The charms of Cape Cod, Massachusetts are undoubtedly well documented. From being the summer sojourn of choice for storied American families to its bounty of fresh oysters, lobsters and clams, which continues to enthrall year after year, the Cape pretty much sums up what’s good in life.
Lesser known is the outer region’s heritage of midcentury modern architecture, which attracted architects including Marcel Breuer, Serge Chermayeff and Olaf Hammerstrom, who produced a slew of houses for themselves, friends and clients from the late 1930s. Tucked in amongst the beaches, tidal marshes and woods by the seashore, these cottages welcomed guests like Walter Gropius, the Saarinen family and Florence and Hans Knoll - just some of the creative regulars who journeyed to the Cape.
After laws were passed to create the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961, which effectively prevented any new development, all homes falling into the national park lines were bought out and slated for demolition. Of over 100 of these houses, seven are exemplary modern ones. Left mostly abandoned and poorly maintained, they sank into derelict form. That is until the Cape Cod Modern Trust came along.
Founded in 2007, the Trust is committed to preventing these modern houses from being demolished while restoring and repurposing its structures for study. Under its stewardship, the Hatch House designed by Jack Hall in 1961 and the Weidlinger House by Paul Weidlinger (1953) have both been returned to their former glory.
Next week on 30 October, the Cape Cod Modern Trust will host a benefit auction in New York City, which will raise funds to continue its superior preservation efforts and support its own programming, including public education and artist residencies. The auction will present Cape Cod-inspired works by both established (Anni Albers, Laszlo Maholy-Nagy) and emerging (Bara Jichova, Mattias Kessler) artists – many with ties to the region- up for grabs. But probably best of all is the door prize of a three-night stay in one of the restored houses in June 2016. Advance bidding is now available at Paddle 8.