2005 Preservation Award Winners

For more information or photos (we have before and after images of all the award winners), contact Nancy Barr, Vice-Chair, Chatham Historical Commission: Tel. 508-945-4817 or email nbarr@capecod.net.

Chatham, April 6, 2005: Yesterday, the Town of Chatham Board of Selectmen endorsed the presentation of 2005 Chatham Preservation Awards to the owners of five historic local properties. By honoring recent local efforts to preserve, rehabilitate and maintain historic properties and streetscapes, the Awards aim to promote and educate the Chatham community about the importance of historic preservation to the town’s rich architectural heritage and unique sense of place. The Awards initiative is jointly sponsored by the Town of Chatham Historical Commission, Historic Business District Commission and the Chatham Historical Society.

Spanning two centuries of architectural design and history, from the late 1700s to early 1900s, the five winners of the 2005 Chatham Preservation Awards are:

1) 177 Cross Street, “Hiawatha,” Chatham
This grand Federal period “Square Rigger” was built by Master Mariner James Taylor about 1838 following his marriage to Azubah Atwood. Rising a full two stories to a hipped roof with central cupola and a chimney on each side, the residence was unusually elaborate at the time of its construction, when Chatham was still largely characterized by simple Cape Cod-style cottages. After Captain Taylor’s death, Azubah remarried Giddings Ballou, a local teacher and portrait painter and they continued to reside in the house. In the 20th century, the residence was operated during some periods as a bed and breakfast. According to the Awards application, the goal of the recent restoration work on Hiawatha was, quite simply, to save it from being torn down. While there was not evidence of an imminent threat of demolition, the owners were concerned because they had observed that recent history had not been kind to many of Chatham’s historic houses. Their belief was that if they restored this house, which was greatly in need of updating and repair, while at the same time providing modern conveniences desired by many second-home buyers these days, then this sea captain’s residence could remain a part of the fabric of Chatham for another 150 years.

2) 627 Old Harbor Road, “Mizzentop,” North Chatham
Built c. 1788 by early sea captain Myrick Nickerson, this traditional full-Cape dwelling was originally located at Cannon Hill, overlooking North Chatham’s Bassing Harbor. The house was probably moved to its current location by Nickerson’s grandson, Myrick Kent, also a sea captain. In the mid 20th century, the house was rented to Captain John Mosher, who led the navel force that freed Dutch island holdings in the Pacific during World War II. Sometime later, an entourage of Netherlands royalty headed by Princess Juliana visited Cape Cod, staying at the Chatham Bars Inn. Capt. Mosher and his wife Rebecca were invited for cocktails with the Princess but he was physically unable to attend. Instead, the royal entourage of 17 came to this home on Old Harbor Road and the Princess presented Capt. Mosher with an award of gratitude for his wartime assistance. Between 1996 and 2004, the current owners undertook a three-phase restoration and sensitive expansion of this historic Cape which succeeded in restoring, refurbishing, expanding and modernizing the 18th century dwelling without changing or demolishing any of the historically significant portions.

Caleb Nickerson House, ca. 1772

3) 1107 Orleans Road, “Caleb Nickerson House,” Chathamport
This Cape Cod cottage was built about 1772 on a bluff overlooking the Oyster River off what is now Stage Neck Road. It remained in the family of the original builder, Caleb Nickerson, for some 230 years and was barely modernized or altered during that period. The property was sold out of the family in 2001 and slated for demolition to make way for three new homes. Following diligent efforts by the Historical Commission to save the house due to its unique historical integrity, the Nickerson Family Association stepped in and raised the funds—with the help of a large grant from the Community Preservation Committee—to move the old house, by barge and truck, to their Chathamport headquarters and carefully restore it to the Colonial period of its construction.

4) 20 Shore Road, “Wilkey Frey House,” Chatham
This Cape Cod-style house with turn-of-the-20th-century architectural enhancements was built about 1905 on the property of the Mattaquason Hotel. Built by H. Fisher Eldredge on a bluff overlooking Chatham harbor, from 1901 to 1956 the Mattaquason was operated and eventually owned by Frederick Wilkey and his children. The hotel’s last owners were Frederick Wilkey’s daughter Dorothy and her husband Milton C. Frey (a chef at the hotel). After it closed in 1956, the hotel was demolished and the extensive property subdivided into today’s Mattaquason Point. This historic dwelling, which was Milton and Dorothy’s residence, survived at the edge of the modern subdivision with many original features intact but obscured by years of inattentive redecorating and remodeling. Between 1999 and 2004, the current owners modernized the house, bringing systems up to code and installing a foundation, with the goal of restoring the appearance of the house to the turn of the 20th century, while at the same time making it entirely livable for the 21st century.

5) 146 Shore Road, “Crosstrees,” Chatham
This fine Shingle Style residence, the subject of many historic Chatham postcard views, was built about 1916 as a summer home for noted Cape Cod author Joseph Lincoln. Lincoln (1870-1944) was born in Brewster, the son of a shipmaster, and became famous for his prolific writing—including some four dozen books—about Cape Cod and its local characters. After purchasing Crosstrees in 1989, the current owners began working to restore the exterior of the home to its original or historically significant appearance. For example, the front porch was returned to its original unenclosed state and a rounded bay that was added to the façade was removed. This exterior work was completed by mid-2004 and the front elevation is now true to its original shingle design, complete with a rebuilt arbor and window boxes.

After endorsing the Chatham Preservation Awards at their April 5 meeting, the Chatham Board of Selectmen proclaimed May as National Preservation Month with the theme, “Restore America: Communities at a Crossroads” Organized by The National Trust for Historic Places, observance of Preservation Month aims to promote consistent, well-informed efforts by local citizens and property owners, as well as elected officials and regulatory boards, to help ensure that the importance of protecting and celebrating each town’s unique historic character is recognized in the many arenas where decisions are being made to set a community’s future course. Locally, the observance is part of the ongoing effort—highlighted by the Chatham Preservation Awards—to acknowledge the importance of promoting historic preservation as essential to Chatham’s unique sense of place.

Click here to see the 2004 winners




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