The last week has been more one of planning than execution. Some floors have been pulled out for more discovery and replacement of burst pipes. The landscaper has worked out how he will get water away from the foundation. The chimney guy has a plan—I hope we can get some pictures of the novel technique he will use to salvage our crumpling ones. The contractor and my spouse seem to have agreed on what room will be used for what which cleared the way for a number of other decisions.
At this point we’ve taken most of the steps back required before proceeding forward. And the path ahead is becoming clear. But there’s not a lot of positive motion to document. So, let’s talk about the post office. (This is really just an excuse to show the neat pair of “then and now” photos below.)
Several years ago, Jim Gould wrote a nice piece for the Barnstable Enterprise about Cotuit’s “Great Post Office Fight.” After the Civil War, Laughing Gull Hill’s owner and resident, Captain Andrew Lovell, was the center of political turmoil the rocked the village. Postmaster at the time, he was forced out of office for several years in the wake of Grover Cleveland’s first election. Lovell was eventually reappointed and ultimately turned the reins over to his daughter Lizzie. In the course of all this, according to Dr. Gould, Lovell built the gambrel-roofed post office on the corner adjacent to our property. I’m still working my way through the deeds to figure out the timing, but it was certainly standing in the early 1900s.
Nor have I yet been able to date the older picture, but likely early 20th century. The post office structure, a private home today, has been added onto a bit. But our house in the background looks little different, save for the paint, shutters and an extra chimney (which today terminates below the roof line). The original house is the part to the left. The perpendicular section between the two rightmost chimneys was added later. The point roofed guest house to the back, was probably a separate structure, but had been joined to the house even in the older picture.
More changed is the landscape. There were few deciduous trees in Cotuit in those days and the pines were generally short and scraggly. Even in my early memories of 50 years ago, Cotuit felt much less wooded. Clearly the harbor off to the left of the pictures was far more visible than it is today. When our house was built the view straight out the front door was likely unobstructed and, evidently, still pretty good as of 100s years ago when the old picture was taken.