Massachusetts Historical Commission Area(s) Form No.
234 - 237
Massachusetts Archives Building
220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, Massachusetts 02125 Page
ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION see continuation sheet
Describe architectural, structural and landscape features and evaluate in terms of other areas within the community
Three cottages on Smith Heights were built in 1910 on a bluff above the west side of Town Cove. For the purpose of this record, they have been identified, south to north, as A, B, and C. The cottages originated as smaller, nearly identical cabins that were part of a seven-unit colony. Only these three remain. At their core, they are rectangular, one-story, wood frame buildings with hipped roofs and full front porches on their east sides, which faced the cove. Like most other buildings in the town, they were sided and roofed with wood shingles; the wall material has been maintained, but all roofs have been resurfaced with asphalt shingles. Shingle siding on the southernmost two cottages (A and B) have been painted white; shingles on the northernmost cottage (C) appear to have been replaced with newer wood shingles. Windows are numerous and contain a variety of sash types, but mostly six-over-one and two-over-two configurations. Full front porches were designed to wrap around the sides, with flat shed roofs extending from the house eaves. The porches were enclosed by a shingled knee wall erected between posts supporting the roof.
This hipped roof cabin type would have been a novel instance in 1910 of a form that became very popular in Eastham in the ensuing decades. Prior to this beach cottages, as well as most of the architecture in the town, had gable roofs originating in the Cape Cod vernacular. Termed “bungalows” in the local real estate parlance, they reflected the influence of the broader prevailing design taste of resort builders and tourists in the early 20th century when the Cape economy and landscape was transforming. These cottages were quickly and cheaply built, and they evolved over the years to address their limitations.
When they were built they were unheated seasonal rental units without kitchens. Based on the typical model for cabins in this era, their plans would have comprised a large, common room, one or two small bedrooms, and a lavatory containing a toilet and sink; showers were generally located outside so that sand and other beach debris could be washed off before entering the cabin. As time went on, kitchens were added to interiors as were more complete bathrooms so that each cottage was independent. Portions of side porches were enclosed to create additional interior space. In the case of Cottage C, the corner section of the porch was removed on the south side with what remained incorporated into the house as an room. Cottages A and B were further expanded with rear extensions. Both have two chimneys: one in the main block of the house to vent a heating source and one in the rear indicating the location of early kitchen stoves. Cottage C has only one chimney located in the room appended to the south side of the house (where the porch once wrapped), which suggests that the original kitchen was located there.
A detached garage is located behind (west of) Cottage A. The one-stall garage has a similar hipped roof, wood shingle siding, and original swing doors on the south end. A one-story, gable roof shed is attached to the north end of the garage by a hyphen. There is a chimney in the hyphen.
1 story, wood frame cottage, hipped roof; 3 bay front façade, center entrance; 1-story porch on end , wraps on sides (partially enclosed); wood shingle siding, asphalt shingle roof
1 story, wood frame cottage, hipped roof; 3 bay front façade, center entrance; 1-story porch, wraps on sides, rear and side extensions; wood shingle siding, asphalt shingle roof
1 story, wood frame cottage, hipped roof; 3 bay front façade, center entrance; 1-story porch, wraps on north side (enclosed), altered into room on south side; wood shingle siding (replaced), asphalt shingle roof
Garage & storage
1 story, wood frame building, hipped roof; 1 vehicle bay on south end, swing doors; gable roof extension on north end; wood shingle siding, asphalt shingle roof
HISTORICAL NARRATIVE see continuation sheet
Explain historical development of the area. Discuss how this relates to the historical development of the community. The three cottages at 1440 State Highway on Smith Heights are what remain of a seven-cottage complex built by Eastham’s Francis W. Smith (1858-1943), and they are probably the earliest cottages built for tourists in the town. In 1894 Smith, the son of a farmer in Eastham’s bayside Thumpertown section of town, purchased land next to 5.8 acres his wife Sarah had inherited, and by 1900 they were living on nearly twelve acres set on a rise between the County Road (now U.S. Route 6) and Eastham’s Town Cove. In 1910 Smith built seven small cottages facing the cove.
