Wednesday, November 28, 2012

18th Century Half Cape for sale in S. Yarmouth, offered at $479,000

Historic Half Cape near Bass River in South Yarmouth for sale
It was a treat to preview this gorgeous, 18th century, half cape home which sits on a lovely half acre, walking distance to Bass River and Nantucket Sound beaches.  Amazingly, the home began its life on the island of Nantucket and was later floated over to Cape Cod.  For historic home enthusiasts, this house is the holy grail.  The owners, Nancy and Garry, who are experienced in restoring antique homes, have a keen eye for detail.  Each and every 9 over 6 window was removed, stripped back to bare wood, and reglazed and painted, preserving the charming wavy glass.  Wide pine floors anchor the rooms in a deep warm finish.

Large open dining area and living room

And the kitchen, Oh, the enchanting kitchen!  Nancy lovingly scraped years of paint off a corner cupboard, exposing the charming original blue finish.  It sits proudly on the new marble counter where it provides stylish, ample storage.

Original corner cupboard in kitchen

Proof that a small kitchen can prompt drooling...

modern conveniences meet historic charm in the kitchen

This cozy home includes 4 bedrooms, and 2 1/2 baths.  The master suite is a private oasis on the second floor.

light streaming into the window at the bottom of the stairs

spacious master bedroom suite under the eaves
Each of the bathrooms include special touches like this brown transferware bowl and oil rubbed bronze faucet.

horizontal boards add charm to the bathroom

Another original find, the antique scrubbed pine
bureau has been repurposed in the master bath
For more details, or to schedule a showing, please contact:  Lisa Hassler, Decoy Realty,, 774-994-1337.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Houses that go bump in the night

You've taken a listing on an old house that looks like the Adams Family just moved out and is rumored to have more ghosts than fleas on a dog.  You're showing the house to a prospective buyer who asks if the house is haunted....  Well, what's a real estate agent to do?

In real estate parlance, this property would be called "Psychologically impacted", which under Massachusetts law, an agent is not required to disclose.  The term includes properties that are impacted due to the previous owner having certain illnesses, if the property was the scene of a murder or suicide, or if the property is said to have had "parapsychological or supernatural activity".  Seriously.   I'm not kidding. Ghosts.

However, a real estate agent must answer questions about a property honestly to the best of his/her knowledge.  So if you want to know if Lizzie Borden took an ax..., you need to ask.

At least in Massachusetts.  Other states may have other rules.

And you may want to ask.  Maybe you don't believe in ghosts, and it really doesn't matter to you whether the previous owner claimed to have seen dear deceased Uncle Henry periodically climb the stairs at 2 AM.  However...... it might matter to others who know the house's story.  It might matter enough to negatively effect the value of the home.  According to a study done by Wright State University's James Larsen and Joseph Coleman, a psychologically impacted property will take 50 percent longer to sell and will sell for an average of 2.4 percent less than comparable homes.

Not to mention the lack of privacy from gawkers.  The Lutz family claimed that they had experiences paranormal activity in their home which inspired the Amityville Horror book and movie.  When they sold the house, the new owners won a lawsuit against the Lutz', claiming that the book and movie instigated a parade of sightseers, invading their privacy.

But maybe tourism is what you are after.  The Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, MA is an operating Bed and Breakfast and conducts tours of the home to eager ghost hunters.

Here are some local B&B's that are said to have strange happenings:

The Orleans Inn:  Is it the ghost of Hannah from the days when the Inn was a brothel that lingers on?  The Inn was the subject of a paranormal investigation by TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society.  See the article in the Cape Cod Times, 4/20/10.

The Penny House Inn (Eastham):  Included in the book Haunted Houses of Cape Cod, this Inn has a Halloween special package.

The Dillingham House, Sandwich:  This Inn has long been thought of as being haunted.  Perhaps it is Branch Dillingham who committed suicide there in 1813 or one of his children.

The Beechwood Inn, Barnstable:  Read about the Mischievous Lady who haunts this Inn in an article, The Lady Vanishes, published by the Boston Globe, October 31, 2007.

While you are staying at a haunted Inn, you can join the popular haunted walking tour with the Cape and Islands Paranormal Society in Barnstable.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Save this (small) Historic House!

1 Harbor Street, Sandwich, MA on beautiful Cape Cod is listed by David Holt at Today Real Estate and is on the market for $130,000.  At just 948 square feet, it can certainly qualify as "small". Unfortunately,  too often, in historic real estate, size matters.  When a large saltbox home that graces the village green falls into disrepair and is threatened with demolition there are cries from preservation groups to save it.  But what happens to the humble cottage - the dwelling house of the fisherman or the factory worker?  The land is often deemed of greater value than the home itself.

