Page 1

No. 10

the DWELLINGS ISSUE September 2015

The Essence of Living Locally www.tellnewengland.com


- A Magazine for New England -


A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR


Dear Readers, A dwelling is a powerful place. Our homes and the spaces where we spend our precious hours each day inspire us, fill us with warmth, and provide a place of comfort. As Maya Angelou said, “I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.� We all aim to create home in our space where we reside, whether temporary or permanent, and take great pride and detail in doing so. I for one can speak to the influence a dwelling has on our hearts and minds. Having moved recently, our home has been an utter disaster. The impact of a negative space has changed who we are, and with each painting of a wall and placement of a photo comes a great sense of relief, accomplishment, and comfort. The spaces we choose to surround ourselves with are a true form of personal expression. Each dwelling reflects the many painstaking and personal decisions that were made in crafting it, whether the space is a home, a workspace, or just a casual place to visit. In this issue our goal is to share a few of these special places that our fellow New Englanders hold dear. It is in these dwellings that they have built their lives, their careers, and their many passions. On behalf of the t.e.l.l. New England team,

Mandi Tompkins, Managing Editor


10. THE WILD LAND O F FA I RY H O U S E S WORDS BY MANDI TOMPKINS PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENN BAKOS ILLUSTRATION BY ASHLEY HERRIN 18. MEET THE MAKER P L O U G H G AT E C R E A M E R Y WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY EMILY NICHOLS 32. LITTLE RIVER LIGHTHOUSE WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHELLE MARTIN 40. C U LT I VAT I N G P L A C E S : H O M E A LTA R S WORDS BY DIANA LIMBACH LEMPEL PHOTOGRAPHS BY MERAL AGISH


table of contents:

48. FROM SEED TO STEM PHOTOGRAPHS BY GABBY RIGGIERI WORDS BY ASHLEY HERRIN 58. VERTICAL LIVING WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENN BAKOS

70. CAPE COD MODERN HOME TRUST WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENN BAKOS


THE WILD LAND OF FAIRY HOUSES WORDS BY MANDI TOMPKINS PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENN BAKOS AND MANDI TOMPKINS ILLUSTRATION BY ASHLEY HERRIN


- 10 -

The coast of Maine is a magical and eerie place, where cliffs plunge into the cold Atlantic and isolated islands dot the coastline. Fog often permeates the coast, hanging over cliffs and beaches, and even along wooded trails – the perfect setting for one’s eyes to play tricks and the imagination to run wild. Folklore pours from the Maine coast like the rain in June, eccentric storytellers weaving their narrative and sharing tales from bygone eras. It’s not totally clear where many of the stories came from, what with time (and the occasional late night drinking) clouding memories. Ghost stories and supernatural tales have been crafted, and then twisted and turned over the years, but the tradition of storytelling has remained true. And it continues on each summer as new generations of children are initiated into this culture of folklore. Growing up during the summer on a small island off the coast of Boothbay Harbor, I was first exposed to these traditions as a very young child. According to my parents (the most trusted source in my young life), the island where we lived was a popular stop over for fairies during their travels. Their wings would be tired from the long journey through inclement weather and over treacherous terrain. The problem, however, was that they didn’t have a place to stay. Our houses were far too large for and the fairies too shy. No, they couldn’t possibly stay with us - we had to build them a place to rest, said my parents. If we didn’t build them a home, they would stop coming to our magical little island. It didn’t take much more convincing than that.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 11 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 14 -

into the forest Each summer as the season started we would trudge into Fairy Forest – an actual place on our small island – to find a perfectly serene location to build our fairy friends a home. We spent hours searching the woods and beaches for building materials, tirelessly building tiny, intricate facades, ensuring the most comfortable of accommodations. When done we would stand back to admire our work, and then go off hunting through the woods to see if we could find other houses. Unfortunately, as I grew older I became wise to my parents tactics. I realized one day - although I have no specific memory of the moment - that fairies did not actually reside in our well-crafted homes each summer. I quietly stepped away from the tradition and allowed for other younger children to take my place as architect to the fairies. This tradition is not unique to the island where I grew up. Fairies need many places to rest on their long journeys, and so this tradition has spread from Monhegan Island to Mackworth Island and beyond. To keep the magic of this tradition alive we all need to help build these architectural wonders, so we invite our fellow New Englanders to spread the tale and encourage children to participate in this imaginative celebration of New England folklore.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 16 -

