The Big Project

As of noon yesterday, we own a house with a name. “Laughing Gull Hill.” It sits on a hill above Cotuit Harbor and has done for probably over 200 years. And the hill? No, that’s not its name; it really doesn’t have one. And nor is the name near as old as the structure. Conjured up about 40 years ago by a daughter of the house, it served well when her mother started running it as a bed and breakfast for many years. Her name is Nancy Grant; as these things go, our house will likely be known as Nancy Grant’s House for many years.

The Town of Barnstable records say the house was built in 1740. That would make it the oldest house in Cotuit, but I’m not sure. As I understand it, the town based such dates on input from owners and so the accuracy is a question.

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From Cotuit and Santuit by James W. Gould and Jessica Rapp Grassetti

I’ve traced the deeds back to before 1850. Evidently there was a fire in the courthouse in 1823 that destroyed the great majority of Barnstable records, so ours is not the only one whose origin is difficult to verify. There was salt works on the property in the middle 1800s. Later that century the postmaster took it over and ran the post office on the corner. Around the turn of the century he was succeeded by his daughter.


The realtor’s listing photos belie the condition of the house. It has a new gas furnace and septic system; everything else is in dire need. The house inspector felt it had not been well-maintained for a couple decades and it has been unoccupied for 3 years. The floor joists and roof rafters are logs. Both have a little damage from powder post beetles. Floors are a little wavy. The foundation is mostly brick and crumbly; it suffers from too much water near the house. The electrical panel has screw-in fuses and feeds a fair amount of knob and tube wiring. There are many windows, all in pretty bad shape and many are cracked. The chimneys are leaning and dangerous. Tearing up wall-to-wall carpeting today, I was disappointed to find linoleum in a couple of rooms. You get the idea.

IMG_0247.JPGFirst step was to secure the perimeter. Many doors and windows didn’t lock. Now they do. They pest control guy came in today too. Many pests we won’t miss. I also spent much of the day, pulling up musty carpets. Yuk!

We enjoyed Day 1 cocktails last night on what will likely be a patio. It’s great to look across our lawn, through the trees to the harbor.




3 thoughts on “The Big Project

  1. Nancy and John Grant (“Grandmama” and “Bapa” to me!) were my grandparents and I just wanted to say how great it is to follow your work on the house! I always loved visiting that house and it’s exciting to see you transform it while still paying homage to her. I especially loved seeing the NH + JG on the wall!


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