At that time, well before Eastham’s true development as a summer tourist destination, the town offered probably only two inns and two summer boardinghouses. In addition, the automobile was still, in relative terms, a novelty. In 1900 Americans had registered eight thousand cars, by 1912 less than a million, and by 1920 eight million.1
Francis W. Smith was the son of Nathaniel Smith, a small to middling farmer in the bayside Thumpertown section of Eastham. Thumpertown ranges along from a bit north of Great Pond to south of Campground Road. The 1880 federal census indicates that when Francis Smith was twenty-one he was a fisherman, and later censuses show that he pursued both fishing and farming into the 1920s.
Nathaniel Smith is shown as “N. Smith” on the 1858 Walling map of Eastham, and by 1880 his fifty-eight-acre farm had twenty improved acres and five acres of meadow. He had only one milk cow and produced just one hundred pounds of butter; his twenty-five chickens laid five hundred dozen eggs. The $450 in product value from the farm—compared to that of the three largest farmers in Eastham, who earned from $1150 to $1650 on agricultural products that year—might have encouraged his son Francis to turn to fishing. In 1881 Francis W. Smith married Sarah A. Doane, whose father, George Doane, had moved from Eastham to Topeka, Kansas, when that state was still a territory. According to Smith’s granddaughter, Sadie Flint, Doane came back to Cape Cod to marry Amanda Snow and then returned to Kansas, where their daughter Sarah was born in 1860; Kansas became a state in 1861. Amanda Doane died within three years of the move, and George Doane and his daughter moved back to Cape Cod. When Sarah was twenty she married Francis W. Smith.2
By 1889 both of Smith’s parents had died, and in 1891 he still owned his father’s farm in Thumpertown.3 In 1894, the brothers Charles T. and Abealino E. Doane sold Smith six acres of land on the east side of the State Highway (now U.S. Route 6), just south of land they inherited from their father Ezekiel and north of 5.6 acres of land Smith’s wife Sarah had inherited from shipmaster Johnathan Snow, an Orleans native.4 The Smiths, with their seventeen-year-old daughter Amanda, were living on this property by 1900. According to that year’s census and the next federal enumeration in 1910, Smith was farming. Sadie Flint recalled that he had “big fields” of turnips and asparagus, the two largest twentieth-century cash crops for Eastham farmers, as well as strawberries and “a small house garden.”
Amanda Smith married Ezra Leon Chase, who ran a butcher’s cart for his stepfather Daniel Cummings in Orleans, in 1904. The couple had two children—Sara (Sadie) Frances Chase, born in 1904, and Howard Doane Chase, born in 1907—before Amanda died in that latter year. Howard remained with his father, who had remarried by 1910, but Sadie went to live with her grandparents, Frances W. and Sarah Smith, in Eastham.
Sadie Chase Flint recalled in 1977 that Smith “had a farm and he had a weir out in the Bay, where he caught fish and sent them to Boston. And then later, maybe in 1910 or ‘11, he built cottages on the bluff on the Cove and rented them to people.” A plan of the couple’s land registered in 1916 shows their home (photographs show it was a three-quarter Cape) and two outbuildings on the west part of the lot, facing the State Highway, and seven cottages on the rear or east side of the parcel, facing the “creek,” or what is now part of the Town Cove. Three are on the land of Sarah Smith, the south parcel; four are sited on the parcel Frances W. Smith bought in 1894.5
According to Flint, the early vacationers returned to these cottages each summer and over so many years that the cabins were named for them—Hunter, McKechnie, Williams, Gooch. That at least one of the cabins was on site by 1912 is attested by an indenture between Francis Smith and Frederick H. Gooch of Taunton dated 26 August of that year. For ten dollars a year, Smith permitted Gooch, a Maine native who was then an agent for a cotton mill, to lease the land (a plot 60 by 125 square feet) on which the cottage sat for the next ten years. Gooch appears to have bought this or another cottage and land from Smith in 1928; the 1929 Cape Cod directory lists him and his wife Ella among the property-owning summer residents of Eastham, at Smith Heights. By 1930 his Taunton household included a maid and a housekeeper, which suggests he had attained a fairly high level of affluence.6
Hunter Cottage was named for William Hunter, whom Flint identified as a photographer from Taunton whose wife spent summers there “before the First World War.” Hunter drove to the cottage “on Saturday afternoons.” An early photograph in Hunter’s possession showed them on the open porch of Hunter cottage—a former lawyer’s office moved to the site from Orleans—with Frances W. Smith, Sadie Flint, Smith’s neighbor to the South, Edmund L. Knowles, Knowles’s son Oliver, and another renter named Scudder. The 1910 Taunton census lists a William Hunter with his own income at 17 Trescott Street with his wife Betsy, who ran a private lodging house. Among the lodgers at that time was Fred M. Scudder, a messenger at Taunton City Hall.7 Hunter was probably an avocational photographer.
