The History of the Cape Cod House

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 4th Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3e94khrv/
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Urban Living

A successful design is one that certainly stands the test of time, the Cape Cod design of house is one of the most popular in North America and still sells well today, not bad for a 17th century settlers home.

Cape Cod Cottage

The Cape Cod home is based on a style of house originating in New England in the 17th century, but today this style of home is found across North America, and this style was very popular with new home builders between the mid 1930s and the 1960s. This style is characterised by the use of a low, broad frames structure, and in north America would be termed as a one and a half story building with a pitched roof with end gables, they can be finished with many materials, including:

  • Brick
  • Wood siding
  • Vinyl siding (often replacing the wood used on older homes)
  • Bitumen shingles
  • Slate
  • Asbestos

The basis of the Cape Cod home is that it is a simple structure and can be made cheaply, yet stand the test of time. The original homes were designed to withstand the stormy, stark weather of the Massachusetts coast, where Pilgrims and other local inhabitants needed houses that provided safety from New England’s extreme winter climate, yet be cool during the summer months, to fight the chill, the central chimney structure and low ceilinged rooms were used to conserve heat, the pitch of the roof ensured snow did not settle on and damage the roof.

These houses could be described as short, stout, and simple, almost to the point of austerity - but they give an image of warmth and comfort

Known in the trade

Talk to a Real Estate Agent or Contractor about a Cape Cod home and they will already have a good idea about how it is laid out, the limitations, and what can be done with it. Such is the case with the most popular style of house in the USA and Canada.

According to About Home "20th Century Cape Cod houses share many features with their Colonial ancestors, but there are key differences. A modern-day Cape will usually have dormers, and the chimney is often placed at the side instead of the center. The shutters on modern Cape Cod houses are strictly decorative; they can't be closed during a storm."

The problems associated with heating the the modern Cape Cod home are most likely associated the the re-location of the central chimney of the 17th century design to the end of the house. We no longer have open fire places in each room as would have been the case in the original design, also modern homes need insulating and proper ventilation to ensure there is no build-up of moisture in the home, (see also and article from Home Energy Matters)

The popularity grows.

According to The Old House On-line "The term 'Cape Cod House' was used as early as 1800, in a comment by Yale College President Timothy Dwight on a visit to Cape Cod in Massachusetts" apparently by 1740 this design of house had been built throughout most of New England and by the turn of the 19th century had begun spreading across New York state and into Ohio and on to Michigan and across other American states and was even used as the design for many Canadian homes.

During the latter part of the 19th century the design dwindled in its popularity before seeing a revival in the 1920s and 30s as new low-cost homes were needed across industrial cities. Regional variations such as dormer windows of course started to be added over time and with some of the newer homes a complete second story may have been added in some cases with the pitched roof being elevated above the complete second story.

The interior of the original Cape Cod was simple by comparison to those built in the 20th century - but that is based on the evolution of family needs over the years. During the 17th century the upper floor may have been used for storage, this area being without any floorboards, or may have had one bedroom, without any windows.

Adaptability

There are many shapes that have the Cape Cod home at the heart of their design from the simple porch type extension shown here to the addition of a complete second floor. Some have been seen adjoining add on structures all to extend the modern style of the home, all making the upper floor more than a half floor, perhaps ensuring that all family bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs as opposed to the traditional style of one bedroom and the bathroom down stairs, as shown in the adapted style in the next section.

Imagre Credits

The images used in this article were by the following:

  • Old Cape Cod Cottage by vrbo.com
  • 1950 Cape Cod in Buffalo New York by Peter Giblett
  • The Cape Cods that are closeby by Peter Giblett
  • The Adaptable Cape Cod by Peter Giblett
  • Cape Cod plus by snugcottage.com

One thing is certain the Cape Cod design has captured the heary of many in North America.

Recent articles by the author

The following are some of the more recent articles that Peter Giblett has published:

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Tags

Canada, Cape Cod, Central Chimney, Extension, Homes, House, Low-Cost Homes, New England, Provided Safety, Settlers, Stark Weather, Starter Home, Stormy, Usa

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar snerfu
6th Nov 2014 (#)

Yes, they look delightful (just like fried cod...ha ha). A good house adds value to the country side where it is located.

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author avatar Ptrikha
6th Nov 2014 (#)

Weather adaptable housing is a great thing.

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author avatar viewgreen
6th Nov 2014 (#)

Interesting article... Thank you :)

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author avatar vandana7
7th Nov 2014 (#)

They look good, externally. I wonder how the internal plans are.

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author avatar tafmona
8th Nov 2014 (#)

thanks for sharing

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author avatar Retired
8th Nov 2014 (#)

One of these unpretentious, compact homes would suit me just fine.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
8th Nov 2014 (#)

Mike, I am sure it would be possible to find you one to invest in for a little fee. :)

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author avatar Retired
9th Nov 2014 (#)

I may take your offer into consideration, Peter.

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author avatar Retired
20th Nov 2014 (#)

They look lovely houses. I wouldn't mind living in one of those pictured.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
20th Nov 2014 (#)

They may look nice and in fact they are, but they are also on the small side. Many of those pictured are on my street.

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author avatar Judy Ellen
10th Jan 2015 (#)

I would love to walk inside one of these homes! I think they would make great homes for retired folks or couples just starting out! Thank you for writing on this!!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
10th Jan 2015 (#)

They are also one of the most popular homes in the USA and Canada.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
18th Jan 2015 (#)

Peter, I love this design. We raised our children in a home like this. It was a bit crowd at times but I loved it.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
18th Jan 2015 (#)

My comment was supposed to say crowded.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
18th Jan 2015 (#)

Nancy, they do have their limitations, but I guess part of the reason for their popularity is how easy they are to construct.

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