Sandwich harbormaster

The new Sandwich harbormaster’s building is anchored in function and form

It’s no easy thing to construct a new building at the water’s edge in a historic district in Cape Cod’s oldest town, but Sandwich had dire need for a new harbormaster’s building. A storm in 2015 brought over six inches of water into the old office, which was located at the end of a pier. The damage forced clerical staff to work off site, and the harbormaster and his deputy to work out of their trucks for two months. “The old building was tiny,” says Mick Dunning, who’s been deputy harbormaster since 2015. “We had four of us in a narrow building that was about 10 by 40. It wasn’t very well insulated, and during storms and moon tides the walkway flooded 6 or 8 inches.”

An unusually high tide in January 2018 flooded the old harbormaster’s building—again. Looking down, literally, on the old building, the staff was high and dry in the new building, which opened in late 2016.

The harbormaster’s staff oversees the operation of the Sandwich Marina, which is on the southside of the Cape Cod Canal, close to the canal’s east entrance. The marina has 80 slips, about half of them contracted for commercial purposes by fishing crews and charter boats and the other half rented by recreational boaters. There’s also space for transient boaters to spend a night or two as they pass through the canal on trips up and down the East Coast. The old building is in the middle of the marina, which had its benefits, but at high tide boats that were nearby would block the view of the other side of the marina. The new building, on a bluff at the complex’s edge, offers a commanding view of marina activities. Being close to the water is a necessity for the staff, but also a charcteristic that created some design challenges.