Crowning Achievement

Cape Cod Home  /  Autumn 2023 /

Writer: Julie Craven Wagner / Photographer: Mike Crane 

Ralph Cataldo assembles his team of professionals to craft a special home overlooking Racing Beach.

There are so many amazing views and expanses of jaw-dropping scenery across the Cape and Islands, yet for anyone who has been to Racing Beach in Falmouth, a quiet enclave set along a shoreline curve on Buzzards Bay, the experience is memorable enough to stick for a lifetime. Maybe it is the expanse of one of the most intriguing bodies of water around—Buzzards Bay with its never-ending maritime traffic that mixes everything from trans-continental marine vessels to local children learning their first terminology and technique of the ancient practice of sailing a simple boat. Or perhaps the perfect crescent of pristine sand that runs along the curve of beach that makes up a tranquil cove. Then there is the imaginative legend that credits the name of the beach to the Native Americans who purportedly conducted horse races along the strip of beach.

Regardless of how or why you discover and ultimately fall in love with this part of Cape Cod’s storied coastline, the fortunate homeowners who welcome the view of Racing Beach into their homes and daily lives as Richard Rodgers wrote in his song from The Sound of Music, “Must have done something good.”  

For homeowners Peggy and Terry whose good friends from the Philadelphia area built a house up the coast, just a bit farther north, the Cape seemed to be a perfect place to spend their retirement. “We would visit Richard and Bonnie and every time we got home, Terry and I would look at each other and say, ‘Why did we come home? I could have stayed on the Cape forever,’” Peggy recalls. The search for the right home, for the rest of their lives, officially began.

“I received a notification that a new listing in Sippewissett was listed, and I immediately called Richard and asked him to swing by and check it out the next time he was on the Cape,” Peggy explains. “He said, ‘I’m here now. Hold on and I’ll call you right back.’ Well, he called from the site and said two words, ‘Buy it.’ There was an older Cape on the property that really didn’t take full advantage of what could be here and when Richard walked around to the back side of the house, he saw that view.” That view she describes is one of the best in the entire association. A great expanse of Buzzards Bay stretches across to Fairhaven, Mattapoisett and Marion with the Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse standing watch in the center. Since the home is positioned at the bottom of the crescent of beach, the comforting embrace it makes around the rolling waves all the way north to Woodneck Beach, makes the decision to sit and enjoy the view; or venture down the steps and enjoy the protected calm waters; or linger along the shoreline in pursuit of beach treasure a very difficult one indeed.

Peggy and Terry’s friend Richard Rossello, recently completed a very special home (in fact it was featured in the 2023 Cape Cod HOME Annual issue), and the team that successfully created his home was a natural choice for this couple as well. Philadelphia architect Peter Zimmerman designed the home on a smaller more modest scale than the Rossello’s, yet made certain to include everything the couple felt they needed for their vision of their Cape Cod retirement home. Cataldo Custom Builders, along with their team of professionals including landscape architect Dan Solien of Horiuchi and Solien, landscape contractor Francisco Tavares, Inc., and Hingham’s Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet set about crafting a home of distinction that maximized the site, the view and every last inch of the modest lot.

“The site was a real challenge in the way it just dropped off,” Ralph Cataldo, founder of Cataldo Custom Builders explains. “We brought in tons of fill to level off the back which allowed Dan’s (Solien) plan to really shine with the mitigation plantings. Now it feels as though it has always been there and as your view extends, the backyard subliminally does as well.

“But the truly difficult part I am so proud of our team accomplishing was the coordination and planning. Since we had so much work to do on the water side, and since the lot isn’t huge, we built the home in two stages. We first built the home, and left the breezeway and the garage for the final stage of construction since we needed to keep the side of the lot accessible for the heavy equipment. We poured foundations twice on this project. It was all a very choreographed effort by every person on the team.”

Cataldo’s explanation of the thoughtful and deliberate planning that went into this project is evident when considering the very effective use of every last inch of the home’s footprint. The couple chose to repeat the enjoyment found in their friend’s screened-in porch and asked Zimmerman to include one for them. A three-sided porch, appropriately scaled for their home, and accessed from the breezeway as well as the dining room, offers the perfect place to enjoy the hotter days of the summer as well as the chilly sunsets of the shoulder seasons. Retractable screens that function as invisible walls when down, offer unobstructed views of the bay as their construction is absent of any structural elements. 

Inside, defining the personality of the home is the fine work of interior designer Mary Hastings, principal of Mary Hastings Interiors. Hastings, who has worked with this couple and the Rossellos over the years at both their Pennsylvania residences and now on the Cape, has applied a deft touch to create a home that feels as though it has a honed sense of history. As a nod to the generational homes of the area, Hastings has subtly imbued layers of detail, that almost seem as though items have lovingly been handed down through the family—all without feeling heavy, stuffy or dated. A bit of whimsy makes an appearance in places like the fish rug that runs down the back hallway; and the adjacent half bath’s wallcovering with an over-scaled sails and rigging pattern. The synergy between Hastings and the homeowners is evident as their repartee bounces between choices of fabrics, art, and furniture; and updates about family, vacations and recent activities.

All in all, this home feels timeless, warm, and grounded in the new perch it occupies as it overlooks the length of Buzzards Bay. For Ralph Cataldo, the project is bittersweet as he acknowledges it is more than likely the last fine home he will have built in a career that has given him so much. Anyone who knows Ralph knows that his enthusiastic discussions always revolve around the people—the teams, the clients, the unexpected individuals who have had an impact on the successful business he has built over decades. One of those individuals, Rob Geggatt joined Cataldo’s company a few years ago as a project manager with an agreement to purchase the firm down the road. Geggatt was instrumental in bringing this home to a close, during a difficult time dealing with a pandemic and unimaginable supply chain issues. Yet, in the way Cataldo and his company have built a reputation upon, the home was delivered and the homeowners couldn’t be happier. The choice of Geggatt was just one more great decision in Cataldo’s long history of good business, so the Cataldo brand name is ensured a solid future. The deficit for all of us, will be missing Cataldo’s quick, easy smile, boundless energy, and ability to gather a team that is known to be exceptional. Bravo team for a truly crowning achievement! 

Julie Craven Wagner is the editor of Cape Cod HOME.

Julie Craven Wagner

Julie Craven Wagner began her experience with Cape Cod Life in 2010 when she joined the sales team after 10 years of working with local businesses on the Cape and Islands with WMVY. In addition to sales, she is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. Growing up on the Outer Cape has given her a unique perspective of life on Cape Cod, from tip to bridge, and that is reflected in her appreciation and presentation of stories found within the pages of our publications. Julie lives in North Falmouth with her husband, Eric, and their yellow lab, Enzo. When she finds free time, she enjoys her Cape Cod life sailing on Buzzards Bay, spending time on the beach in Wellfleet, or exploring Martha’s Vineyard.