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Captain’s Compound | Gold winner • Excellence in Remodeling – Whole House | Photo by Eric Roth

Architect Patrick Ahearn reimagines Captain’s Compound as a Gatsby-esque Cape Cod cottage

Jay Gatsby has grown in stature from a tragic character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic book, The Great Gatsby, to a symbol of wealth and the fulfillment of the American dream. High school students across the country continue to read the 1925 novel. In 2013, Leonardo DiCaprio updated the screen persona of Gatsby that Robert Redford had owned for more than a generation. While many details of the story have eroded in the popular consciousness, Gatsby still represents luxury and style. In early December 2015, Town and Country magazine trumpeted, “The question on every social New Yorker’s lips this weekend was ‘Are you going to The Gatsby Party?’”

One truly has “made it” in America when one attains Gatsby status. The same holds true for any home that channels this cultural legend. Captain’s Compound, in Osterville, is such a dwelling; its distinction as Massachusetts’ number one luxury home sale in 2014, when it fetched $13 million, only serves to solidify its position among such rarified company.

Award-winning architect Patrick Ahearn, FAIA, has given Captain’s Compound, situated on the shore of Nantucket Sound, the Gatsby treatment in a massive renovation project that has both preserved the integrity of the original, historic home and reimagined it for the 21st century. “The goal,” says Ahearn, “was to create a grand summer cottage that could have been designed in the 1920s in New England.” With the help of E.J. Jaxtimer Builder, Inc. he did so in a way that is both luxurious and understated.

Captain’s Compound begins with a long, elegant drive through a woodland lot. Ahearn worked with the Jaxtimer landscaping team to realign the driveway with the center of the home, creating, in his words, “a sense of anticipation of the house.” And where the original drive ended in a small, paved loop, the new approach, says Ahearn, is “almost a Gatsby-esque experience that resolves in the motor court.” One could easily imagine the appearance of the cream-colored Rolls Royce Silver Ghost that would signify the legendary character’s arrival.

Creating a screen between the car park and the grounds is a privet hedge, trimmed to about the height of an automobile’s hood. The living border seems to frame and accentuate the geometric balance of the home, in stark contrast to the original landscaping, which obscured most of the house’s left flank. Just before the motor court, visitors encounter the boathouse on the right, which, Ahearn says, “reads as a gatehouse when you come down the drive.” This outlying structure also received a thorough facelift along with a literal lift and realignment that creates a sharper sense of overall symmetry within the compound.