The Dennis Historical Commission has renamed their annual Preservation Awards, in memory of Burt Derick, to the Burt Derick Preservation Awards. These certificates go to owners of remodeled home who have maintained the historical significance and or architecture of the home with the remodel. This years awards include several Dennis Port homes. The following article was in The Register weekly newspaper and written by Nicole Muller.
May 31. 2014 6:00AM
‘The secrets that lie within:’ Dennis preservation awards named for Burt Derick
While White would never claim that this event trumps more critical town business, he maintains that Burt Derick’s presentation of town history was perennially interesting, amusing and informative. With Derick’s recent passing, the torch was passed to Dennis Port native and longtime historical commissioner Phyllis Horton, who announced that the commission has unanimously voted to name the award after Derick.
“Burt reveled in discovering the history and the secrets that lie within this town’s old houses,” said Derick’s widow Ruth Derick. “He was delighted when new owners found the time and the energy to preserve their history.”
The owners of five homes in three villages were honored for their efforts Tuesday night.
The Aunt Sophie and Horace Chase House, a small Greek revival constructed circa 1854, sits at 202 Upper County Road in Dennis Port. Sophia Ann Kelley was born in Dennis Port in 1836 to Bangs and Priscilla Kelley. She married Horace Chase of Harwich in 1849, and in 1854, the couple purchased the Upper County Road land from Sophie’s father and built a three-quarter Cape house.
Unlike most brides, Sophie was a medium. “She could find things that were lost, including lost husbands,” Horton said. “Sometimes a Cape mariner would become enamored with a tropical paradise or a lovely young woman and decide to stay on in that paradise, not giving much thought to the family at home. Sophie could hold a piece of his clothing and tell if he really had been lost at sea or was living elsewhere, and where he might be.”
After holding the hand of a lady who had lost her wedding ring, Sophie directed her to her pea patch, where she had dropped the ring while planting. She located a missing child after touching a piece of his clothing.
An herbalist famous for her medicines, spring tonics and love potions, Sophie attracted people from miles away. “Adults respected her, but young people began calling her a witch,” Horton said. “In truth, she was a remarkable woman with a great gift that she freely shared.” Owners Donald and Andrea York have upgraded and modernized Aunt Sophie’s house while maintaining its original profile.
Irina S. McPhee, owner of the Pastiche gift shop, was recognized for her preservation of the 1860 Captain Ira S. Baker House at 8 South St., Dennis Port. Born in 1834, Ira Baker married Eliza Ann Studley in 1857 and bought land to build his bride a home from his father Joseph K. Baker, a prominent merchant, wharf owner and legislator of Dennis Port.
A sea captain, Ira followed the sea until 1872, when he came ashore and operated a sail-making business until 1882, when he opened a shoe store he operated until his death in 1890, Horton said. In 1897 Capt. William C. Wheldon, a Master Mariner, bought the property where he lived until his death in 1935, after which his descendants summered in the house until the 1950s, when it was sold to Henry C. Maloney.
Bernard Drapeau and Patricia McKenna have preserved the Ensign Rogers/Thomas E. Chase House at 208 Sea St., Dennis Port. “The original part of this house was built in the 1820s by Ensign Rogers and his wife, Charity Wixon,” Horton said. Ensign died in 1825. In 1838, the couple’s daughter Rebecca married Thomas Eldredge Chase, and the newlyweds moved in with Rebecca’s mother. In 1848, the Rogers’ heirs sold the property to Thomas and Rebecca, who had nine children, making it necessary to enlarge the house. He did so in a modified Greek Revival style. The house was sold out of the family in the 1940s.
Steven Martin and Cynthia Robbins have restored the 1768 David Baker Jr. House at 527 Main St., South Dennis. Martin is a descendant of first settler Richard Sears, giving him deep Dennis roots. “The lovely full Cape house is one of six 1700s south facing houses in South Dennis,” Horton said. “As was the early custom, houses were placed to take advantage of the sun coming into their front windows.
David Jr. married Jean Baker in 1767 and built this house the following year, a copy of the house his father David Sr. owned at the intersection of Route 134 and Upper County Road. “Over the years, several other Davids lived here,” Horton said. “Most of them were sea captains or mariners.”
In the 20th century, this was the summer home of Dr. Vannevar Bush, a scientist, inventor and educator who served as a dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later as president of the Carnegie Institute. “In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt selected Dr. Bush to lead a think tank of 30,000 scientists to develop ideas and inventions in case the U.S. was drawn into WWII,” Horton said. The team perfected radar, guided missiles, penicillin and the atom bomb. Bush and his wife Phebe are buried in the South Dennis Cemetery.
Mary Van Loan and the late Jane Pomeroy have preserved the ca. 1760 Deacon John Sears House at 27 North St., East Dennis. The son of Capt. John Sears and Priscilla Freeman, John Sears married Deborah Crowell in 1738. In 1739 Rev. Josiah Dennis admitted the couple to the Congregational Church of the East Parish, and in 1768, Sears was chosen as deacon, an office he held until his death in 1791. The Sears’ son Capt. John Sears is credited with inventing the saltworks that produced salt in large quantities and for which he received a citation from the U.S. Congress.