When Old Sturbridge Village was seeking a small house to add to its collection - they had such a hard time finding one that they ended up building one.  This, despite that fact that houses under 800 square feet once made up a quarter of our housing stock in the early 19th century.

Small House at Old Sturbridge Village, MA
Small houses are an important part of the fabric of our history.  Some communities have recognized their value and have protected them with charming results.  A visit to 'Sconset on Nantucket greets you with a collection of small fisherman cottages dripping with roses.

Rose covered Sconset cottage

This home on Harbor Street in Sandwich has a long history and was once used as a dwelling house for workers in the Boston and Sandwich glass factory.  Neighborhood folklore hints at an even longer history for this house - it is rumored to have been moved here in the early 18th century.  The exposed beams with bark on them in the kitchen suggests an early date for this home.  It has much to offer in a great neighborhood, walking distance to ice cream, restaurants, shops and the beach.  No doubt - it needs work, but it CAN be saved.  And at $130,000, there is room for restoration costs.

1 Harbor Street, Sandwich MA

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Evening Gala "Hats off to Historic Preservation" 9/29/12 5:30 to 7:30 PM

Briggs-McDermott House
From website of Bourne Historical Society
Join preservation minded folks at an evening gala to be held on Saturday, September 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Briggs-McDermott House, 22 Sandwich Road, Bourne Village.

The Briggs-McDermott House is on the National Register of Historic Places.  This Greek Revival-style house has been restored and furnished to reflect the period from 1840 to 1910.  The ceiling of the music room was painted in 1890 by famed marine artist and Bourne resident Charles Raleigh.

Eighteen models mingling with guests will be wearing vintage hats from the collection of the late Letitia Coppi of Sagamore.

Fine wines, craft beers and hors d'oeuvres included.  Music will be provided by the members of the Cape Cod Conservatory.

Tickets, $25 each, are limited and must be reserved in advance.

Early reservations are recommended:  508-563-6245 or 508-274-3440.

Sponsors of this event include Cisco Brewers of Nantucket, Portside Liquors of Pocasset and Cape Cod Five Bank Charitable Foundation Trust.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Deacon Elijah Perry Homestead in Bourne MA offered for sale

The oldest continuously occupied home in Bourne, the Deacon Elijah Perry Homestead, is being offered for sale, for $365,000 by Decoy Realty, Ltd. This home was actually built for a young Caleb Perry and his bride in 1723. It originally consisted of 2 front rooms, a borning room, and a kitchen with large cooking hearth and bake oven.

Ell on back of home
The home remained in the Perry family for 5 generations until Ezekial Thatcher purchased the property in 1830.  He held it for only 2 years before selling it to father and son, Perez and Seth Burgess.  Mr. Burgess brought his young wife to the home and added another kitchen with fireplace and brick oven.  When he brought his mother to live there, he added an ell with 4 additional rooms.

Today the house is a charming 10 room rambling cottage with 4 fireplaces and 2 stairways. It sits on 1.61 acres and backs up to conservation land which helps it retain its feel of yesteryear. A rare opportunity to own an historic gem on Cape Cod.  For more information on this home:  MLS Listing sheet

beautiful mantel, original doors and latches

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gardening with Native Plants to Enhance your Historic Cape Cod Home

This charming cottage garden complements the simple lines of a traditional Cape
Designed by Chris Kolb, Ark Gardens, photo courtesy of Ark Gardens
Historic homes are inherently "green", preserving the embodied energy of the building materials used to construct them, while keeping those materials out of the landfill.  What better way to complement your historic home than with an equally environmentally sensitive garden?  On the Cape, while we are blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, we are also mindful of how fragile our environment is.  With a shallow aquifer, it just makes sense to incorporate native species that are drought as well as disease tolerant.

The cottage garden above is planted in what Chris Kolb, of Ark Gardens, refers to as a patchwork garden.  Like a patchwork quilt, it incorporates contrasting colors and textures in rectangular blocks of plantings.  The result is a charming cottage style garden which beautifully complements the simple cape style home.

