The words were written in ballpoint pen on a scrap of printer paper and duct-taped to a tree in front of artist Jennifer Morgan’s new house in East Harwich: “This is a disgrace.”
Not exactly the warm, neighborly welcome Morgan was used to from her lifelong visits to Cape Cod. She could have been upset over it or worse, bitter. But that’s not Morgan’s style.
“I taped the sign to the window of my truck and drove around with it for a while,” Morgan laughs while recounting just one of many challenges she encountered in the process of designing and building her own house.
Cape Cod has a rich and storied architectural legacy of which its residents are fiercely proud. Perhaps the writer of the note simply didn’t know what to do when faced with something new, unusual, and wonderfully un-Cape Cod.
Morgan knew from the beginning what she loved and what she wanted. As a painter, she has an appreciation for color, design, and function and is not afraid to be different. She chose a piece of property that many others had passed over, unfazed by a steep hill that was probably regarded as unbuildable. Trading in cedar shingles for galvanized steel and concrete for wide pine floors, she created a special haven that is equal doses sustainability, simplicity, and style.
From the road, the house appears to be an unassuming modular rectangle with a front window, door, and roof. It is perched on the side of a steep hill and beyond is an overgrown field full of grasses, wildflowers, and wildlife. For those who venture beyond the metal façade, a colorful, rich, interior world awaits. Full of stories as detailed as the collections of drawings and artifacts on her walls, the house stands as a testament to Morgan’s artistic vision, commitment to environmental sensitivity—and belief in the value of simple hard work.