Cape Cod style homes were first built by early settlers who had two important concerns that persist for homeowners to this day: affordability and energy-efficient protection from harsh New England winters. Nearly 400 years after the first homes of this style were built, those characteristics continue to make Capes a great option for 21st century homebuyers.
Designed to be cozy, Cape Cods make excellent starter homes for first-time home buyers seeking affordable properties, and they are also an attractive option for retirees and empty nesters who are seeking to downsize, minimize stair climbing, and stretch income and savings as far as possible.
A style that endures for a reason
Though the style seems quintessentially American, Capes originated with English settlers in the 1600s, inspired by English thatched cottages and the “hall and parlor house,” a small, affordable, two-room style of home. In New England these homes were adapted with local building materials to keep out the winter cold.
The term “Cape Cod House” wasn’t coined and popularized until the 19th century when the book Travels in New England and New York was published.
The style’s popularity waned for a time, until a Boston-area architect reintroduced the Cape in the 1920s as a contemporary housing option that retained historical exterior features with modernized interiors.
In the mid 20th century, the Cape Cod style became highly popular with suburban developers who planned communities designed to supply inexpensive homes for the young families of World War II veterans.
Affordable, built for function before form, and efficient to heat and clean, these American classics are still great options for today’s military veterans.
What makes a Cape Cod a Cape Cod?
A Cape Cod house is a compact, one to one-and-a-half story frame building often featuring:
- a steeply pitched gabled roof that allows snow to slide off easily
- a centrally located chimney and front door flanked by multi-paned windows
- wide clapboard or shingles on the exterior and the roof to help cut the cold
- small rooms with low ceilings, making them easier to heat
- a main bedroom on the lower level
- sleeping rooms located in the attic space above
- a narrow “captain’s stairway”to second floor rooms (which were often kept for seafaring boarders), designed to maximize first-floor space
- flooring comprised of softwood or hardwood such as heart pine, chestnut, or oak planks
- “gunstock” corner posts; frame construction named for the tapering shape of a rifle stock
- exposed, rough-hewn beam ceilings that add to the home’s rustic charm
- wainscoting designed to cover the lower part of walls as both decoration and protection against dampness
- in New Hampshire, Capes often feature granite steps and foundations
After nearly four centuries, Cape cods continue to appeal to homeowners for both aesthetic and practical reasons including affordability and energy-efficient protection from New England winters.
I have an adorable circa 1820 Cape Cod with classic wood shake exterior, granite steps, exposed beam construction, hardwood flooring, gunstock corners, historic wainscoting, and plenty of storage and workspace listed for sale at 264 South Main Street in Laconia. Please contact me if you’d like to schedule a showing.
Brent Metzger is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith, NH.
Brent can be reached on his cell phone at (603) 229-8322, at the office at (603) 279-7046, or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.