Fairy Forest - as seen above and right - is filled with the imaginative creations of the island’s visitors. These days, crafting a fairy house of your own has become a typical Maine summer tradition.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 17 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


how to: build a fairy house

1 2

FIND YOUR LOCATION! AN OLD MOSSY STUMP MAKES FOR A SUPERB FOUNDATION, AS IT IS SOMEWHAT SOFT AND PLIABLE.

FIND YOUR MATERIALS! SEARCH THE LANDSCAPE FOR THE BITS AND PIECES THAT BRING YOUR HOME TO LIFE. STICKS MAKE GREAT WINDOWS FRAMES, SEA GLASS CAN BE USED FOR WINDOWPANES, A PERFECTLY SIZED PIECE OF DRIFTWOOD COULD MAKE AN EXCELLENT DOOR, AND SMALL PEBBLES FROM THE BEACH A NICE FRONT WALKWAY. ATTACH SMALL TUFTS OF MOSS TO STICKS AND DRIVE THEM INTO THE GROUND. VOILA - TREES AND BUSHES!

3

NOW IT’S TIME TO BUILD! ASSEMBLE ALL OF YOUR CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS INTO A TINY HOME BUILT FOR A FAIRY.


- 20 -

MEET the maker: PLOUGHGATE CREAMERY T HE R E SU R R E C T ION OF A BU T T E R FA R M Words and photographs by Emily Nichols

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 21 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 22 -

There is a farm in Fayston, Vermont

“I had been making cheese since I was

whose vistas have been featured in many

15,” says Marisa, and “when I began to do

a postcard. The outlook offers sweeping

research I found that little had been

views of the Mad River Valley, including

written on butter-making in a very long

Sugarbush’s two peaks engraved with ski

time. There also didn’t appear to be

trails. This is Bragg Farm where Marisa

much equipment for small to medium

Mauro makes small-batch, cultured

size producers left in the U.S.”. While

butter. Until recently Marisa had no idea

artisan cheese production in New

that she is reviving a hundred-year old

England was thriving, butter was being

tradition on these grounds.

neglected. Marisa drafted a 30-page business plan and entered a pool of thir-

When I first met Marisa she had already

teen candidates vying to take ownership

started and lost her first successful small

of Bragg Farm. Like cream from milk,

business. That operation was Ploughgate

Marisa rose to the top and was awarded

Creamery, located in Vermont’s Northeast

that opportunity in December 2013.

Kingdom. For three years she produced award-winning cheeses* until a fire in

It was only after Marisa had moved to

September 2011 destroyed her facility.

the farm that she met fellow Vermont-

She was 26 years old. Following the loss,

er, Doug Bragg, owner and sugarmaker

Marisa took a break from the dairy indus-

of The Bragg Farm Sugarhouse in East

try and didn’t have plans to return.

Montpelier. Doug is the great, great grandson of Azro and Anna Bragg, the

Enter Bragg Farm. Marisa was waitress-

first in a long line of Braggs to own the

ing when a friend notified her that the

Fayston property (and bestowers of the

Vermont Land Trust had purchased an

farm’s namesake). It turns out Azro and

historic property in Fayston. They would

Anna also made butter, and lots of it.

resell it for its agricultural value to the

Carefully preserved letters from Bragg

entrepreneur with the best plan. Marisa

family members tell of butter that was

visited the property and was immedi-

hand-churned from the milk of forty

ately inspired to apply. Resurrecting her

cows and transported to Boston by way

cheese operation would have been the

of wagon and train. It’s fitting symmetry

obvious choice but she was ready for a

that a century later Marisa’s butter

new challenge.

travels the same route.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 23 -

It was Azro’s and Anna’s son Frank who raised the property’s iconic bank-style barn in 1909. All the lumber for the project was milled from the surrounding forests during the winter of 1908.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


Marisa Mauro operated a succesful small business producing award-winning cheese until a fire destroyed her facility in September 2011. She has since re-established Ploughgate Creamery at Bragg Farm thanks to a can’t-miss opportunity through the Vermont Land Trust.


