There are so many memories to be had in a Cape House… These talented locals pay homage to that

Cape Cod Life  /  May 2019 / ,

Writer: Allyson Plessner

Good Things in LIFE:
Home is where your story begins

The unique history of a home—the hopes, dreams, challenges and failures of all who have lived there—is something tangible, captured in the weathered shingles and the aged floorboards of every house. Particularly on the Cape & Islands where historic architecture abounds, a home is something to inspire, to comfort and to celebrate. That is exactly what these talented locals have done—each paying homage, in their own unique ways, to the rich stories and treasured memories that a home has stored away. As the saying goes, “If these walls could talk…”

The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

George Howe Colt, like so many, spent his childhood summers in a Cape house, searching the maze of rooms for the best hide-and-go-seek spots, burying treasures along the iconic Cape shoreline, gazing out across a glittering Buzzards Bay dreaming of pirates and mermaids and occasionally stopping in the kitchen to inspect that evening’s meal.

In his later years, he would sit on the deck with a family of his own, watching his kids create their own adventures. Over five generations, “The Big House,” as it was lovingly referred to, shaped the Colt family as much as they shaped it.

In a beautiful farewell to the home that provided him with so many stories and safeguarded so many memories—from weddings to divorces, heartache to love affairs, milestones, challenges and triumphs—Colt visits his treasured family home one final time, and shows readers everywhere just how sacred a home, especially a Cape home, is to one’s story. Find Colt’s book at Titcomb’s Bookshop.

Shinglefish Cape Cod

Nicole Gelinas creates unique, hand-painted artwork on an unlikely material—cottage shingles. Her “upcycled art” is inspired by nature, positive intention and the dynamic interplay between history and art. Every shingle is different, each with its own story to tell, and Gelinas’ artwork brings those stories to life in the playful, colorful strokes of octopi, vibrant fish and other marine life.

As Gelinas explains it, the shingles she collects have been used for years to protect homes across the Cape & Islands, and now, after decades of weathering, they find new purpose. The stories and vast history of these shingles, written into every time-worn line or divot, make Gelinas’ artwork intriguing, joyful and inspiring. A Truro local, she hopes to send people home with not only a new piece of art, but also positive energy and respect for the storied history of a Cape Cod home. Buy your own shinglefish at Bennett Gallery in Hyannis, DRIFT Home & Gift in Wellfleet, or online at shinglefishcapecod.com

Partner Projects

In celebration of John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday in 2017, the JFK Hyannis Museum commissioned artists across the region to commemorate his legacy using materials salvaged from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port after a remodel. From floorboards to stud nails to shingles, local craftsmen and artists created one-of-a-kind works of art for an auction to benefit the JFK Hyannis Museum Foundation. 

One such artist was Tim Ellis Cole, founder of Partner Projects in Monument Beach. Cole turned historic shingles from the Kennedy Compound into his own tiny masterpieces. His artwork masterfully captured the spirit of the Kennedy’s beloved home, interweaving decades of triumph and turmoil experienced by one of America’s most notable families with soft brush strokes and careful illustrations. Cole’s series of artwork on salvaged shingles is a celebration of American history and a reminder of the importance one home’s history can play on the lives of many. Cole’s work is available at the JFK Hyannis Museum. And, see other work by Cole this summer at the Heritage Museum and Garden’s group exhibit, “Human Nature.”

Allyson Plessner

Allyson Plessner is a former editorial intern for Cape Cod Life and now works for the publication as a staff writer and digital media coordinator. Born in Florida, Allyson has been a lifelong summer resident of the Cape. She is a recent alumna of the College of Charleston, located in Charleston, South Carolina, where she completed bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish. In her free time, Allyson is an avid sailor, beach-goer, and—like her fellow Cape Cod Life colleagues—a dog-lover.