colors, wall coverings, furniture and floor treatments while sampling freshly baked bread, just out of the beehive oven.  

The following is a list of historic house museums in and around Cape Cod.  Some are open seasonally, while some have events year round.  Please visit the events tab at the top to see a calendar of upcoming events.


Centerville Historical Museum


Atwood House

Caleb Nickerson House Museum
1827, events throughout the year.


Swift-Daley House
Bowed roof cape, 1741


Falmouth Museums on the Green
2 18th c houses

Highfield Hall


Harlow Old Fort House

Spooner House
1749 (Closed for restoration)

Hedge House


Thornton Burgess Museum
Includes walking tours of historic Sandwich village

Green Briar Nature Center
includes historic jam making kitchen dating from 1903

Hoxie House Museum
1637, Oldest house on the Cape
18 Water St., Sandwich.
Sandwich Chamber of Commerce for more info:

Benjamin Nye Homestead and Museum, East Sandwich
17th century homestead

Wing Fort House


Captain Bangs Hallet House
19th c. sea captain's house

Edward Gorey House

Winslow Crocker House
Yarmouth Port, MA, c1780


This blog is for those who love historic homes.  Whether you own one, or would like to, this site is for you.    You'll find information on historic design, visiting historic home museums, events in and around Cape Cod, historic recipes, local folklore, restoration services and finding that perfect historic home.

I am a realtor, specializing in historic homes, living in Sandwich Massachusetts, the oldest town on Cape Cod.  Here I am surrounded by historic architecture and the incredible natural beauty of this tiny peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic ocean.

Please visit my web site:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hasty Pudding

From The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. Child, 1833

Boil water, a quart, three pints, or two quarts, according to the size of your family;  sift your meal, stir five or six spoonfuls of it thoroughly into a bowl of water;  when the water in the kettle boils, pour into it the contents of the bowl;  stir it well, and let it boil up thick;  put in salt to suit your own taste then stand over the kettle, and sprinkle in mean, handful after handful, stirring it very thoroughly all the time, and letting it boil between whiles.  When it is so thick that you stir it with great difficulty, it is about right.  It takes about half an hour's cooking.  Eat it with milk or molasses.  Either Indian meal or rye meal may be used.  If the system is in a restricted state, nothing can be better than rye hasty pudding and West India molasses.  This diet would save many a one the horrors of dyspepsia.