From our friends at the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, comes this call for action supporting the Wellfleet Historic Review Board’s effort to maintain a demolition delay list. Preservation can be a tricky cause in some instances, and as a real estate broker, I have been embroiled in one or two. But in the case of a Breuer house on Cape Cod, it would seem to be clear cut. Please see my letter in support below.

 

Dear members of the Wellfleet Historic Review Board,

I write as — in order of priority — someone greatly interested in modernist architecture; a real estate broker who specializes in marketing this architecture; founder of a blog that concetrated on this architecture; a member of Docomomo New England (http://www.docomomo-us.org/); and a member of a family with a home on Cape Cod.
I am writing in support of the Wellfleet Historic Review Board’s efforts to include such architectural gems on the demolition delay list.
Such homes, at very least, deserve the careful consideration that should come as part of a year-long demolition delay. We have such a delay in Lexington, where all structures deemed to have even the slightest bit of cultural significance are on such a survey list. With three highly important post-war mid-century modernist developments, Lexington shows a great appreciation for the modernist period of its long and illustrious place in American history. And this is a town where “tear-downs” of modest homes in favor of plan-book “McMansions” is the rule rather than the exception.
Sadly, the window of time in which the philosophies and principals of modernist design flourished here in New England was a small one. This is unfortunate and somewhat perplexing given the progressive spirit and history still alive in the arts, technology, and academic institutions and business in Eastern Massachusetts. Perhaps we are to see a resurgence that would let the region start to catch up with the West Coast, Southwest, and other parts of the country (and world). If the upsurge in home-buyer interest, and the attention such architecture and design sensibilities currently evidenced in popular culture is any indication, we may very well see such homes being built again around the region.
Until that day comes, however, architecture from the likes of Bauhaus founders and Harvard Graduate School of Design leaders like Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius, as well as proteges Ben Thompson, Hugh Stubbins, Eero Saarinen, Henry Hoover, Ira Rakatansky, Carl Koch, and so on must be appreciated and preserved.
Just as a community would be expected to protect its Federalist and Greek Revival Colonial-era homes, — or, as in the famous case of the beach resort town Cape May, NJ, its authentic collection of Victorian houses — so should Wellfleet show for its fortunate place in modernist history. Indeed, the tours that the Cape Cod Modern Home Trust provide of the Wellfleet and Truro homes are extremely popular and renowned around the country, if not the world. That should be indicative of the significance of the architecture.
Thank you for your consideration.
Warmly,
Bill Janovitz

Bill Janovitz
Hammond Residential Real Estate
1775 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, MA 02420
781.856.0992 mobile