“They call this a floater,” says Stephen Fletcher, executive vice president of Skinner, Inc., and owner of the circa 1815 three-quarter Cape house located in Provincetown. “It came over from Long Point.” Fletcher is referring to the tip of Cape Cod, where a thriving community—centered on a salt works—was established and more than 200 houses and a school were built between 1815 and 1850. Once the salt works went out of commission, families would float their homes across the harbor over to Provincetown’s West End. Today, many of these houses wear ceramic blue plaques depicting a house being floated on a boat. A bit of a history buff, Fletcher is well-versed in most things old. For 30 years he has been a chief auctioneer and appraiser for Skinner, Inc., heading up the company’s Americana Department—he is an expert on early American furniture and folk art. He appears regularly on PBS’s Antiques Road Show, making or breaking a participant’s dream of owning a priceless heirloom or national treasure. And he also sits on the board of trustees for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
Fletcher not only works in the antiques field, but he also lives it. His weekend house has become the perfect backdrop for his personal collection of antiques and artwork.
A career with computer giant IBM brought John Crawford and his wife Suzy around the world, with assignments in exhilarating cities including Paris and Tokyo, but when they realized retirement wasn’t too far off, they had to consider where they would plant roots. “For a number of years we started taking our regular vacations to places people retire to down South, here and there, and each time we’d come and see my folks here on the Cape,” explains John. “Then we said, ‘You know? We find the Cape to be the place we like the most.’” Read more…
“In 2010, the kitchen is the heart of every home,” says Rebecca Brown, Design Manager for Classic Kitchens and Interiors of Hyannis, the kitchen design and installation company of choice for the highly regarded Cape Cod architecture and construction firm Polhemus Savery DaSilva (PSD). The firm’s President, Peter Polhemus, says “For more than ten years we have engaged Classic Kitchens and Interiors for the majority of our projects. They are our preferred kitchen company because they provide consistently high quality design, products, installation, and service. As a firm that insists on working with consultants that share our commitment to thoughtful design and well-crafted construction, we find the relationship with Classic serves both us and our clients very well.” Read more…
It’s not that interior designer Lindsey Miller has anything against traditional baby colors. It’s just that there are so many other gorgeous shades to dip into—rich reds, burnt umbers, deep browns—that bring interiors to a new eye-pleasing level, even if the room is Baby’s.
“I’m a huge fan of color,” Miller says. “When people think of a nursery, they think it’s pink or blue, male or female. They think it has to be all baby style, toys everywhere. But it can go beyond that, while still being a baby’s room.” Miller has three big reasons to know: she is owner of Lindsey Dann Miller LLC, a design firm in Los Angeles; cofounder of Former Furniture, an online marketplace of previously owned and new designer pieces; and the mother of Max, born in June. Read more…
The small and unassuming exterior might lead one to think that the Samuel Fessenden House is just another historical home. But once inside the circa 1840 house on Main Street in Sandwich, a treasure trove of antiques and wonderful collections abound—and come Christmas, those treasures are on full display. Read more…
The Captain Ezra Nye house has been much more than a lovely home in its more than 180 years on Main Street in Sandwich. It has served as a dentist office, a boarding house, a law office, and a bed and breakfast over the years. Still, its essential inviting character has always endured. Last year, during the Sandwich Holly Days Home Tour, homeowners Ellen and George Park opened this historic home to let visitors experience that inviting character firsthand. Read more…
Pat Thrasher of East Falmouth first began crafting all-natural soap 12 years ago all for love and the fun of it. Today, her hobby has become her business: Cape Cod Soaps, inspired by the beautiful colors and divine smells of Cape Cod, are making appearances in wedding favors and gift shops all over the Cape & Islands. The bars of soap can be found in a scent for every fancy, including Hydrangea, cranberry, and ocean breeze. All are made with completely pure natural ingredients. Teak’s Tea Tree Dog Shampoo, named for Pat’s daughter’s Brittany Spaniel, is the newest addition to her line of products. The company also offers several theme gift baskets, and will work with you to create your own unique basket. For more information about Cape Cod Soap, visit www.capecodsoap.com.
