Friday, August 14, 2009

Architects & Artists, Past & Present, on the Cape

While walking through the woods beyond Dyer Pond five years ago, Sven and I came upon a structure that had obviously been abandoned by the National Parks Service. The building intrigued us because of its unusual design and the way it seemed to float above Northeast Pond. Treading carefully so as not to fall through the rotting boards, we ventured up to the pane glass windows and peered inside. Sven exclaimed, “How can they let this place deteriorate this way!” I had told him about creation of the National Seashore in 1961 and how homeowners had been given choices. Some had chosen to give up their magnificent homes, often in prime locations, either for cash or after a twenty-five year lease. This house was among the structures that should have been taken down once the 25 years were up. Fortunately, the government did not have the money. The house, designed by Charlie Zehnder and formally known as Kugel/Gips, is now being lovingly restored by architect Peter McMahon and his team, who have completed 50% of the work. Peter was ingenious in his negotiation with the Seashore, and, thanks to his efforts, the Cape Cod Modern House Trust not only exists, but is thriving. The first Modern House tour, August 23, has been sold out for months, but there are still tickets available for the symposium August 22. Read all about it in yesterday’s Globe... That European architects like Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer would come to Wellfleet is not surprising. The Outer Cape has a way of attracting connoisseurs of beauty, artists among them, and often the artists find ways to interpret that beauty in one way or the other. Hundreds of artists make the Cape & Islands their home. A new edition of the Arts & Artisans Trails guide has just been published. Get a copy here.