Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Visiting the Atwood-Higgins House

This morning I visited the Atwood-Higgins house on Bound Brook Island, a part of Wellfleet in the National Seashore, for a guided tour with a volunteer ranger. I have been wanting to take this tour for years, since our house also dates from the early 1700s. The Atwood-Higgins house is set in a hollow not far from the Herring River, now hidden from view by trees. The river was wider when the house was placed there. First the ranger gave us some history, explaining how some of the original pilgrims left Plymouth and came to this part of Cape Cod, then known as "Nauset." There was a one-room school nearby, and a shipyard where at least one schooner was built. When we finally were allowed inside, I was stuck by how similar the house was to ours: same type of cupboards and hardware; wooden planks on some walls; corbelled chimney; wide floor boards. The house was renovated in 1919 by George Higgins and his wife. One of the members of our group had grown up in Wellfleet and remembered how paint was mixed from lead, oil, and yellow ochre from clay, when he was a child in Paine Hollow. Atwood-Higgins house had about 15 layers of paint on it, the ranger said. Those doing the restoration opted for a beige color. Much of the interior woodwork was not painted, especially in the keeping room, about half the size of ours. The tour takes place on a regular basis but it is necessary to sign up through the National Seashore.