Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vive La Victorian!

From Houzz tour - Eoin Lyons Interiors

Why do Victorian's get such a bad rap?

For a long time, the housing market has viewed Victorians as being stuffy dark places where ghosts and mice like to dwell.  Oh sure, there have been the hold outs, the purists who love a curvy Queen Anne Victorian parlor and whose mantra is "more is more"!  But for many, Victorians spell formality and fussiness.  But that attitude is changing, as evidenced by some recent tours on Houzz and Apartment Therapy featuring Victorians in a fresh modern light. 

Houzz tours:

From Houzz tour - Eoin Lyons Interiors
These homes are graced with high ceilings, deep moldings and warm wood floors - a perfect foil for contemporary lighting and furnishings.  They transport the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Stripped of the layers of competing patterns, the Victorian's woodwork becomes the star.
From Houzz look book - Lisa K Tharp Design
Apartment Therapy tour: Nyakinyua & Ivan's Bohemian ChicVictorian Home
I lived in a Queen Anne Victorian as a child and I still remember the intricate molded plaster that decorated the dining room in a fanciful collection of fruit and cherubs.  That house sparked my passion for historic homes.

Here on the cape, our historic homes date as far back as the 17th century, but there are pockets of Victorians.  The Cape became a popular tourist destination during the Victorian period.  You may be familiar with the charming painted cottages on Martha's Vineyard.

Here is one of our listings for a Victorian period house in Harwich Port that is for sale at $699,900, well below appraised value:
232 Bank Street, Harwich Port

232 Bank Street, Harwich Port

Would you like to see other Victorian homes on the Cape? click here

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tales and Ales event - Historic New England

I'm obsessed with old houses.  There, I've said it.  Obsessed.  So when my husband and I decided that it was high time to take a little vacation for ourselves and get away, of course I went right on over to Historic New England's website to see what events were coming up.

I noticed one that had all the necessary elements for fun - old house, good food, micro brewed ales, stories from the past, music, and fellowship with other old house nuts.  Here is the description of "Tales and Ales" from Historic New England's website:

Tales and Ales, October 18

Saturday, October 18, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. 
Swett-Ilsley House, 4 High Road, Newbury, Mass.

$35 Historic New England members, $60 nonmembers

In the late seventeenth century, Swett-Ilsley House served the town as Swett’s Tavern, one of three watering holes in Newbury. The huge fireplace and massive beams make a perfect backdrop for an evening of historic fun. Join your friends around a rough tavern table and enjoy traditional local brews from Ipswich Ale Brewery and a hearty tavern dinner while listening to true tales of sword fights, scandalous romances, and bloody brawls, all from Newbury’s storied past. Participants must be over 21.
Swett-Isley House, 4 High Road,, Newbury, MA

How could I resist that?  It was a fantastic evening - which easily explains why it always sells out.  The Swett-Ilsley House is the perfect backdrop for the night's festivities.  Ipswich Ale Brewery made a couple of kegs of beer especially for the event.  The musicians sat in front of the massive fireplace and the room was dimly lit with twinkle lights.  We ate our meal in the adjoining room at long tables with benches.  The dinner was served "family style". Umm, that is if your family eats with their hands.  In 17th century tradition, the serving platter had a knife stuck in the roasted chicken.  Guests carved off a portion of meat, flicked some roasted vegetables onto their own plate and dug right in.  It was warm and delicious - the roasted vegetables were beautifully seasoned with herbs.  The ale deliciously complementing the savory flavors.  While we ate, we were entertained with lively 17th century folk music.  Our table mates traded stories of their favorite Historic New England museums and shared other events that we should try.

Each of us were given little slips of paper with printed testimonies from late 17th century local court cases.  These became our windows to the past.  We were the actors in a 340 year old real life play, orchestrated by Historic New England's  illustrious North Shore regional Mgr, Bethany Groff.  If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall at a 17th century court hearing (and let's face it, who hasn't?), then this is your event.

If your idea of our puritan settlers is that they were staid and boring - you'll be in for a surprise.

Here is the little slip of paper that I read:

Soooo, that's what the kids called it in those days "he gave me apples".

The evening ended with a very rousing rendition of "Wild Rover" complete with hand clapping and foot stomping, and a lovely ballad.

And did you notice that the price for all this wonder was only $35 per person!! (for members)
Historic New England runs many fun events throughout the year and is a treasure trove of information for New England heritage.  They own 36 house museums and have over 110,000 objects.  For membership info or to learn more, visit their website.