Although car ownership was initially limited to people whose level of income was closer to Frederick Gooch’s, one scholar has noted how quickly ownership became “a broadly based middle-class movement even before Henry Ford came out with his legendary Model T” in 1908. “Manufacturers are relying on two great new purchasing factors,” one industry representative stated in 1909,”the farmer and the man with the middle-class income.” And hotel keepers lamented the fact that even affluent Americans seemed to opt for cottages and cabins because of “their proximity to the highways, the convenience of parking, the car actually at the door of the cabin, the lure of the ‘open air.’”8
By 1929 Smith Heights was listed among “camps” in the Cape directory. Sarah Smith died that year, and by 1930 Francis W. Smith, then seventy-one years old, listed himself as a caretaker of cottages. Sadie Flint was then a schoolteacher. In 1940, Smith owned about 11.4 acres on Smith Heights, and he deeded an acre of the overall parcel to Alfred O. Cole, whose grandfather, Charles O. Knowles, had also moved to Topeka, Kansas in the 1850s, perhaps with George Doane. In 1895 Francis Smith had sold a small lot bordering the State Highway to Knowles. There must have been a cottage or house on this lot by 1929, for Knowles’s widow Rebecca, age seventy-nine according to the census, is listed as a property-owning summer resident on “Kings Highway” in the Cape directory that year, along with her son Charles B. Knowles, then forty-four years old. Smith essentially enlarged this lot, extending 75 feet along the highway and 125 feet deep toward the Town Cove, in this sale to Cole.9
Either at that time or in 1946, the lot line between the Frances W. and Sarah A. Smith lots was altered. By 1942 Francis Smith had moved to Phillips, Maine, and in that year he deeded the parcels to his grandchildren. He transferred the northern section—essentially the land he had purchased from the Doane brothers in 1894—to Howard Chase and the southern section—the land his wife had inherited—to Sadie Chase Flint. Sadie had by that time married George I. Flint, a physician from Maine, and was also living in Phillips. Howard Chase, who in 1930 was a commercial oil salesman and living with his father Ezra in Orleans, was living in Lowell in 1942. In 1946, Howard Chase registered a plan that showed the original lot line between his grandparents’ parcels and the new boundary line, which created a generous lot for the Alfred O. Cole parcel, accordingly left scarcely any land north of the Francis and Sarah Smith house, and cut halfway through the southermost cottage on the former Francis Smith parcel. The 1946 plan also shows a trapezoidal parcel on the Town Cove bluff that Chase deeded to his sister with his half the cottage that stood upon it, thus reducing his number of cottages to three.10 According to Flint, she and her husband lived in her grandparents’ home during the summers until 1948, when they tore down the deteriorated barn behind the house and built a new house on its foundations. They then rented the Smith house out during the summers until it too fell into disrepair; the three-quarters Cape was taken down in the 1960s; a subdivision plan of Flint’s property indicates that the Francis W. and Sarah Smith had not yet been razed by 1963, however.
Flint and her husband George seem to have continued renting cottages at least through the 1960s; it was called Smith Heights Motel and Cabins in 1955 and may have included the three cottages belonging to her brother. In 1965 she sold the land on which the four cottages sat, and they were probably razed in the late 1960s.11 The three 1910 cottages on Howard D. Chase’s land remained. Chase and his wife, Lora Elaine Chase returned to live in Eastham year-round about 1975. Today the three dwellings, called Smith Heights Cottages, are the only buildings located on 1440 State Highway. In 1973 Chase and his wife, Lora Elaine Chase, built 1420 State Highway, which now serves as the rental office and the Chases’ home. In 1991 Howard Chase and two of his sons placed the property in trust.12 He died in 1995; Lora Elaine Chase operates Smith Heights Cottages today, and still hosts families who come to stay at the same cottages every summer.
