Coastal Calling

A few years ago, I interviewed a woman from Yarmouth whose family has lived on Cape Cod since the 1600s for a story in one of our magazines. She was a salty New Englander who didn’t waste time or words. When I asked her where her family had lived through the centuries as Cape sea captains, farmers, and teachers, she said they all lived as far away from the water as they could get, seeking inland comfort and refuge from Mother Nature’s capricious coastal ways.

Coastal Calling

“Nobody lived near the water in those days,” she said. “All the nice houses were in the villages, away from the wind and the cold water.” As a child in the 1920s, she remembered only venturing to Gray’s Beach for the occasional picnic, clambake, or sailing excursion during the warm summer months. “Most of the year, we wanted to be as far away from the water as possible,” she said. “The only houses on the water were shacks for fisherman—or strange people who wanted to be off by themselves.”

Cape Cod’s residential landscape has changed in the last 100 years. Nowadays, a simple Cape-style house with an ocean view can fetch millions of dollars, mostly depending on its proximity to the water. I was thinking about this as I drove over the bridge from a weekend off-Cape at the end of June. Even though the school season had just ended, Route 6 was a parking lot of cars from Exit 3 all the way to the bridge. It had been a gorgeous weekend—what our Yarmouth friend calls a real “sparkler”—with day after day of temperatures in the high 70s, little wind, and abundant sunshine.

All those people crawling along endured the stress of sitting in a hot car in traffic, probably for hours, just to have their own bit of seaside pleasure for a day, or a couple of hours. Many no doubt own or rent second homes as close to the water as possible.

In this issue, we showcase waterfront living on Cape Cod and the Islands, including a peek at several splendid seaside homes that will be open to the public on Friday, July 19, as part of the Menauhant & More House Tour being held by Falmouth’s Highfield Hall. Well-known Cape Cod author Jaci Conry captures the special charm of this quintessential Cape Cod summer colony, which has remained untouched for nearly a century in her story on page 24.

We also take you to the beautiful seaside home on our cover, designed and built in Chatham by Cape Cod’s award-winning firm Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders.

From start to finish, this issue explores the joys of waterfront living. Whether you are looking for an experienced coastal builder like Ralph Cataldo of Cape Cod’s Cataldo Custom Builders (see the Ralph Cataldo profile in our 24-page Readers Resources section) or dream of having a customized set of Nantucket baskets like those in our By Design feature on Nantucket master weaver Kathleen Myers, this issue will bring the joy of life by the sea home to you.

Happy summer!

Susan Dewey

Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor


Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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