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Cape Cod The Cape Cod Cottage

An aged Cape Cod house is the first preference of every inlander who dreams of establishing a home here. Either a Half-House, Three-Quarter House, or Whole-House—the older the better. For these are the three definite designs of Cape Cod native architecture, founded about 300 years ago. They are easily identified: the Half-House with two windows at one side of the front door; the Three-Quarter House, a single window at one side and two windows at the other side of the door; the Whole-House, two windows at either side of the door.

Simple, a special charm of attractiveness and entirely practical. If the search is in vain, then a true replica must serve as next best. It seems to be as much a part of existence here as the sighing pines, the salt breezes, the lonely ocean and the homely native lore.

Some intriguing information on the Cape Cod Cottage is found in a paper written by Rev. Alfred Ray Atwood, sweet potato pioneer and delightful preacher of the soil, for an Old Home Week celebration at East Dennis. He relates that the earlier, primitive dwellings were built by fisherman and farmers.

About 1700, more experienced builders began to produce houses whose pleasing proportions made them look like natural objects in a gently rolling landscape. These experienced builders reproduced in part, the cottages of Cornwall and Devon, their English homeland.

The early settlers built their houses to face due South. The “great room,” or parlor, was in the Southeast corner. A fireplace was the sole source of heat, hence the warmth of the sun was far more important in those long, ago times. For example, there was old Dr. Abner Hursey, who estimated the degrees of cold by blankets, he reckoned the weather was anywhere from one to ten blankets cold. “And every window was a sun dial, and often the only timekeeper.”

The family had its beginnings in the Half-House. An ell (one or more) would be built on as the family increased. The Whole-House was the completed stage of housing, ample for the large family and representing a state of opulence.

The pioneer builders let their staunch religious faith be known by a cross-design in the front door panelling. More rare is the design with two cross bars, one at the center and one at the top the “true Christian door.” And for covering the house exterior, clapboards or cedar shingles were chosen, the latter reputed to be a better protection against the boisterous elements.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 04/12/06
Categories: HistoryHouses
Keywords: architecture, cape cod house, history


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