Cape Cod Rambling Rose roof trellis
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Close up of Cape Cod Rambling Rose Covered Roof Trellis
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Inkberry, Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens
Ark Gardens in Sandwich specializes in creating gardens that respect the earth with a playful mix of traditional plants and native species.  Some plants arrived here with the colonists and have proven their suitability to Cape Cod's sandy soils and sea breezes.  Plants like lilac and Virginia roses are happy companions to native plants like Inkberry, Golden Aster and Lupine.   The Cape Cod Commission posts a wonderful list of native species suitable for the cultivated cape cod landscape.

Even the ubiquitous hydrangea has a native variety, Hydrangea arborescens,  that is better suited to the local growing conditions.

Healthy Hydrangea arborescens next to a struggling non-native Hydrangea macrocarpa under dry oak shade
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'.
Pink variety called 'Bella Anna'
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Virginia Rose is native, pretty and low maintenance
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens
Chris explains that part of a garden's success stems from the attention that he gives to establishing site lines that complement the existing architecture.  Ark Gardens philosophy is to approach an existing garden with a conservative eye, retaining, pruning or replanting established plantings when possible.

Plants can also serve multiple purposes.  Oregano, quince, savory and blueberries, while being attractive have the added benefit of adding edible leaves, bulbs or fruits to the garden.  Visit Ark Gardens website for more information and for a coupon good for a free design sketch and consultation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Period Rooms Inspire Feathering your Historic Nest

Jaffrey Room in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts
At this time of year, I usually glance around the house and think (alla Bette Davis) "What a dump!"  This leads me to CVS for some magazines to peruse.  But if I'm looking for some inspiration with a decidedly "historic home" flavor, I need to set my sites elsewhere.  This is where house museums come to the rescue.  In the spring, many Cape Cod house museums are dusting off the cobwebs around ye ol' doorway.  Since most are open seasonally, this is the perfect time to plan your visit.

For a list of historic house museums, click on the tab above, or to see upcoming events, click on the events tab.  Another resource to view period rooms online is the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in DC.  On their website, you can view virtual tours of period rooms from a wide range of time periods - Pilgrims to Victorians.  The rooms represent 31 different States. Many of the early american rooms are "colonial revival" style.  I like to challenge myself to identify the time period before I read the description below the virtual tour.

If you are heading into Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts has eight period rooms in the new Art of the Americas Wing.

Brown-Pearl Hall in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts - Period Rooms
Another online resource is the Historic American Building Survey which was done courtesy of the "New Deal" to record our country's quickly diminishing historic buildings.  The Cape Cod homes, as well as others across the country, that were photographed, inside and out, could provide hours of entertainment for an old home enthusiast.  And who knows.... you might see your own house there!

Photo from Historic American Building Survey
Photo from Historic American Building Survey

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Women's Worlds, the Art and Life of Mary Ellen Best 1809-1891 by Caroline Davidson

Self portrait of the artist
I stumbled upon this book when I was searching for representations of early 19th century interiors in art.  If your home was built in the first half of the 19th century, this book is a gold mine!  Mary Ellen Best was an English artist who lived from 1809-1891.  This book shows 140 full color pictures of her paintings of domestic interiors and streetscapes.  Many of the interiors are middle to upper class homes, while some have more humble origins.

Note the slipcovers and pillows on the sofa


Ms. Best slavishly copies the details of the wallpaper, carpets, artwork, drapery and even china in the houses of her friends and relatives or of the hotels that she stayed at when traveling.  Some of my favorite paintings showed the kitchens, from homey English ones to the squeaky clean kitchens of the Netherlands.  No detail escapes her notice - right down to the table settings and crumb cloths.

The author, Caroline Davidson, follows Ms. Best chronologically through her life and many travels. She enriches the illustrations with commentary about the artist's life as well as the details that are to be found in the watercolors.

Women's Worlds, The Art and Life of Mary Ellen Best 1809-1891, Caroline Davidson, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York c. 1985

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Open House Sunday April 29th, Historic Home in Harwich, MA

If you like open houses, this weekend you'll be like a kid in a candy store.  The National Association of Realtors is hosting its 3rd annual nationwide Open House.

I'll be holding an open house for my new listing at 280 Chatham Road, Harwich, MA on Sunday from 1-3 PM.  This home, the Captain Samuel Eldridge House, was built in 1825. With 4 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths, it retains many of its original architectural features and is set on 2 acres of open meadow and woodland.

Just a mile from Nantucket Sound beaches and a short drive to shops and restaurants.  Offered at $319,000.  For more information about the history of this lovely home, visit the homeowner's website.

And don't forget to stop by for a peak and some light refreshments on Sunday.