A stroll through the Wellfleet Community Garden yields an array of sights. Mark Gabriel’s smiling Buddha, surrounded by pink and orange portulacas, seems to bless a barrel of herbs. Across the hay-strewn aisle, a tuba overflows with purple petunias. Across the way, a bit further up, horticultural therapist Bodil Drescher has planted raised beds constructed by her daughter, Nette. Maura Condrick opted for planting her crops in geometric patterns, with a bright red chair against the fence as a focal point. “We’ve been surprised at the creativity of the gardeners,” Wellfleetian Celeste Makely says. “People are expressing themselves in their own way. It’s kind of quirky. It’s Wellfleet.”
Makely, the garden’s project director, envisioned creating a community garden in Wellfleet where people from all walks of life could gather to grow vegetables and make friends. As she had her husband, John, spread the word, they found themselves surrounded by a circle of hands, all eager to dig into the soil of the football-field sized garden in front of the Council on Aging on Old Kings Highway. The garden is a fun place to be, full of imaginative decorations and 32 cleverly designed plots. The individual gardens are as varied as the folks who tend them. “When I garden, I garden with my ancestors, and when I cook, I cook with my mother,” says Makely, who began gardening with her father in a World War II Victory Garden. “It’s a nice feeling.”
Wellfleet’s first community garden in 50 years came to fruition when the town’s board of selectmen approved the Makelys’ proposal to use land in front of the Council on Aging facility for that purpose. “We started with a half-acre of scrub pines,” says Makely, whose enthusiasm and drive have steered this year-long effort. She was assisted by several local businesses: Dennis Murphy of Murphy-Nickerson, Inc. cleared land; Bartlett Tree conducted soil testing; Capello Well Drilling drilled a well; and many others donated their services to make the project a reality. “This is a community effort,” Makely says. “A lot of people donated their time, tools, and money to make this happen.”
The 32 gardeners lease their plots; a 20-by-20-foot plot is $30 a year, 10-by-20-foot plots are $15. One plot is set aside for seniors who want to garden from throughout the community and from the Council on Aging (COA). Gardeners planted blueberry bushes so those inside the COA building facing the garden have a pleasant view; soon gooseberry bushes will be planted. All of the available plots filled up immediately, and now there is a waiting list. The group is largely self-governed; five gardeners called the “Cabbage Heads” mediate disputes that arise. Some gardeners supplement their income with the vegetables they’ve grown. Others donate their surplus to the Mustard Seed Kitchen, the Wellfleet Food Bank, and the COA’s Iris’s Café.
Some plots have traditional rows while others plant in geometric patterns. One gardener sculpted a raised flower with petals that soon will bloom. Cedar and Ennie Cole, created a meandering path of log steps surrounded by sedum with driftwood adding vertical interest. Their scarecrow with a mannequin’s head stands guard with outstretched arms.
Further up the path, a gaggle of plastic dinosaurs circle Rich Sobol’s herbs. Sharyn Lindsay and her son, Caleb Potter, have built an elaborate driftwood arbor leading to a rustic bench surrounded by begonias and foxglove. A landscape designer, Sharon’s garden is a mix of flowers, lettuces, cabbages, tomatoes, and herbs. A Grecian urn filled with nasturtium and purple salvia flanks the bench while a stone birdbath beckons feathered visitors.
Claudia and Bruce Drucker have made a planter from a clam rake filled with moss, green beans, and thyme. Their garden has a criss-cross pattern with 48 varieties of plants. “I try to plant unusual varieties and different colors of plants,” said Claudia. She has yellow and purple peppers and tomatoes, golden beets, candy-striped radishes, and purple carrots. All the flowers are edible including nasturtium, calendula, pansies, and corn flowers. Claudia also has lovage, a perennial that she says “tastes like celery and smells beautiful.”
Gardening is an activity that benefits people of all interests and abilities. For more than 45 years, former horticultural therapist Bodil Drescher has helped the physically and mentally disabled garden. “Anybody can garden, you just need the right tools,” says Bodil. Her garden paths are wider for better accessibility and she has constructed special tools to accommodate the disabilities of her gardeners, She hopes to establish gardening programs at the senior centers in Wellfleet and Eastham.