- 26 -

CHURNING MAGIC Marisa also learned from Doug that it

Resurrecting the farm from a forty-

was Azro’s and Anna’s son Frank who

year hiatus delivered the challenge

raised the property’s iconic bank-style

Marisa sought. Her first year was spent

barn in 1909. All the lumber for the

on construction projects, equipment

project was milled from the surround-

sourcing, and recipe testing. Each pre-

ing forests during the winter of 1908.

sented its own roadblocks. As her ini-

On June 12, 1909 a small army of locals

tial research foretold, little equipment

participated in framing the structure.

matching the scale of her vision was

Since then it has seen intermittent

available. Undeterred, Marisa patched

periods of activity and idle. Until

together a solution. She purchased a

Marisa, Bragg Farm had not been

churn from Wisconsin and a separator

used as a dairy enterprise since the

from Ukraine. The latter she had mod-

early 1970s. Without the Vermont

ified in Maine to meet U.S. standards.

Land Trust’s conservation efforts

By last summer Marisa was up and

changing that trajectory it likely

running, churning out her first butter

would have remained that way.

batches for local farmer’s markets.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 27 -

TOP LEFT Marisa Mauro working in the Ploughgate kitchen at Bragg Farm. It took numerous months of recipe testing, construction projects and equipment sourcing to become an operating business again. BOTTOM Until the Vermont Land Trust’s selection of Marisa and Ploughgate Creamery, Bragg Farm had not been used as a dairy enterprise since the early 1970s.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


UNTIL MARISA, BRAGG FARM HAD NOT BEEN USED AS A DAIRY EN T ERPRISE SINCE T HE E ARLY 1970S. WITHOUT THE VERMONT L A ND T RU S T ’ S CONSE R VAT ION EF FORT S CHANGING T HAT T R A J E C T O R Y, I T L I K E LY W O U L D H AV E R E M A I N E D T H AT WAY.


- 30 -

Cultured butter is tangier and richer

industrial churn does the work of sep-

than your everyday stick butter, with

arating the pale yellow butterfat from

a taste reminiscent of cheese. That’s

the frothy buttermilk. A drain on the

because cultured butter and cheese

underbelly of the churn releases the

share a critical first step – the addition

buttermilk into a five-gallon bucket.

of beneficial live bacteria (the ‘culture’

A mason jar’s worth is saved to make

in cultured butter). All Ploughgate

salad dressings; the rest is fed to

Creamery butter begins as pasteurized

Marisa’s pigs. Finally Marisa folds in

cream from a dairy cooperative in St.

sea salt by hand before wrapping the

Albans, Vermont. To begin a butter

butter into tidy half and one-pound

make, Marisa adds active cultures to

packages. The end result is nutty,

the cream and lets it sit for 48 hours.

grassy, and sweet – simply divine.

This imparts complexity to the aroma, flavor, and texture of the finished

With Marisa at the helm, Bragg Farm

product. After two days it’s time to

and Ploughgate Creamery have revived

churn. Gratefully the days of hand

each other. Our landscape, our com-

churning are long gone, and Marisa’s

munity, and our toast are better for it.

