We love featuring an iconic architect here on the blog, but this month, we decided to delve a little deeper into not one specific architect, but rather a group of unexpected homes and the architects who designed them.
The Modernist homes in Cape Cod are a bit of an enigma: they’re located in a coastal area that is certainly not well-known for this style of home, and because of that, most of them have been long-forgotten and fallen into disrepair. The majority of the area’s Modernist homes were built between 1930 and 1960, right in the midst of the Modernist period. There were about 110 Modernist homes total built along the Cape during that time, and most of them were built deep in the woods around Cape Cod Bay in order to really blend in with the natural setting.
Maybe our favorite thing about Cape Cod’s Modernist homes is the reason they were built in the first place. Modernist architects (many of whom were self-taught) loved the Cape’s easy, summer vacation mentality, which they thought jived well with the open, social feel of the Modernist style home. They decided to build these homes in the Cape in order to get away from the bustle of nearby cities like New York and Boston, but they chose to place them away from everyone else deep in the woods so as to not disturb Cape Cod’s longtime residents with their bohemian, artist lifestyles. Luckily, the two groups seemed to coexist peacefully, and the homes didn’t disturb the otherwise seamless look of Cape Cod’s beachy shores.
So, how did these frugal yet stylish vacation homes hold up? Unfortunately, around 1961, legislation was passed to freezing all new development, and many of the Modernist homeowners were bought out and their homes were demolished. The Cape Cod Modern House Trust was established in 2007 to attempt to restore some of the more well-maintained existing homes, including Jack Hall’s Hatch House, Charles Zehnder’s Kugel/Gips House and Paul Weidlinger’s personal home. These three homes are now up for rent, so if you’re looking for a piece of Modernist history for next summer’s vacation, you’d be hard pressed to find something more impressive.