This beautiful garden is generating a lot of interest in the community. The Makelys have given tours to people from all over who are interested in community gardening. The gardeners partnered with Wellfleet Preservation Hall for its June garden tour. As a master gardener, Celeste and other experienced gardeners are available to help beginners.
Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the Wellfleet Community Garden for the Makelys has been the good friends they’ve made along the way. “This is a people place,” said Celeste. “You walk down that aisle and people are happy. Gardeners are nice people.”
The invitation was unexpected and intriguing: Did I want to spend the night in a dune shack just yards away from the Atlantic in Provincetown?
For those unversed in Cape Cod lore, the dune shacks are the bare-bones dwellings that run along a two-mile stretch of dune ridges and valleys between Race Point in Provincetown and High Head in North Truro. The earliest shacks housed sailors who shipwrecked during the 19th century on the treacherous Peaked Hill Bars just off the beach. Others were constructed to provide a getaway from nearby bustling Provincetown center. Today, 19 rough-hewn shacks remain, and like the rest of the Provincetown community, they are steeped in history, culture, stories, and legend. Read more…
Antiques shops are spread far and wide over the country, but there may be no other spot more gilt-edged for antiquing than Cape Cod’s Route 6A. The road itself—also called the Old King’s Highway—is a treasure, lined with historic houses, ancient cemeteries, stone walls, views of salt marshes—and antique shops. Almost all of these shops are open year-round, but particularly in the off-season, it’s wise to call ahead.
Your day starts in Sagamore at Just Like Home Antiques & Gifts (Route 6A and Westdale Park, 508-888-2033), where owner Peg Wilson has filled her charming shop with collections of antiques and gifts with a vintage look, such as a line of Emma Bridgewater tableware. In a back room is a stunning example of Wilson’s specialty, vintage beds in brass and iron: a lovely 1920s restored iron bed ($600), made up with vintage linens.
Traveling east, Route 6A reveals more of classic Cape Cod, including a historic graveyard and grand houses. As you enter Sandwich, turn left on Tupper Road for the Sandwich Auction House (15 Tupper Road, 508-888-1926, www.sandwichauction.com). Sandwich Auction House holds several auctions a month; the monthly oriental rug auction is a highlight. One summer auction featured a stunning Tabriz carpet measuring just over 8 feet by 12 feet. Owner Duncan Gray opens the house for viewing.
Route 6A through Sandwich is a beautiful drive even if antiques aren’t on your mind. Watch for a glimpse of Sandy Neck Beach as you meander through this stretch of Cape Cod’s oldest town, founded in 1639. At Seaside Antiques (124 Route 6A, 508-888-1912), owner Sandra Tompkins considers her wares—antiques and treasures that are not old enough for the antique label—as one way to go green. Why buy a new blanket chest when you can purchase a gorgeous 1800s lift-top chest ($450)? Amble by the back door, where you’ll see a pretty view of two white church steeples rising above the treetops.
Further into Sandwich is the multifaceted Sandwich Antiques Center (131 Route 6A, 508-833-3600, www.sandwichantiquescenter.com). With 110 dealers represented, the goods here cover a wide swath of culture and history. Customers often ask to see the primitive furniture and Sandwich glass. But owner Peter Smith has charming décor items as well, including a charming 1800s portrait of a plump baby ($875). If you’re there on the hour, you’ll be treated to a chorus of chimes from the more than 50 grandfather clocks spread throughout the shop.
Further down the road in Sandwich is Maypop Antiques (161 Route 6A, 508-888-1230). Owner Paul Opacki has operated this shop—a converted gas station washed in white, plumped with banks of flowers, and worth a look on its own merits—for 25 years. Opacki’s spacious store is lined with tables of glass, china, jewelry, and furniture, including a late-18th century two-drawer tavern table in gorgeous cherry ($1,800).
Sandwich is the perfect home for a lovely shop operated by Toni Rencricca, her husband Nicholas, and daughter Nicole, who started out as collectors. Today they operate Antoinette’s Antiques & Collectibles in East Sandwich (350 Route 6A, 774-413-9799), which features several elegant rooms full of items, including ephemera, glass, jewelry, and coins. Many people stop in to see their collection of cameos, some carved from shell ($40-$850). One entire room is devoted to books and paper.
