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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Old Orchard Cottage (Love!)

northfork 1929 fisherman's cottage

Mary and I had been summering on Long Island for almost 20 years, first on the Southfork. We'd had a sweet deal in the Hamptons as renters: An extended season for a low, low price - plus, more importantly, zero maintenance as the owners lived in the "big house" and took care of everything. Every summer had been devoted to the three B's: books, beach, and BBQ. We'd never even touched a blade of grass, except to spread a blanket to look at the stars. 

But there'd been this opportunity we'd missed a few years back to buy a little clapboard beach cottage in a community going co-op on the Northfork, amid the vineyards and potato fields. Right outside Greenport - a sweet little collection of 1930s cottages stood that had once housed brick workers from nearby brick cove foundry during hot summer months. Mary's sister Margaret, who did buy at Breezy Shores, ended up with a sweet deal, indeed. We'd visit her to catch up - and view her and Scott's latest renovations, as crappy panels were removed to reveal gorgeous original beadboard - and gaze out at the glittering water views from Adirondack chairs set on long, low porches, and mentally kick ourselves. 

So, maybe it was in the backs of our minds all along to look for a cottage of our own, I don't remember. What I do recall is that we saw it on a Sunday - a rainy Sunday in what had been a season of rainy Sundays. We'd exhausted our supply of fun rainy day things to do and as we were checking email we came upon a link from Margaret about a nearby cottage for sale. A small 1925 fisherman's cottage, it had been owned by only two families, the first owner a Baptist minister, who had it built. We went to take a look.

Originally 500 square feet, the cottage had doubled in size some time in the '80s or '90s when a great room and kitchen were added onto the back. The original front of the cottage was a small warren of three tiny bedrooms and a "front" room just big enough to hold a sofa and an armchair. The screened-in front porch was open to the elements and housed only a mounted deer head and some fishing poles. But the kitchen in the new addition was light and airy, with windows on all sides. But there were some charming original details, like the clawfoot tub in the bathroom. 

But the real showstopper happened when you stepped outside. The cottage was about 200 yards from the beach of Gardiner's Bay.

We were the first people to view the property, as the ad wasn't scheduled to appear until the following day. And we immediately fell in love and announced our intention to make an offer.That, as they say, is that. 

We closed in August of 2007, enjoyed the beach throughout that still-warm September, then rolled up our sleeves and got to work from fall through spring - with the goal of having it ready for us by the following summer. 

UPDATE: The cottage after we removed the shutters, had windows installed and renovated the front porch.                                 

cottage portch enclosed with Andersen windows
Summer 2008: Ross, James, Pat & Jack in front of the cottage, watching the July 4th children's parade

UPDATE: The cottage after we removed the vinyl siding and replaced it with cedar shakes, restoring some of her original charm.

cottage renovated with cedar shingles
Summer 2010
Close up of the cedar shakes.

cottage renovated with cedar shingles
Fall 2010

UPDATE: The cottage after we replaced the asphalt roof with cedar and replaced the front stoop.

cottage renovated with cedar shingle roof
Winter 2014
You can see how the white cedar shakes are beginning to turn gray at the bottom where they get the most moisture from proximity to the plants. They are only this tan color when they are new.

white cedar shake shingles
White Cedar Shakes
One day all the white cedar shakes will be a weathered gray. Had we chosen to renovate with red cedar, it would be turning brown instead of gray.

I favor the gray, and look forward to the day that the cottage is uniformly gray.