Judging by the essential footprints of the three cottages, they appear to be the ones shown on Francis Smith’s 1916 plan of the site. The 1916 and 1946 plans of Smith’s and Chase’s land, which include these cottages, both depict the northernmost one facing the cove with an open or screened porch wrapping around to the north side; by 1946, the cottage, essentially a box in 1916, had been bumped out on the back and south side. The southernmost cottage in both plans featured a porch that wrapped around on both sides and a small ell on the back in 1916; by 1946 another L-shaped extension had been added to the rear. Particularly in their front facades, these cottages have in fact changed less than land and seascape they face. In 1916, Francis W. Smith’s deeds and plan state that below the Smith Heights bluff was a creek. By 1964 that creek had disappeared into a cove whose contours have been altered continually and significantly by the changes affecting the shoreline all along Cape Cod.
BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES see continuation sheet
Barnstable County Registry of Deeds. Barnstable County Registry of Deeds and Probate Building, Barnstable, MA.
Barnstable County Probate Records. Barnstable County Registry of Deeds and Probate Building, Barnstable, MA.
Belasco, Warren James. Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel, 1910-1945. Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1979.
Beyle, Noel W. Go Eastham, Young Man! Falmouth, MA: Kendall Printing, 1977.
Dunham’s Cape Cod Massachusetts City Directory 1929. New England Historical Genealogical Society, Boston. (Photocopy, Eastham Historical Society Archives).
Flink, James J. America Adopts the Automobile, 1895-1910. Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1970.
Flint, Sadie. Interview by Tales of Cape Cod, Inc.. Eastham, MA, 30 November 1977. Eastham Historical Society Archives, Eastham Public Library.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. “Schedule 2.—Productions of Agriculture in Eastham in the County of Barnstable, State of Massachusetts.” 1880. Special Collections and Archives, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Walling, Henry F. Map of the Counties of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket, Massachusetts. Boston: Smith and Bumstead, 1858.
Recommended for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. If checked, you must attach a completed National Register Criteria Statement form
Cottages A & B from north (l. to r., house in background outside area)
Cottages B & C from south (l. to r., bungalow in background outside area)
Cottages A, B & C from north (l. to r., new house in background)
Cottage C from south
1 James J. Flink, America Adopts the Automobile, 1895-1910 (Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1970), 58, table 1.1; Warren James Belasco, Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel, 1910-1945 (Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1979), 7. The inns were Nauset House and Comfort Inn, operated by Joseph Myrick Cobb and then by his son, Joseph A. Cobb; Mrs. Addie Snow and George A. Newcomb may have run boardinghouses in 1910; they were listed as having done so in the 1901 Cape Cod directory. Comfort Inn opened in 1907 and was open until 1930, according to Old Town Center Historic District Area Form, Massachusetts Historical Commission, 18 January 2001.
2 Henry F. Walling, Map of the Counties of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket, Massachusetts (Boston: Smith and Bumstead, 1858); “Schedule 2.—Productions of Agriculture in Eastham in the County of Barnstable, State of Massachusetts, enumerated by me on the 4thday of June, 1880. Silas H. Stuart, Enumerator”; Sadie Flint, interview by Tales of Cape Cod, Inc., Eastham, 30 November 1977, 5-6, Eastham Historical Society Archives, Eastham Public Library.
3 In 1923, Smith sold two parcels that had likely been part of his father’s farm. In February he sold a lot measuring 60 x 150 square feet to Hattie C. Williams of Wayland, daughter of Eastham’s Richard F. Smith (1832-96), who owned the Cape Cod Bay house at 1145 Kingsbury Beach Road. In July he sold thirty-nine acres on the bay to Leroy K. Houghton, then a public schoolteacher in Boston. Houghton planted a 111-lot subdivision in 1924. See Francis W. Smith to Hattie C. Williams, 14 February 1923, BCD 400:210, and Smith to Leroy K. Houghton, 19 July 1923, BCD 400:211.
4 The 1900 federal census enumerates Smith, his wife, and their daughter Amanda among the residents of properties on what is now U.S. Route 6, not in the area of his family farm. Though Sarah Smith was the daughter of Amanda Snow, her relationship to Johnathan Snow is not entirely clear. The latter was in Eastham by 1860.
