“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.
Fletcher bought the floater 14 years ago for a song. And although the home’s price was right, its condition wasn’t. Deferred maintenance over the years had left the house in a terrible state. Fletcher and his partner, Michael Walden, began researching old houses in order to best restore the old structure, speaking to local historian George Bryant in the process. It needed everything—a new foundation, plumbing, wiring, roofing, a new kitchen, and baths. Its staircase was also treacherously steep and needed to be replaced. And the chimneys needed to be rebuilt.