Real Estate: How a family saved a historic Cape Cod in Orient

08/23/2014 10:00 AM |
Michael and Alison Ventura outside their historic Village Lane home in Orient. The Cape Cod dates back to the 1700s. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Michael and Alison Ventura outside their historic Village Lane home in Orient. The Cape Cod dates back to the 1700s. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

On picture-postcard-pretty Village Lane in Orient, residents worried not long ago about the fate of one of the street’s genuine treasures — a simple but handsome Cape Cod house that may date as far back as the 1700s.

Neighbors watched with dismay as the front stoop of the house at No. 1780, in the heart of the hamlet’s prized National Historic District, disintegrated — one of them repaired it gratis — and a covered porch tilted so precariously that the owner had to remove it. They saw asphalt shingles on the roof that had totally lost their shape and a peeling exterior paint job that signaled “dwelling in distress.”

“Most people would look at it and say it’s a teardown,” recalled James Garretson, a Village Lane resident and architect who’s vice-chairman of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Indeed, rumors circulated that someone wanted to buy the house and demolish it in order to run a driveway through the property.

The house immediately to the north had already been demolished and replaced, to the consternation of many residents, although that occurred before the establishment of the landmarks commission. (Now, a property owner in the historic district must prove to the panel that a structure is unsalvageable before being allowed to demolish it.)

As it happens, however, 1780 Village Lane, described by Orient’s Oysterponds Historical Society as a “five-bay story-and-a-half Cape Cod,” experienced a much better fate.

That’s because David Terry, who inherited the house from his mother but lacked the resources to restore it as he would have liked, sold it in late 2012 to Alison and Michael Ventura, who had the wherewithal and, by all accounts, the good taste to transform it into a residence befitting Orient’s lovely Village Lane.

When the Venturas, now both 41, first saw the bedraggled dwelling in the spring of 2012, with its “For Sale by Owner” sign, Mr. Ventura said recently, “I thought, ‘No way.’ It was beyond consideration.”

But consideration came quickly — very quickly. “By the time we had reached the end of Village Lane, we had already called the owner,” added Ms. Ventura. The house’s fine lines and its proximity to Orient Wharf, just a few hundred feet away, had captivated them.

Still, the couple, who also live in Westchester County, were wary enough about the property that they weighed purchasing it for four months before going to contract.