*Lucky for us, Marisa’s cheese-making legacy lives on. Following the 2011 fire, Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro bought the rights to Marisa’s recipe for Willoughby, a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 31 -

stock the kitchen: FORMAGGIO KITCHEN (CAMBRIDGE, MA) RUBINER’S (GREAT BARRINGTON, MA) CITY MARKET (BURLINGTON, VT) FIND PLOUGHGATE CREAMERY ONLINE AT WWW.PLOUGHGATE.COM

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


Little RIVER LIGHT WORDSAND PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHELLE MARTIN


- 34 -

TOP RIGHT Visitors are ferried to Little River Light from the quaint harbor in Cutler, Maine. BOTTOM RIGHT A 12-minute boat ride away, Little River is the most northeastern light station in the U.S.. Here, it is said that you can be the first to greet the dawn of each new day.

Dean and I were coming to the

house was built in the 1800’s and

end of a two week road trip through

housed many families before it was

New England. We had stayed in the

taken over by the United States Coast

mountains, driven through the densest

Guard in 1939 after the US Lighthouse

summer beach towns, and been tempted

Service was abolished and taken over

to cross the border into Canada when we

by the Coast Guard. In the early days

were far enough north in Vermont. New

there were farm animals and a small

England is full of history and that was

pasture on the island to help sustain the

apparent every night that we settled in

families who lived in the house. In the

to a new temporary home for the eve-

late 1990’s the lighthouse was boarded

ning. Log homes, small beach cottages,

up and for many years no one wanted

historic inns, they all had a story to tell.

to take ownership of the property be-

Our last stop of the trip was in Cutler,

cause of the cost to repair it. In 2000

Maine at the Little River Lighthouse.

the American Lighthouse Foundation

We wanted one last truly New England

was granted a historic preservation li-

experience before returning to our small

cense and since then the lighthouse has

apartment in the city.

been fully restored. In 2007 the Friends of Little River Light was formed and

Little River Lighthouse sits on a 15-acre

began allowing for overnight stays on

island overlooking the Bay of Fundy with

the island in the light keepers house.

Canada visible in the distance. The light-

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 35 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


L I T T L E RIVER WAS BY FAR T HE MOST SECLUDED, UNTOUCHED, AND PEACEFUL OF THE HISTORIC PL ACES WE HAD EXPERIENCED. I T WAS WHAT WE HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR THE ENTIRE TIME.


- 38 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 39 -

The entire interior of the house is frozen in the 1950’s and stepping through the front door feels like stepping back in time. The house itself is made up of a living room, kitchen, and three modest sized bedrooms upstairs. There are windows lining the ocean facing side and a small wood-burning stove that was used to heat the house, even in the dead of summer. It is said to be one of the first places in the Eastern United States to see the sunrise and after days of driving through crowded beach towns it felt refreshing to get far north where even in the middle of August you needed a light fleece. It was dusk when we arrived at the quiet harbor in Cutler, Maine. We loaded our bags into a small boat and were ferried across the bay by Terry & Cynthia Rowden, the keepers for the summer who have an extensive history of love and adoration for the lighthouse. Upon arriving at the island there was a wooden walkway that snaked through the dense forest to the other side where the house was. We walked through the trees soaking up the quiet all around us. As we approached the other side of the island we could hear a loud foghorn, ten seconds between each blast. “You’ll get used to it,” Cynthia told us. And she was right, by the next morning you had to listen carefully to pull the sound of the foghorn out of the rhythmic pulse of the waves lapping against the rocky coast. After settling in, the Rowden’s lit a small fire in the wood burning stove and turned in for the evening. Dean and I put on a couple extra layers and headed out to the picnic table to enjoy a simple dinner overlooking the bay. We reflected on the two weeks that had been spent on the road in New England and all the different landscapes, people, and places we had stayed. You can’t escape history in New England and Little River was no exception to this. However, Little River was by far the most secluded, untouched, and peaceful of the historic places we had experienced. It was what we had been looking for the entire time.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


