Two Old Houses in South Wellfleet

The next time you pick up your croissants and coffee at the PB Boulangerie on LeCount Hollow Road, and head for the ocean, you’ll pass the first two houses on the right side of the road.  Both are official Wellfleet historic structures with the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s “Form B” designating them as such.

Recently, Cynthia Blakeley, who grew up in one of these houses, sent me a few old photos her mother had saved.  I’ve added a copyright designation to them as Cynthia retains the ownership. They are attached at the end of this post.  From one of the notes on the back of these wonderful old photos from the 1930s, I learned that LeCount Hollow Road was once “Wireless Road,” a designation I hadn’t realized before.  

The first house on the right side of LeCount Hollow Road, just past the Bike Trail, is known as Squire Cole’s House. The house has no specific construction date, according to the “Form B.” But we know it was there in 1828 when the first bridge was built across Blackfish Creek, positioned “south of Collins S. Cole’s house.”  Squire Cole was also one of the owners of the South Wharf which operated at what we call today “the Old Wharf” on the south side of Blackfish Creek.

I’ve written about Squire Cole before as I told the story of the South Wellfleet General Store and its development over time. Collins Cole was the first to build a store in South Wellfleet, with his residence close by. His house has its back to the store, facing what was then the main road through Wellfleet that had to stay on the dry land at the head of Blackfish Creek.   

Squire Cole’s house was sold in 1889 by the Cole family members who had inherited an interest in it. The buyer, who paid $375.00, was Phillip Fawcett, an Englishman who came to the U.S. in 1872, settled in Boston as a house painter, married, and had two children. In the 1900 federal census for Wellfleet, he is listed as a widower, with two boarders in his house. In 1908, he married Mary Ann Jackson of Lowell — perhaps they met in Wellfleet, since she had purchased a lot of land in 1904 on Lieutenant’s Island, as had Mr. Fawcett.  The Barnstable Patriot regularly covered the Fawcett’s comings and goings in the decade or so after their marriage.  In 1913, the Town of Wellfleet voted to spend $100 to “improve the road near the home of Philip Fawcett to the Wireless Telegraph Station.”

Mr. Fawcett died in 1919. Mrs. Fawcett continued to live in South Wellfleet. In 1929 she sold the land and buildings her husband had purchased from the Cole family to C. Peter and Helen Clark. Mr. Clark was the son of Charles P. Clark who was the President of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, the owner of the Old Colony line that ran through Wellfleet. The older Mr. Clark had died from overwork in 1901. Mrs. Fawcett also sold a portion of her land to Mrs. Elmena Davis, wife of Emmanuel Davis, who built the South Wellfleet General Store we know today.

Cynthia Blakeley provided this description of Squire Coles’ house which the Clarks called “the Binnacle.”

The roof sports a weather vane topped with one of my uncle’s hand-carved geese.  The interior is a sketch of other centuries. Tiny rooms offer liminal spaces between larger rooms. The downstairs half-bath is shoehorned behind the rounded, plaster back wall of the steep circular staircase. Underfoot are wide, irregular pine planks. The sitting room has nine doorways.  Upstairs three of the bedrooms lead into one another without the courtesy of a hallway, while the other two are carved out of spaces under the eaves and behind the top of the curved stairwell. 

The Clarks had enough land next to their old Squire Cole house to add another house next door on LeCount Hollow Road. Their son, Lancaster Clark, moved the old South Wellfleet store, owned at that time by the Paine family, to the site next to his parents, naming the house “Storaway.”  Mr. Clark also moved the separate building in the back end of the store to the same lot. Cynthia Blakeley remembers the separate building as their “Summer House” which her mother rented out in the busy season.

Originally Squire Cole’s store, the two-story frame building had later become Alvin Paine’s store, and then the store of his son Isaac Paine, known as “Ikey Paine.” I’ve written about Ikey Paine here. By the 1920s, Ikey gave up he store, selling to other owners, and finally it went to Mr. Davis, who was able to build on an empty lot, for we now know the store was moved and became Lancaster Clark’s summer home.

Cynthia Blakeley’s uncle, Kenneth Blakeley, and his first wife, Ruth Anne Kemp, bought the “Squire Cole” home from the Clarks in 1946. Kenneth Blakeley moved to the Cape after the war to become a pilot at the Eastham Airport. Side story: yes, there was an airport in Eastham, operating on the “old Higgins estate” on Massasoit Road. The airport was the project of two veterans of the 3rd Air Force, Mike Diogo of Provincetown and Walter Myszkowski of Chicago. They planned to use their three Piper Cubs for rental, emergencies, flight instruction, and as a cargo flying service, flying freight to Boston. Their airport lasted until 1953.

Cynthia Blakeley’s mother and her first husband bought “Storaway” in 1955. he was a radio operator with the Air Force, stationed at Truro AFB. He used the little room as a “radio den.” Cynthia’s father, Robert, was Kenneth Blakeley’s brother. The home was sold in 2014 after Cynthia’s mother passed away.

Now that the story of the two houses is told, here are the Blakeley photos. Some have a note that they were taken in the early 1930s so I think we can assume they are Clark family photos, documenting their summer homes.  One photo is from the 1950s. The final photo had a lot of white space around it so the title is far below the image.

The Clark-Blakeley house as the General Store
Store moved awaiting renovation
Store is now Storaway, 1930
Storaway 1950s

This photo is labeled “train approaching South Wellfleet” but the amount of smoke makes wonder if it isn’t a brush fire near the tracks.

Note: The “Form B” for Squire Cole’s House confuses South Wellfleet’s two Isaac Paines.  Squire Cole’s daughter, Mary Ann, married Isaac R. Paine. He is not Alvin Paine’s son, Ikey Paine, who owned the South Wellfleet General Store.


Emails from Cynthia Blakeley

The Barnstable Patriot online at the Sturgis Library

The Cape Codder, online at the Snow Library


Family history researcher living in New York City.
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