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Eric Marvin

Cape Modern

All photo’s taken by author (Eric Marvin) on December 30, 2003.

        Ask anyone who knows anything about Cape Cod and they will tell you it’s a land full of hard workers, free thinkers, and anyone else that is outside the realm of what could be called normality. Those who have visited the Cape, as it is affectionately known to those it has affected, claim that it is “the most beautiful place on earth.” 

            Traditionally, the Cape is known as a big vacation destination for the city dwellers. Throughout history, this has usually defined the well-to-do of society. The homes that they favored were the traditional beachside homes that are now associated with Cape Cod architecture. If one were to take a look at these homes, it would be a safe assumption that the Cape was tradition-bound, but as one begins to delve further into the minds of the Cape Codders, it soon becomes apparent that the Cape is a very progressive region of the country.

            These people enjoy the simple life. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Modern movement made an impact here. There are about three dozen or so of these Modernist homes spread out over four towns. The Modern movement, epitomized by the Bauhaus school, resembled how these people always lived: simply and in harmony with the natural surroundings. Flat roofs, unobstructed views, and functionality are the common denominators that link these homes together. Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Eero Saarinen, Serge Chermayeff, and Paul Weidlinger are just some of the architects of this style who built homes in this region.

All photo’s taken by author (Eric Marvin) on December 30, 2003.

            America may not have been ready for Modernism in the 1930s and 1940s, but the Cape was. This area was soon the favored vacation spot for the said architects and their associates in the modern art world. They set up there own little villages secluded from the every day realities. They would sit here and discuss the most pertinent issues of the day, while drinking cocktails and enjoying the spectacular views of the Cape.

         The Cape is someplace very special. It has everything from tradition to modernism and, yet, it all appears homogeneous. The native people understand this, as did the Modern architects, evidenced by their structures. This area is famous for its past as well as its present. And that is what truly makes this place “the most beautiful place on earth.”



           Eric Marvin received a BS in Architecture from the University of Hartford. During the summer of 2003, he interned at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA, where he helped conserve medieval suits of armor. His interests lie in adaptive re-use and sustainability.


Thesis Advisor: Rolf Achilles, Adjunct Associate Professor; Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Historic Preservation                                        

Thesis Reader: Tim Wittman, Adjunct Assistant Professor; Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Historic Preservation






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