One of the most photographed, drawn, and painted scenes in Chatham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod is a scene including the lighthouse that marks the entrance into Stage Harbor. It is picturesque, standing by itself at the mouth of the harbor, reminding us all of days of yore when the lighthouse and its attendants protected all who approached or passed.
The Stage Harbor Light was installed in 1880 to compliment nearby Chatham Light in guiding the increasing fishing traffic into Old Stage Harbor, especially during bad weather and frequent thick fog. There are fun stories that can be found on the internet about the lighthouse and its keepers, even one about bootlegging liquor and storing it under the floorboards of the passageway between the lighthouse tower and the keeper's house. In 1933, to save money, the government removed the lantern and capped the tower, after which the property "fell" into private hands.
The Stage Harbor Light property was purchased by a school-mate's grandmother and her two brothers, in 1936. This school-mate and I attended the same school over 40 odd years ago where we only knew of one another and knew nothing about our common connection to Chatham - she as a "summer resident" and me as a "townie". It's thanks to the internet and Facebook that we have connected and learned more about one another over the last few years.
Emily's family has many branches these generations later, and the "seasons" (summer and shoulder) are divided as equitably as possible among the many related families. The property and buildings still have no plumbing, except for a single pump, nor do they have electricity - making a week-long stay on the point a wonderful, rustic adventure. Peter and I were recently invited by my former school-mate to see the lighthouse and property firsthand, and we jumped at the opportunity to see one of our favorite photographic subjects "up close and personal". It was a gloriously sunny, breezy Spring day - ideal for being out in the salt-air and ideal for climbing to the top of the tower to take in the 360 degree views of Stage Harbor, Harding's Beach, and the ever shifting shoals and beaches in Nantucket Sound. Emily and her family graciously gave us a tour of the house and tower, and then allowed us to photograph any corner that caught our eye. In our short stay, Peter and I saw evidence that days here are filled with swimming, kayaking, exploring, and reading on rainy days; and, nights are filled with simple food, conversation, laughter, and lots of card and board games.
This slide show is a small representation of the charm and beauty of this unique location, and is a token of our thanks to its current residents.
Photos by Peter Tooker & Claudia Ward ©2015
Music: "Summer Sailing", by Brian Carter