By Gail Ravgiala
A beautiful and insightful book that takes us back to a time when the Outer Cape of Massachusetts was a hotbed of innovative architecture has been awarded the 21st annual Book Prize by Historic New England. We loved Cape Cod Modern: Midcentury Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape (Metropolis Books) by Peter McMahon and Christine Cipriani when we reviewed it more than a year ago (Finding Our Outer Modern, July/August 2014), so we were happy to see the work get this much-deserved recognition.
The teardown mentality might be the biggest threat to these mostly small and modest treasures built at time when building codes were less stringent (or barely existed) and the owners, though iconic names in architecture today, were folks on tight budgets often using inexpensive materials to create what they considered expendable seasonal housing. No McMansions were these simple structures tucked in the scrub pine and dunes.
McMahon, and others, thinks they are worthy of preservation. He has founded the Cape Cod Modern House Trust (CCMHT), which documents these exceptional structures and has leased several of them, all in various states of disrepair, from the National Park Service. Working with partners the CCMHT has rescued and restored several of the houses for re-use as creative platforms for artists and others.
An HNE Honor Book award was given to Derin T. Bray for Bucket Town: Woodenware and Wooden Toys of Hingham, Massachusetts, 163-1945 (Hingham Historical Commission), which, as its title implies, traces the history of the woodenware industry in the South Shore town.
In Plain Sight: Discovering the Furniture of Nathaniel Gould (Peabody Essex Museum) by Kemble Widmer and Joyce King also received an Honor Book award. It turns the discovery of Nathaniel Gould’s detail-rich day and account books into a scholarly look at the work of one of the leading American cabinetmakers of the 18th century.
Great design is always at your fingertips! Read Design New England’s November/December 2015 issue online!