In 1959, as a response to post WW2 over-development on the Cape, legislation was introduced to create the Cape Cod National Seashore, a federal park that would freeze all future development inside a large area of the outer Cape. For the next two years, while it was debated, over one hundred houses were built within the future park’s boundaries, including a small group of significant modernist buildings. When the legislation passed in 1961, the owners of these houses were bought out and the houses were slated for eventual demolition. The Park-owned modern houses eventually fell into administrative limbo, where they have languished ever since, most of them empty and deteriorating.
The Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT) incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit in 2007 to save some of these important houses and to renovate and repurpose them as platforms for creativity, scholarship and public access.
The project has been an intense collaboration between CCMHT, the Park Service, local stakeholders as well as enthusiasts from far and wide. Our most important financial support has come though Wellfleet’s Community Preservation Act funds. These grants must be approved by a majority of town’s people at town meeting so we really have the voters of Wellfleet to thank.
The Massachusetts Historic Commission has also played an active role in supervising compliance with State Historic Preservation Office standards.
Volunteers at all skill levels have played in essential part in the restorations as have suppliers of materials and services who have, through donated or discounted goods and services made the work possible on very limited budgets.
We also relied heavily on the families of owners and designers of houses who supplied the photographs, descriptions and original plans which have been critical to doing faithful restorations.
As of 2014, CCMHT has leased three houses from the Park Service:
- The Kugel/Gips house, 1970, Charles Zehnder (restoration completed May 2009)
- The Hatch House, 1961, Jack Hall (restoration completed June 2013)
- The Weidlinger House, 1953, Paul Weidlinger (restoration will be completed July 2014)