Oldest Home in Chatham at Risk of Demolition

CHATHAM – One of Chatham’s oldest homes is at risk of demolition without intervention from the town.

Historical Commission Chair Frank Messina brought the issue to selectmen earlier this month to discuss ways to preserve the house.

Most of the difficulty in saving the house lies in that most of the 3 acre property is within the flood zone.

“If we can’t come up with some creative ideas, we could be using this particular treasure to the Town of Chatham,” said Messina.

The building on 68 Shell Drive was constructed for the son of Chatham’s founder William Nickerson around 1700, making it one of the town’s oldest dwellings.

In 1802, the rest of the currently standing five-bay Cape house was built by Solomon Howes.

Some of the original wallpaper bearing the 1802 date from that construction was discovered in 1972 during renovation work.

Though the building has gone through multiple additions and owners over the centuries, a section of it has still remained original, thanks to reconstruction and preservation efforts.

Messina hopes that selectmen could form a committee to help create solutions for the issue of its possible demolition.

“I was hoping that the Board of Selectmen could potentially form a small committee which would then pull in the stakeholders and do some brainstorming, maybe with the Nickerson Family Association, the Historical Commission, of course Community Development,” said Messina.

Messina said that there have been individuals like David Burnie of Coastline Construction who have offered to purchase it, but town laws still stand in the way of saving the building.

“There are some roadblocks. Not that we want to break the law, but we have to find some creative ways, in my opinion, to save this house,” said Messina.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

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