Back to the Future

Cape Cod Home  /  Autumn 2022 /

Writer: Chris White / Photographer: Elyssa Cohen 

An iconic home in Truro, built and designed in the 1980s by Charlie Zehnder, finds a new path in the 21st century with the help of architect Carmi Bee and Truro’s Augustus Construction. In 1985, Marty McFly flew back in time and altered the currents of history with the help of his mad scientist pal Doc Brown, a flying DeLorean, and dramatic strokes of good fortune. The action comedy appealed to the sensibilities of an American audience that simultaneously glamorized the past—especially the “simple times” of the 1950s—and longed for innovations that would launch society into a new age of fashion, fabulous wealth, and technology. Michael J. Fox as a wiser-than-his-years teenager was at the height of his powers and seemed to epitomize a certain all-American “thinking kid” who was neither quite a jock, nor a nerd, but a resourceful type who was shrewd enough to solve problems that physics had never before encountered. 1985 was an excellent year for movies with some classics in the running for Oscars—Amadeus would win—and some genre goliaths such as Out of Africa, The Breakfast Club, and Beverly Hills Cop, but Back to the Future won the battle at the box office, beating Rambo by $43 million. Perhaps more impressive than its profits, the movie has slipped into popular consciousness over the years as its themes continue to resonate in what would have seemed like very futuristic times to moviegoers of 1985. Its title has lifted off and become an expression that journalists will nostalgically employ across a variety of situations, and as retro-80s styles and fashions have popped up like the collars of alligator shirts, the themes of the story continue to surface in music, film, art, and even design. Such is the case with one modernist house in Truro, for which a recent renovation and addition required time-travel to both…

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Chris White

Chris White is a frequent writer for Cape Cod Life Publications and has written on topics ranging from the history of Smith’s Tavern on Wellfleet Island to the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria off Nantucket. Chris also teaches English at Tabor Academy in Marion.