Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 30: Along the Lines

Hatch House, 2007 (architect Jack Hall circa 1952)

"In the late 1930s, on the isolated ‘back shore’ of Wellfleet, a group of self-taught, architecture enthusiasts began building experimental structures based on the early Modern buildings they had seen in Europe. Through mutual friends they invited some of the founders of European Modernism to buy land, build summer homes and settle. Like their local hosts, the recently emigrated Europeans admired the traditional Cape Cod ‘salt boxes’. These ancient houses were simple, functional, owner-built and designed for long winters. The Modernist summer houses were inversions of these, oriented to capture views and breezes, perching lightly on the land. In the three decades that followed, these architects built homes for themselves, their friends and the community of internationally influential artists, writers, and thinkers that took root nearby. Though humble in budget, materials and environmental impact, the Outer Cape’s Modern houses manage to be manifestos of their designers' philosophy and way of living, close to nature, immersed in art and seeking community. The work of these architects and their clients spread around the world. These houses are the physical remnants of this unique convergence...Seven of the Outer Cape’s significant Modern houses are owned by the Cape Cod National Sea Shore and were until recently, slated for demolition. They are deteriorating due to a lack of funding for their maintenance. Five of these seven are on the Massachusetts Historic Commission’s list of historic places." -Cape Cod Modern House Trust

Peter McMahon has been working tirelessly to gather funding and support to save the Modern houses on the Cape. Progress has been made and the Cape Cod Modern House Trust has been formed.

Last summer smudge was fortunate enough to have a residency at the Hatch house, one of the Modernist Houses decaying on the Cape. This house sits right along the line of the National Sea Shore, making its future quite precarious. It is odd to witness the trophy houses popping up on the other side of the line, juxtaposed against this structure's quiet and humble existence.

Modern Cape Cod

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