MAKING SPACE FOR STILLNESS WORDSAND BY DIANA LIMBACH LEMPEL PHOTOGRAPHS BY MERAL AGISH


- 44 -

I have a vivid smell-memory from my childhood: it’s a smoky, earthy smell, filling my grandmother’s house in between garlic-and-olive oil dinners. When I was young, she had a Zen center in her basement. I remember seeing her, sitting still and silent, in front of an old oak dresser topped with a fossil and a brass candle holder, a small arrangement of flowers in a bud vase, a thimbleful of water in a small red lacquer vessel, and the snake of incense smoke, lazing past her closed eyes and filling the rest of the house with the smell of quiet. About a year ago, I realized that I was making altars like hers all over my house. It was an instinct, one that I’m sure comes from those years hovering on the threshold of the Zendo, with its quiet and purposeful, almost austere beauty. I collected rocks and driftwood and flowers as I moved through the world, and they would come to rest – often in jumbles – on mantels, dressers, kitchen counters, and in the middle of my dining room table. I thought of them more as landing places for objects, and not a particular kind of space in my house. But when I realized what I was doing, I decided to give this practice more intention. I asked my grandmother what the traditional elements of her altar are, and even though I myself am not Buddhist, I began to incorporate them into my arrangements. And when the little collections-of-stuff-I’dpicked-up became altars, it changed the way I thought about my home: both the building where I live, and the landscape it’s part of. I pay attention to the full moon cycle so that I can let new rocks receive its glow. I scan the sidewalk for small wildflowers that I can bundle up and put in a little vase. I have a new purpose for the small ceramic vessels that I pick up at festivals and open studios. I stop and check to make sure the water hasn’t run out in my little cups around the house. I rotate them seasonally, as new objects take on new meaning in my life, like a rock from a recent beach vacation, a poem or photograph, or the collection of delicate eggshells that I put out every spring.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 45 -

An altar is about making space, but also making time in my life for this kind of presence. I’m not a religious person. I don’t love the idea of “believing in” things. What I love about the altar, both the fact of it and the symbolism within it, is how it makes me aware of the time of year, how it catches my attention with specific memories, and how it makes me feel like I’m incorporating the rhythms and senses of the place where I live into my home. It’s a New England altar, with birch and slate and granite, wild goldenrod in the summer, apples and maple leaves in the fall. In the spring I snip budding plum branches and swap heavy winter ceramics for light, hopeful-for-warmer-weather ones. In winter I forage milkweed pods and double the number of candles. The altar is both a physical space, and a mental space, for reflection and awareness. And when I light the candle, it reminds me to be present, and pay attention, and take the time I need to appreciate my home. This summer I hosted a retreat for a group of friends at my house. We put an altar at the center of our reflections. At the end of the weekend, they told me that they’d never thought about making an altar before, and that it felt like a profound move to them. Just a few simple ideas and a small collection of objects, designed to be the heart of the home and the center of our conversations. We began to talk about how they could each incorporate the idea into their own lives, especially in apartments where space is such a premium, as a way to remind themselves of the intentions they have for reflection, stillness and meaning in their own lives. Windowsills and small platforms on top of radiators are good options; there are some small spots in my house where I use a little plate or tray to set the altar apart from the rest of a tabletop.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 48 -

the key elements of my altar: A VESSEL FILLED WITH WATER, TO SYMBOLIZE CLARITY IN YOUR MIND

A SYMBOL OF THE GREATER COMMUNITY, AND THE WORLD T H AT I ’ M A PA R T O F

INCENSE, OR SOMETHING THAT SMELLS, TO ENGAGE THE SENSES A N D B R I N G AWA R E N E S S

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 49 -

FRESH FLOWERS, A REMINDER T H AT L I F E I S F L E E T I N G

A ROCK, TO GROUND ME TO THE EARTH

A CANDLE, FOR THE LIGHT OF WISDOM

SOMETIMES, I PUT A PHOTO, OR A POEM, ON THE ALTAR TOO – TO CAPTURE SOMETHING I ’ M T H I N K I N G A LO T A B O U T , O R WA N T T O R E P E AT T O M Y S E L F. I T R Y T O F I N D P O E M S THAT SEEM TO CAPTURE THE NEW ENGLAND LANDSCAPE, AND THE SEASON.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


