The rich history of Chatham comes alive in this home… See for yourself!
Thus the compound remained through subsequent generations until the mid-1800s, when Leonard and Ruth Nickerson, staunch abolitionists, became active in the Underground Railroad. Fugitive slaves would arrive by schooner in Chatham, and Leonard and Ruth would house them for a time before arranging transport to larger hubs within the system, such as New Bedford and Fall River. They added a bunk room in the shellfishing shack, and sometimes men would stay to help out with the oystering business, putting away some money before resuming their journeys to freedom.
“People can’t tell our antique renovations from new construction; you can’t tell a 300-year-old house from one that we built five years ago.”
Over the ensuing century, the size of the family ebbed and flowed. At one point, the compound expanded to eight separate buildings, but vicious storms claimed a few of these. In the aftermath of the hurricane of 1938, the family rebuilt in a way that connected the boat shed directly with the main house. Sons and daughters answered calls to adventure out West and of enterprise in cities; in 1972, the Nickersons decided to sell everything to a land developer. The developer subdivided most of the 27-acre property but kept the main house, the adjoined boat shed, and the shellfishing shack/bunk room. He updated the home to fit the disco sensibilities of the time, and so it remained—somewhat classic, somewhat garish—until 2016, when the new owners contracted with Ahearn, Whitla Brothers Builders of Chatham, and Platemark Design of Boston to “lovingly restore” the property and to fulfill its original potential.
Or so one is meant to believe—something akin to the above story, anyway.
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