The cottage at 61B Commercial showed up as a “Fish House” on a 1929 street atlas, but Elise M. Cozzi of Mystic, Ct., who now owns the building, has an even better idea what it was: a salt house for cod that once had a wharf in front of it. When Hazel Meyer (1909-1979) and Alice F. Bartoli (1914-2006) bought the main house at 61 Commercial Street in 1960, this cottage was still part of the tax lot. (The northern cottage, No. 61A, had been split off decades earlier.) “This house was my childhood each summer since 1962,” said Robin Kampf, the director of the 2016 documentary Love Wins, in a comment below. “We rented it from Alice and Hazel, who became members of our extended family.”
It appears that Meyer and Bartoli created the new tax lot in 1965. They conveyed it in 1971 to Leonard F. Conway Jr. and John V. Cunney Jr. After two intermediate owners, the building was purchased by Cozzi in 1997.
Cozzi and Penelope “Penny” Sutter were married on the beach in front of their cottage on 4 August 2008. This was just days after Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill repealing a 1913 law that prevented out-of-state couples from being wed in Massachusetts whose marriages would be illegal in their own states. (The law’s original malign purpose was to discourage interracial marriage.)
In 2010, represented by the builder Deborah Paine, Cozzi obtained a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals allowing her to raise the roof of 61B Commercial, add dormers, and reduce the dwelling density from three to two families. But problems lay ahead. In January 2011, after the building was stripped to the frame and elevated high enough to install a new foundation, Paine said she saw far more structural deterioration than she’d expected. At a hearing before the Historic District Commission in February, Paine said the structure was badly compromised by dry rot and timber-boring powderpost beetles. (“The post-and-beam frame wouldn’t even hold a bolt,” she later told Cape Cod Home magazine.) Though the commission unanimously permitted demolition of the remaining frame, The Banner reported in March that the razing “seemed to take many by surprise,” since the matter had not returned to the zoning board. But town officials said the proper procedures had been followed.
For a view of the main house, please see 61 Commercial Street.
For a view of 61A Commercial Street, please see 61A Commercial Street.
For a view of the new 61B Commercial Street, please see 61B Commercial Street.
¶ Last updated on 3 July 2018.
Elise Cozzi wrote on 18 April 2012: We know that it was a salt house for cod, and at the library we saw an old Sanborn map from 1889 that showed the wharf in front that went out to mid-tide so the boats could get in more of the time.