FROM SEED to STEM CONNECTING HUMANS TO THEIR ROOTS PHOTOGRAPHS BY GABBY RIGGIERI WORDS BY ASHLEY HERRIN


- 52 -

Dwellings don’t necessarily need to be the hammer-to-nail structures where you hang your hat at night. Dwellings also provide shelter for other living things. Take, for example, plants. Finding a home for plants can be a bit daunting - no one wants to be that overprotective or smothering caretaker. And let’s face it, that seemingly mile-long list of things that can go wrong is sometimes terrifying. For some, myself included, it’s a tricky navigation between ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’…too much sun? Not enough sun? Is this too much water? Not enough water? We’ve all likely (hopefully) been there. Creating that perfect home and environment for your beloved green ones is even labor-intensive. Beyond lugging watering cans to and from your urban garden and your kitchen sink (I am the unfortunate victim of a hose-less apartment), you’ll inevitably need to help them move once they’ve outgrown their current space. And this is the struggle I go through for my grape tomatoes and mums…introducing those unique botanicals such as air plants, and succulents…might as well throw in the towel now. Meet Seed to Stem, helping you take the guesswork, uncertainty, and design hesitations out of your unique dwelling-creation. Located in Worcester, MA and owned and operated by Virginia Orlando and Candace Atchue, Seed to Stem is a small gift shop with a lot to offer. The shop “celebrates the beauty and perfection of the natural world, boasting unusual botanicals, terrariums, natural objects, curiosities, home accessories, antiquities and more.” For those like me who love a beautiful and unique terrarium overflowing with succulents, moss and the like, designed and arranged by someone who knows what they’re doing, this is the place to go. Visiting their site (www.seedtostemstyle.com), you’ll even find care instructions for terrariums, orchids, air plants, succulents and cacti. Their desire to create the perfect dwelling and environment for the plants entering their store continues even when it leaves the door.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 53 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 54 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 55 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 56 -

Stepping into the shop, you’ll find a unique blend of the living and the decaying. The shop’s owners “hope that by connecting people with nature, they can help them further connect with their own selves, and back to their roots.” Geodes, shells, and even skulls and bones each become a dwelling for the living. Antiques fill the store while vessels overflowing with lush greenery compliment each and every corner. The shop has museum qualities as taxidermy creatures keep a watchful eye on visitors. Each and every square inch of the shop is perfectly designed and curated. Branching out from their Shrewsbury Street location, Seed to Stem can also be found at Crompton Collective in Worcester — yet another reason we were intrigued by the ladies of Seed to Stem for the Dwellings Issue. Crompton Collective is a boutique marketplace housed in the historic Crompton Place mill building. Built in 1860, Crompton Place was home to George Crompton’s invention and patent of the Crompton Loom and the textile industry he built there. Today, Crompton Collective celebrates local makers, entrepreneurs and all things old and new…a perfect merriment between the two operations. It goes without saying that Seed to Stem is a unique landmark on the small-business map here in New England. Their care for, and love of the natural and post-natural world needs no reminding. Virginia and Candace carefully craft each piece of botanical art in their shop so that we don’t have to (attempt) to do it ourselves…and for that, I am grateful.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 57 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 58 -

VISIT SEED TO STEM AT 174 SHREWSBURY STREET IN WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS OR AT CROMPTON COLLECTIVE AT 138 GREEN STREET. VISIT THEIR SHOP ONLINE AND LEARN MORE ABOUT VIRGINIA AND CANDACE AT WWW.SEEDTOSTEMSTYLE.COM

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 59 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


Vertical LIVING WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JENN BAKOS

AL ROBERTSON, A RESIDENT OF THE NOR T HE A S T K INGDOM OF V E R MON T, CHOSE T O L I V E V ER T ICAL LY LONG AGO, AND HAS BEEN DOING SO FOR ALMOST 15 YEARS.


