Photo Essay: Cape Cod Houses

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Spending time on Cape Cod is a rite of passage for Massachusetts residents.  If families in Massachusetts aren’t booking flights to Orlando, chances are they’re booking a week at a house down the Cape.

That wasn’t the case for my Massachusetts-bred family.  Rather than spending our summers vacationing in our home state, we always went camping in New Hampshire.

Sure, I’ve experienced the Cape, but not much.  (And, of course, the glaring gap in my travels is that I’ve never been to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard!)  So when Dave came over from the UK and we decided to road trip down the Cape, it felt like I was discovering it for the first time.

My favorite part?  The houses.

Cape Cod houses all look so much alike!  They’re all on the small side, they have that weathered wooden shingles look, they feature several eaves and gables, and they’re impossibly immaculate, with picture-perfect landscaping.  Even the big ones look small.

From Wikipedia:

Cape Cod cottage is a style of house originating in New England in the 17th century. It is traditionally characterized by a low, broad frame building, generally a story and a half high, with a steep, perfectly pitched roof with end gables, a large central chimney and very little ornamentation. Traditional Cape Cod houses were very simple: symmetrically designed with a central front door surrounded by two multi-paned windows on each side. Homes were designed to withstand the stormy, stark weather of the Massachusetts coast. Modern Cape Cod architecture still draws from colonial designs.

So whenever we drove past an exceptionally pretty Cape Cod house, I had to get a photo.

Here are some of my favorites:

I love the hot pink flowers mixed in with the rhododendrons at this house off Lighthouse Beach in Chatham.  Pure New England!

This house, also in Chatham, overlooked the ocean at a distance — hence, the widow’s walk.  And the omnipresent rhododendron bushes.

I love how this house is set back in its yard, with some actual privacy from the landscaping.  You don’t see that too often.  Doesn’t the tree remind you of Forrest Gump?

There aren’t many large Cape Cod houses, but they’re primarily confined to neighborhoods filled with large houses, like this street off Nauset Beach in Orleans.  (Fortunately, you don’t see a lot of McMansions dwarfing the surrounding tiny houses.)

Oh, and Dave was quick to point out the Welsh flag.  🙂

And finally, a house with a wishing well.  How romantic is that?!

After a few days of driving through these dreamy houses, I was thinking about how nice it would be to have a little cottage down here and spend my summers antique shopping, walking the beaches, and taking care of my perfect, immaculate Cape Cod house.

A dream that will likely never be realized, but it’s nice to think about!

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14 thoughts on “Photo Essay: Cape Cod Houses”

  1. Pretty! It seems like such a peaceful and laid-back place. I’ve always wanted to do an East Coast roadtrip down to Massachussets from Montreal, but having an European blog kind of puts other trips in perspective! One day, I’ll set foot on Martha’s Vineyard. 🙂

  2. While vacationing in New Jersey last year I fell in love with the beach houses there. I loved how there there seemed to be no balance to the design of the houses and that seemingly random windows and balconies came out of all sides of the houses.

  3. Kate, very interesting post. I have heard other people say that their favorite part of the Cape is the houses as well. My family does happen to live in an old-style Cape home, with a modern addition on the back. The Cape is really a unique place and that I sort of take it for granted growing up here. The house next to me does have a well, which when you think about it, is so rare for houses these days. In college, people used to be so surprised that I was actually from the Cape because most people just think of it as a tourist location. But it does support many year round residents, many of them who make their living catering (literally and figuratively) to tourists. The town next to me, Dennis– their year-round population is about 15K but it goes up to 75k just in the summer. A true tourist economy. But, at the same time it makes it difficult to raise a family and find good jobs. The Cape has actually had a big crime rate increases this summer because of drug abusers. Here is a recent article about it in the NY Times:

    Anyways, nice descriptions of the homes and I am glad you enjoyed your time down here. I like that home in Chatham a lot. I noticed Kate’s Seafood on your blog… another really good place is Captain Frosty’s in Dennis. Lobster rolls are really good there!

    1. Tom, thank you for such an insightful comment!

      I had no idea that the Cape was having problems with drug-related crime, but after reading that article, I completely understand why. With its high elderly population, I wonder if Florida is facing similar issues. Personally, I believe that people need to realize that marijuana is no longer the “gateway drug” — prescription drugs are today’s gateway drug. And since marijuana has been decriminalized in Massachusetts now, hopefully the police are putting their resources toward preventing cases like this.

      I’ve actually never spent time in Dennis! I do love lobster rolls…as long as they’re hot with butter!

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