To get the flavor of what Cape Cod was like nearly a century ago, “The Bungalow” is as good a place as any to start. When it was built in 1912, the house, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean from a hilltop perch in East Orleans, served as a vacation home for the Nichols family.
It also doubled as a function hall, and because of this dual role, there is a reliable record of its place in history. One entry in that record shows just how important was this single strand to the fabric of the town. It was a letter from the family matriarch to her children, written some years after the house was built and published in a book of local history.
Although the exact year is is not known, it was written on August 18 at 2:00 am. Called “The Bungalow”, it begins:
Dear Children Twelve:
As you know your Father designed and helped build this bungalow. Mr. Ober was the carpenter, not only of the building but also made the furniture of fence rails which your Father designed. Elizabeth suggested making the furniture of fence rails. For several years as you know, we used the bungalow for concerts, plays and subscription dances for the town's people. The small sum of money we raised we gave to the churches of the town. The Methodist church refused the small sunt as they did not approve of dances. I respected their living up to their principles, if the sum had been large ( think they should have refused it just the same. One year I remember we gave the money raised for street lamps of kerosene oil. One year yon children made a little money from a play or show and gave it for delicate children to live on a boat for a week or so, a small sumn but the idea was good.
We never wanted the people of Orleans to feel that we, as strangers, had come to usurp their land, we never put up any no trespassing signs on our land. This year however we may do so, as we want to have a place for birds to nest and raise their young.
When the World War came we were glad to have Red Cross Work carried on, I shall always remember the earnest women sewing vigorously on their sewing machines making pyjamas for the soldiers. We had several dances for the aviators, some of their names are in the guest book.
After several years as we were blessed with grandchildren we decided to live in the bungalow so, a kitchen, tiny bedroom bathroom and fireplace were put in. Asie-Ozzie Smith was the mason for fireplace and chimney.
We have had on Sunday mornings short services with you and the grandchildren, reading the beautiful psalms and many selections from the New Testament — and singing hymns. This year I have asked each family member to conduct the service. I have loved to know what the children and grandchildren had in their hearts and minds. I love these little services, remembering that our parents felt the need of the spiritual as well as the mental and physical.
I know that you feel as ( do that this bungalow has become more sacred baving had the service for our dear Bubbie who left this world so young but his memory will never fade from our hearts.
Two Christenings as you know have been held bere which has endeared the bungalow to all who were present, John Elliot Nichols and Gertrude Fuller Nichols sa third christening was held in July, 1940, for Lydia Moore.) The cousins of the babies forminga choir we will always remember.
I know that you will appreciate my feeling that: it ought not to be rented in our life time of yours. I would like to have any friend of the family who was ill of needed rest to enjoy this perfect place free.
I think you will appreciate my sentiment in this matter.
With love as always, Your loving Mother.
Today, the bungalow, which is called “The Stone House” by some, is being renovated as a private residence for new owners. The renovation, which began last year and is wrapping up now, followed designs by Peter Haig of ADI, with the J. C. Donald Company as contractor.
In explaining new owners’ approach to the project, Don Connelly of J.C. Donald said, “The whole reason they did this is to protect the character of the bungalow. A master bedroom is being added to one wing, but, other than that, the bungalow remains a bungalow, true to the style of the period, and considering its history, that is as it should be.
Reprinted from The Cape Paper, Spring 1999