Chatham Seaside Cottages

From left: Seadaisy Cottage, Bayberry Cottage and Ann’s cottage. Photo courtesy of the Wallace family

Chatham Seaside Cottages epitomize the beauty of life on Cape Cod

Isn’t it remarkable how the worst moments in life can lead to the best moments? How there’s always a light at the end of every dark tunnel life presents?

For the Wallaces, one of their worst moments came when they lost their family vacation home in Scituate during the Blizzard of 1978. The ocean swept away the cottage, leaving no trace of where, for 11 years, Ann and Gordon Wallace had watched their three sons grow and play.

Three weeks later, the family came down to the Cape. “We had friends who lived at Ellis Landing in Brewster, and we knew they had a little house for sale over there,” Ann explains, “but we felt we were never going to find anything like we had before.” They could, however, afford this Brewster cottage, so they debated whether to submit an offer. Then, “We went to the Brewster General Store and I picked up The Cape Codder,” Ann recalls, and what she found inside was an ad for a “Family Compound” for sale in Chatham. “We thought, this is a lot more money, but we can rent the two cottages and live in one and make it work.”

Upon arriving at the property on Ridgevale Road, Ann observed the simple nature of the property’s three cottages, built between the mid-1930s and early 1960s. The now mature, resplendent cedar trees were just seedlings at the time, and there wasn’t a stitch of landscaping, just some seagrass dotting Ridgevale Beach. Even so, “We just knew right away this was it,” Ann says. “We were waiting to learn if it was ours, and we went to have dinner with our friends in Brewster, we were all so excited, and our friends wanted to see it. So we came back to Chatham, drove down the road, and I had this feeling—it was like an epiphany: Either I’ll never drive down this road again, or I’ll be driving down this road for the rest of my life.”

Today, Ann is still driving down Ridgevale Road.

The Chatham Seaside Cottages, as they’ve come to be called, have served as a haven, not just for Ann and her family but also for the countless Cape vacationers who’ve stayed there over the last four decades. There is certainly an allure about the cottages themselves—“Seadaisy” and “Bayberry.” The two-bedroom rentals evoke a sense of olde Cape Cod, with simple, quaint furnishings so sweet you’ll think you’ve stepped inside your grandmother’s home. But the pièce de résistance at Chatham Seaside Cottages is the location. Strolling the grounds, it becomes abundantly clear why Ann and her husband were so sure this property was where they wanted to call home.

There are many stunning shorefront properties on Cape Cod, but this site is more than just stunning. The cottages are enveloped in nature. They abut marshland at the mouth of Buck’s Creek, a tidal estuary ideal for kayaking and tide pooling. Beyond the calm waters of the inlet is Ridgevale Beach, with Nantucket Sound stretched out in the distance for as far as the eye can see. Bunnies and various shore and woodland birds dart to and fro in the landscaped front yard—the birds are responsible for spreading much of the seed for the vegetation on the property over the years, like the bittersweet and rose bushes. Tranquility is so omnipresent it stops you in your tracks. How can something be so magical yet so tangible? It’s striking how unassuming the scenery is—it puts into focus all of the simple pleasures of life on the coast.

To Ann, it’s “heaven.” To several visitors, as detailed in entry after entry in the cottages’ guest books, it’s “a dream come true.”

Starting with the early years of owning the cottages, Ann says the same people would come back to stay year after year. Among those people, and one of the first couples to stay at Chatham Seaside Cottages, were two men named Richard and Phil. In 1978, because their first summer season was already booked with rentals, Ann says she and Gordon finally got to enjoy the property for the first time that September. At the same time, Richard and Phil were staying in Seadaisy. Laughing, Ann recalls hearing the men late one night calling for their cat, who they snuck along with them to the cottage, despite a no pets rule at the time.