5 Flint interview; “Plan of Lands of Francis W. Smith and of Sarah M. Smith, Eastham, Mass. . . 1916,” Barnstable County Plan 4:133, Barnstable County Registry of Deeds (hereafter cited as BCP).
6 Dunham’s Cape Cod Massachusetts City Directory 1929 is available in microfiche at New England Historical Genealogical Society and in photocopy at Eastham Historical Society Archives; see Francis W. Smith to Frederick H. Gooch, 31 March 1928, BCD 457:431.
7 Sadie Flint quoted in Noel W. Beyle, Go Eastham, Young Man! (Falmouth, MA: Kendall Printing, 1977), 62-63; the photograph of the Hunter cottage and Frances W. Smith’s house appear on this spread. See also “Smith Heights” in Beyle, Go Eastham, 74-75, which lists the names of other cottages, including Gooch. Given that Scudder, Gooch, and Hunter were all from Taunton, it seems reasonable to speculate that the McKechnie family also was. In 1910 there were McKechnie families in two sixth-ward households in Taunton—that of Donald, age 57, a school janitor born in Canada of Scots parents, and that of Allan, age 32, a baker with his own shop also born in Canada. Allan may have been Donald McKechnie’s son, as Allen, Donald, and Donald’s two daughters Elizabeth, age 28, and Lillian, age 18, stated that they emigrated from Canada in 1893. Donald and his Irish-born wife Mary stated that they had five living children in 1910.
8 Flink, America Adopts the Automobile, 72-73; Belasco, Americans on the Road, 143.
9 Francis W. Smith to Charles O. Knowles, 6 September 1895, BCD 275:57; Smith to Alfred O. Cole, 23 September 1940, BCD 573:110. See also “Plan of Land in Eastham, Mass. As Surveyed for Howard D. Chase Dec. 1946,” BCP 78:23.
10 Francis W. Smith to Sadie F. Flint, 9 February 1942, BCD 591:97; Smith to Howard D. Chase, 9 February 1942, 591:95; Chase Plan of Land, 1946.
11 By this time, Hunter Cottage, the one converted from an Orleans lawyer’s office, had been torn down, and Flint’s husband had built an additional cottage. The 1963 parcel shows four small structures along the north boundary of the parcel, bordering Howard Chase’s land; one may have been this fifth cottage; it also created Smith Heights Way. See “Subdivision Plan of Land in Eastham as Surveyed for Sadie F. Fllint November 1963,” BCP 181:81, and Beyle, Go Eastham, 62. In January 1964, two months after having registered her plan, Sadie Flint sold the largest plot of her four-parcel subdivision—three acres, including the four cottages facing the cove and the four outbuildings—to James G. and Mary F. Van Ryswood of Accord in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. The deed permitted the Van Ryswoods to put up a sign advertising cottages for rent, according to the town’s guidelines for such signs. It stipulated that the Van Ryswoods could build nothing else on the property other than a house and one more summer cottage; “however,” the deed continued, “the three small overnight structures may be enlarged and altered to housekeeping type cottages and any existing structures repaired or replaced.” This clause suggests that three of the four structures shown along the north boundary were cottages but were not equipped with kitchens. The Flints reserved for themselves about 1.7 acres in three parcels. In 1967, the Van Ryswoods subdivided their parcel into five lots. The plan shows that one of the cottages facing the cove had been taken down and not replaced and that two of the structures along the north bound had been removed for a northward extension of Smith Heights Way. The footprint of the southernmost cottage facing the cove is also quite different between the 1963 Flint plan and this 1967 plan. Sadie F. Flint to James G. and Mary F. Van Ryswood, 11 January 1964, BCD 1233:317. Sadie Flint died in 2003, having deeded the three parcels at Smith Heights to her son Albert and his wife Carole T. Flint in 1972 and 1985. See “Subdivision of Land in Eastham Mass. Made for James G. VanRyswood et ux . . . Nov. 1967,” BCP 227:73. Sadie F. Flint to Albert F. and Carole T Flint, 8 November 1972, BCD 1751:340; Sadie F. Flint to to Albert F Flint and Rosalyce Flint, 19 January 1985, BCD 4396:122.
12 Howard Doane Chase to Howard Doane Chase, Howard Doane Chase Jr., and Duane Chase, 30 April 1991, BCD 9859:1.