Edythe Davinis has set up her shop, Edythe & Co. Antiques (433 Route 6A, 508-888-8843) in stylish vignettes, so that customers can better picture how her pieces will fit in their own homes. She loves decorative goods and garden antiques with a little quirkiness. One show-stopper is a shell-encrusted art deco table with a floral design she found at a Paris flea market ($1,950). The store has a sister shop, Trade Secret Antiques, in Osterville.
Look carefully, or you may miss Horsefeathers Antiques (454 Route 6A, 508-888-5298; call first), and that would be a shame. Owner Jeanne Gresham’s confection is filled with antique and vintage baby clothing and handkerchiefs. One adorable example is a peach-colored cotton netting dress with stunning embroidery, circa 1930s ($110). Parents and grandparents will be utterly charmed.
The towns along Route 6A slip from one to the next and before you know it, you’re in West Barnstable. West Barnstable Antiques (625 Route 6A, 508-362-2047) is operated by Walter Munday, a font of knowledge for his fascinating collection of antiques. The eye goes immediately to shelves of navigation and surveying instruments. Before you leave, be sure to ask Walter to demonstrate the Polyphon Euphonion, a German-made music box that is almost four feet high and plays music in outstanding fashion.
At famous West Barnstable Table, just of Route 6A on Meetinghouse Way, the work of more than 14 craftspersons is represented in galleries full of newly crafted antique-style furniture and folk art items, housed in a large barn and an antique cranberry sorting building. This Cape Cod gem (2454 Meetinghouse Way, 508-362-2676) of a shop has been in business since 1970, providing custom order, beautifully designed tables, chairs, and other furniture that are sure to become treasured antiques for generations.
Route 6A takes a jog left at the intersection with Route 132 and continues its stretch of historic homes, bed-and-breakfast inns, and galleries. It’s the perfect time to pause, because the center of Barnstable Village is just ahead, an excellent place to stop for lunch or coffee. When you continue on your way east, notice the flower-banked stone walls, many of them pieces of Cape Cod history.
At Route 149, turn right for a one-of-a-kind antiques shop. The Barnstable Stove Shop (2481 Route 149, 508-362-9913), situated between the ancient cemetery and the old train depot, is owner Doug Pacheco’s incredible collection of stoves. Among the stoves are other antiques for sale, including tools, tiles, and stained glass windows. His must-see collection of restored antique kitchen ranges and parlor stoves includes a restored 1891 coal/wood stove embellished with a figurine of a Greco-Roman woman, angel heads, cherubs, and serpents, and set on a nickel claw-foot base stand ($8,500).
Eldred’s Auction House (1483 Route 6A, East Dennis, 508-385-3116, www.eldreds.com), set behind an antique sea captain’s house, is a Cape Cod tradition operated for over 60 years by the Eldred family. Almost all the art auctions feature antique artworks. Josh Eldred mentioned an auction last summer that featured a Ralph Cahoon painting, “A Shocking Incident at The Boston Public Garden” (total price: $207,000), which set a world record auction price for Cahoon’s work. Auction items may be previewed the day before every auction.
East Dennis Antiques (1514 Route 6A, 508-385-7651, www.eastdennisantiques.com) is situated in one of the many antique homes that line Route 6A. The shop is filled with fine furniture, paintings, and specialties such as antique frames and nautical items. One beauty is a “sailor’s silk,” a Japanese embroidered silk piece that commemorates a young sailor’s tour with the U.S. Navy ($2,500).
Set in a 1780s half-Cape, Spyglass Antiques (2257 Main Street, Brewster, 508-896-4423), focuses on 18th and 19th century maritime antiques and nautical instruments, such as antique barometers, telescopes, sailor-made folk art, and early American furniture and paintings. One item near and dear to owner Brad Finch is a turn-of- the-century ship’s figurehead of a mermaid set on a custom-made base ($10,500). As one of the oldest nautical shops on the Cape, Spyglass is a perfect place to cap your day.