Reimagining History on
Pleasant Bay

Patrick Ahearn and Platemark Design conceive a narrative of familiar and fantastical in redesigning this Chatham home

Dawn erupts in a lava flow of oranges, pinks, reds and purples across Pleasant Bay. Viewed from the western shore, the colors pour across this watery canvas, igniting the morning. Gray shadows in the slight undulations of waves appear as reflections of the gossamer altocumulus clouds. According to the old saw, sailors should take warning on a day like this—the early warmth and high humidity portend later thunderstorms—but in these ephemeral moments as the moon clings to the vanishing night, as the sun showers the eastern shoreline and the outline of Fox Hill Island with its tangerine, fuchsia, magenta and lilac hues, caution can wait. If there’s a looming price for these minutes soaked in such a palette, then let the rains pour, let the winds squall.

There are safer places to build houses than the coastline, and Chatham is no stranger to shifting sands and mercurial weather. The possibilities of hurricanes landing in late summer always linger, and the near-certainties of nor’easters in the winter underline the risk. Yet courageous homes stand willing to brave the elements, primarily for their owners to experience the uninterrupted beauty and colors of the sea and heavens. Acclaimed architect Patrick Ahearn, FAIA, recently reimagined such a dwelling in an extensive rebuild of one Pleasant Bay Overlook. Due to conservation codes, the building team was constrained to the footprint of existing buildings on the property, but the finished home encapsulates once distinct structures into a unified family compound.