While we were in the area, David and I drooled over the other homes in the area and visited the farmer's market, some antique shops and of course, the Clam Box.
I'll leave you with this eye candy:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rent a 17th C. Cape in Historic Sandwich village for 2 weeks this Summer!

If you've ever wanted to live in a restored 17th century cape, now is your chance.  This jaw droppingly gorgeous property is available to rent for just 2 weeks this summer.  You can pick which two weeks you prefer, but act quickly, because it is only available for one 2 week period!  Having 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, the home sleeps 8.

family room - open to kitchen
The house, dating to 1690, is beautifully situated on a high knoll overlooking Shawme Pond in the heart of historic Sandwich Village.  From this location, you can explore the shops, restaurants and cafe's of Sandwich village - all within an easy walk.  Other attractions within walking distance are the Sandwich Glass Museum, Hoxie House Museum, Dexter Grist Mill, Heritage Museums and Gardens and the famed Sandwich boardwalk where you can swim, kayak and soak in the sun.  A short drive will take you to Sandy Neck or Scusset beach, The Thornton Burgess Green Briar Nature Center with its wildflower garden and historic jam kitchen, Nye House Museum and the Wing Fort House.  And don't forget, this year Sandwich is celebrating its 375th birthday.  There are a myriad of events planned and you would have a front row seat.
Dexter Grist Mill

On the northside of Cape Cod, you can drive along lovely route 6A, the longest continuous historic district in the nation from Sandwich to Brewster.  The drive will take you through the charming villages of Barnstable and Yarmouth Port.

Offered for $2,800 per week for a two week period ($5,600) plus a refundable $300 security deposit.  Sorry - no pets and no smoking.  To rent this one of a kind property, contact Lisa at or call 774-994-1337.

view from family room into kitchen

large eat in kitchen

Living room with fireplace - game room beyond

Living room with dining area

game room and library

View from 1st floor bedroom to sitting room

1st floor bedroom

Sitting room in front of house with views of pond.

2nd floor bath with clawfoot tub/shower

2nd floor full bathroom
Master bedroom with gas fireplace

Master bedroom with attached full bath

Upstairs bedroom with twin beds

View from front sitting area overlooking pond

Friday, March 21, 2014

Colonial Revival Harwich Port house for $1

Another home that is being offered for $1, but must be moved, has recently come to my attention.  This 1937 home is a quintessential pre world war II, colonial revival.  It is located at 52 Pleasant St., Harwich Port, MA.  Looking at its charming front facade, I can just hear Patty Page crooning "Old Cape Cod".

5 bay colonial revival cape cod cottage with 3 bedrooms 1 1/2 baths

Picture this home with a rose trellis, window boxes and a curl of smoke rising from its chimney - it really couldn't get any sweeter!  The home has original 12 over 12 windows, wide horizontal board wainscoting, 6 panel solid wood doors, period brass hardware, built ins and wood floors.  It needs a complete restoration but has very good bones.

25 Colonial Way,  a Harwich Port
Royal Barry Wills designed home,
sold last April
This colonial revival style was popularized by renowned architect Royal Barry Wills whose name is synonymous with Cape Cod houses.  The Royal Barry Wills architectural firm, run by Wills' son, still exists.  I have not been able to confirm whether this home was designed by Royal Barry Wills, though there are surviving examples of his work in this area.  Just last April, another Harwich Port Royal Barry Wills cape sold for $344,900.  That house, dating to 1949, was also in very original, but unrestored condition.  If 25 Pleasant is not a Wills design, its style was certainly influenced by his work.

Illustration from "Houses for Homemakers" by Royal Barry Wills
Illustration from "Houses for Homemakers" by Royal Barry Wills

Illustration from "Houses for Homemakers" by Royal Barry Wills

The home may also have been designed by another well respected local architect of the time, John Barnard.  His designs of the 1930's evoked a similar sentimental yearning for earlier times.

fluted pilaster entry surround with
 6 panel solid wood door

6 panel solid wood interior doors
Colonial revival style fireplace mantel
Dining room built in cupboard
typical of the era
built in storage under the eaves with original brass hardware
built in cupboard under eaves in bedroom
glass doorknobs with brass
 escutcheon plates
brass hardware on entry door

If you have interest in saving this home, please contact me:

The owners would like the home moved by the end of May but are willing to work with a prospective buyer on timing.  Please act quickly or this treasure will be gone.