How does he do so, you ask? Well,

the landscape, preferably nestled in

Robertson resides in a silo, seemingly

thick woods. He set only a few rules

hidden amongst the tall trees of his

for himself as he began the search

60-acre tree farm.

for the perfect property: cheap land, low taxes, and no poison ivy! He felt

The inspiration for this unique dwell-

that Vermont made the most sense at

ing came from Robertson’s vast travels

the time since upstate New York was

in Europe. After working as a civil

somewhere he enjoyed, Maine was

engineer for the Reserve Officers’

too far, and the taxes in New Hamp-

Training Corps (ROTC), he was sent

shire were too high. Back around 1983

to Germany as a civilian. It was during

when he purchased the land, it was

his travels – exploring castles and

very cheap. The parcel he bought

drinking beer – that he began to ad-

from was going for $300 per acre and

mire the way the Germans had a deep

the whole parcel at 800 acres was

respect for their forests and trees.

going for $200 per acre. He wished he had bought more at the time since

Upon returning to the U.S., Robertson

now you can’t find any land for sale

decided he wanted to buy a piece

and if you do find some it will cost

of property where he could enjoy

you from $4,000 - $6,000 per acre.


- 62 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 63 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 64 -

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION... Originally, upon finishing the road up to his property, Robertson thought he would build a normal home in this wondrous space. However, after a few beers with friends and a climb up a spruce tree, he realized that he needed to take advantage of the location and spectacular view. Since much of his inspiration came from the Bergfrieds in Germany, tall towers typically found in German medieval castles, it’s no surprise that Robertson decided to build vertically. He wanted to create a home with an incredible design, even if it was an engineering challenge. What resulted from all his hard word is this amazing silo home. The dwelling has ten levels including a kitchen, guest room, master bedroom, TV room, library and more. It is complete with a deck on top, which yields beautiful views of the Vermont wilderness. From the top on a clear day you can see Mt. Lafayette in New Hampshire in one direction and Mt. Mansfield in Vermont in the other.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 65 -

TOP LEFT & BOTTOM Much of Robertosn’s inspiration came from the Bergfrieds in Germany, tall towers typically found in German medieval castles.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 66 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 67 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


O R I G I N A L LY, U P O N F I N I S H I N G T H E R O A D U P T O H I S P R O P E R T Y, ROBERTSON THOUGHT HE WOULD BUILD A NORMAL HOME IN THIS WONDROUS SPACE. HOWE VER, AF TER A FEW BEERS WITH FRIENDS AND A CLIMB UP A SPRUCE TREE, HE RE ALIZED T HAT HE NEEDED TO TAKE A DVA N TAGE OF T HE L OCAT ION A ND SP EC TACUL AR V IE W.


Al says it is one of the best places to view the stars at night and the countryside, but one must be aware of the harsh storms and winds that come through. The area has some extreme winds for a lower elevation, so he spends quite a bit of his time repairing wind damage. The upper deck is fitted with lightning rods that ground the silo, but it has in fact been struck by lightning a few times. Next to where the silo stands is a garage. To get there you have to go up a winding driveway that passes apple trees and berry bushes, a small garden, and a few signs that lead to different pathways and trails around the property. Robertson’s 60 acres of land is also home to a tree farm, but not a Christmas tree farm as you would expect. His farm manages and raises an uneven age-class of trees throughout the property. With these he produces very high quality timber that is used as saw logs for lumber, hardwood for furniture, pulp for making paper, and firewood. His goal is not to get rich off of the land, but rather to improve the forest.


