There’s something about living in a cottage. Maybe it’s because small, cozy spaces give such a feeling of comfort and safety. Or the fact that cottages often need less maintenance and care than larger homes. All over the Cape and Islands there are cottages; some built centuries ago by pilgrims seeking refuge, many built later by people simply seeking solace by the sea.
Cape Cod’s original cottages featured small rooms clustered around a large central chimney usually with bedrooms or a sleeping loft on the second floor under sheltering eaves. Built low and close to the ground to save money, heat, and care, many of these cottages—the genesis of the world-famous Cape house vernacular—are still much-loved homes. I first discovered the charms of life in a Cape cottage when I came as a young woman to visit my husband’s grandmother in Centerville.
The first night I climbed the stairs to a bedroom under the eaves, I marveled at the wide pine floors speckled with different colors of paint, at the fireplace with a West Barnstable brick embedded in the hearth, at the warmth and comfort of sleeping close to the sky. In the morning I woke up to the sound of seagulls calling and wondered at the scent that seemed to be coming from a pair of windows beside the bed. Looking out I breathed in the fragrance of New Dawn roses, climbing high over a trellis at the front door. I crawled back beneath old-fashioned cotton sheets worn soft and understood for the first time why my husband’s family treasured this Cape cottage so.
The cottage is our home now and not a day goes by that I don’t think about the people who lived here before us. There is a plaque by our back door about a sea captain, James Bearse, who built the house in 1730. I have heard that the female members of a family named Davis lived here in the early 1900s. The old photo, above, was taken of our house around that time. Some day I hope to uncover the stories of other people who loved this Cape cottage as much as we do.
In this issue, we take you through the lovely Martha’s Vineyard home on our cover, also a cherished cottage, that had its beginnings as a 1950s camp on Lake Tashmoo. The couple, who worked with two designers to remodel the cottage, “desired a place that was comfortable and easy to maintain with all the charming flourishes of a summer lakeside dwelling,” says writer Nancy Berry.
We hope you enjoy our early summer preview of hearth and home on Cape Cod and the Islands!
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
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