- 72 -

CAPE COD MODERN HOME Trust Words and Photographs by Jenn Bakos

Milisa Moses picked me up at the South Wellfleet General Store on a late foggy morning. We chatted a bit as she drove me down a long winding dirt road through the thick and almost rainforest-like woods that are so unique to Cape Cod. We curved around bends, finally driving over a crushed shell driveway and out into an opening where a very interesting home was hiding. An amazing non-profit called The Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT) drew Milisa and her husband Thomas to the Cape. The trust was founded in 2007 with a drive to preserve and renovate crumbling, abandoned homes that were owned by the Cape Cod National Seashore. In the 1930s, the Outer Cape attracted many engineers, writers, and architects along with their students and friends. Many creative minds and lavish parties were melded with the natural world surrounding these houses. It was a place of inspiration and peace for many, and still is today.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 74 -

In 1959, there was talk of legislation being brought to the area of the National Seashore that would stifle development. For the next few years, people began to build houses along the shore, thinking the bill would never pass.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 75 -

The Outer Cape became a popular attraction for engineers, architects and writers in the 1930s. It was a place of inspiration and peace for many, and still is today.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 77 -

In 1959, there was talk of legislation

erally owned houses. We visited The

being brought to the area of the

Hatch Cottage, designed by Jack Hall

National Seashore that would stifle

in 1960 for owners Ruth and Robert

development. For the next few years,

Hatch. Ruth Hatch, widowed, ended

people began to build houses along

up living at the cottage well into her

the shore, thinking the bill would

90s, even through the colder months

never pass. When it did, the govern-

of October and November. The house

ment froze all new development from

originally had no electricity and only

starting and those who had built were

limited heat from a single fireplace.

given a choice to leave, pay a 25-year

Ruth was a painter, and so was her

lease or even a lifetime lease. The

daughter. The family was kind enough

ones that were left have been slowly

to keep most of the belongings that

decaying into the forest. Others like

were left behind and once the house

the one we visited were part of a

was restored, they brought them

lifetime lease and eventually restored

back. Some of the paintings hanging

after many years.

on the walls are Ruth’s and her daughter’s, which give it such a personal

So far, CCMHT has leased and

touch and truly show the incredible

restored three of the abandoned, fed-

history behind the home.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 80 -

THUS FAR, CAPE COD MODERN HOUSE TRUST HAS LEASED AND RESTORED THREE OF THE SEVEN ABANDONED AND DETERIORATING FEDERALLY-OWNED MODERN HOMES.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 81 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 84 -

The home itself, renovated by Founding Director Peter McMahon, was inspired and modeled after a chicken coupe, if you can believe it. It is a gray washboard on the outside, one level, but all rooms are separate and placed on top of a metal deck. The vibe is very modern with hints of vintage. There are many unique touches to the house, such as doors with latches that can be pulled up or down to board up the place if the weather gets nasty. And little knick-knacks can be found through out, like a string of fishing lures that have been collected off of the seashore. Besides a new roof, decking, septic, electric, and footings, the original house is mostly intact. It has a beautiful view of the ocean and there’s even a small public beach (if you can find it!). The houses are available to rent out for weekend getaways or longer vacations. The Hatch house is a perfect place to enjoy the serenity of the ocean and surrounding nature that has been preserved for years. The history of the land and those who lived there are still very evident. There are many homes still abandoned, which are slightly eerie looking on a foggy day such as the one we visited on. But the breath of new life that has been shared with these renovated homes gives us hope for new beginnings and ways to transform the spaces and places around the seashore.

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


- 85 -

t.e.l.l. NEW ENGL AND


“I LONG, AS DOES EVERY HUMAN BEING, TO BE AT HOME WHEREVER I FIND MYSELF.”


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Emily Nichols Michelle Martin Diana Limbach Lempel Meral Agish Gabby Riggieri

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO Marisa Mauro & Ploughgate Creamery Friends of Little River Light Al Robertson Seed to Stem Cape Cod Modern Home Trust Salt Cellar Shop

EDITORIAL TEAM MANAGING EDITOR Mandi Tompkins FOUNDING PARTNERS Jenn Bakos & Ashley Herrin

LET’S CHAT! SUBMISSIONS submit@tellnewengland.com GENERAL INQUIRIES info@tellnewengland.com MANDI Mandi@tellnewengland.com ASHLEY Ashley@tellnewengland.com JENN Jenn@tellnewengland.com


www.tellnewengland.com

t.e.l.l. vol. 10 | The Dwellings Issue  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you