What is a legend?
Merriam-Webster says: A legend is a story coming down from the past, especially one particularly regarded as historical, although NOT verifiable.
The Pink House Legend certainly fits this definition! It seems to have been passed down for generations. So where did it begin?
We at Support the Pink House have researched and spoken to hundreds of people of all ages & still, we have no verifiable answer to where it got legs! Regardless, The Legend itself has seemingly become History!
Our own exhaustive historical research revealed documents a troubled marriage in the early 1920’s, between the first residents of The Pink House: Henry T.Cutter (known as Harry), son of Gertrude Cutter and husband of Ruth Morin Cutter, father of Henry T. Cutter Jr. (known as Harry Jr.). They moved into The Pink House in November of 1925, when Harry Jr. was just 2 yrs old.
After a short stay at The Pink House, Ruth was unhappy, having been left alone with baby Harry Jr., was unable to provide for her child. She followed her attorney’s advice and left The Pink House and Harry -- her husband of just three years. She took their young son with her to live at her mother’s home in Salem, MA.
Did The Legend begin here?
It is easy to assume local “historians” collected and evaluated information which was repeated around town. After all, in May 1926, Ruth Morin Cutter filed a suit for $50,000.00 in damages against Harry’s mother, Gertrude Cutter, who built The Pink House. Ruth alleges “alienation for the affection of her husband Harry," adding that his mother Gertrude maliciously persuaded Harry to leave Ruth, their home at The Pink House, and their young son.
It’s easy to imagine how the chatter around town might have been growing!
And perhaps that chatter surrounding Harry and Ruth's troubled marriage was played out in not so private places! After all, at one time, Harry’s parents George H. Cutter & Gertrude, were proprietors of a “café“ at 5 Inn Street, Newburyport, sometimes referred to as a tavern in a local gossip column called The Prattler.
Divorce papers were eventually filed in 1934, at MA Probate Court. By November 25, 1925, Harry and Ruth both claimed desertion as the reason.
So -- one can only imagine the “talk” that passed from one person to another over all that time! Is THIS how a Legend is born?
Those MA Probate Court records show that the Judge denied the divorce petition, but ordered Harry to pay child support to Ruth for the benefit of Harry Jr.
So, was The Legend depicting The Pink House as a spite house already established, or did that happen later on?
Harry T, Cutter was finally able to obtain a divorce in the State of Florida. He then married Beatrice Bowry in 1937. They had a son they named Stephen and remained married for the rest of their lives. it seems the new family returned to The Pink House to vacation as the children of Stephen Cutter have told us he enjoyed his visits to “the little Pink House."
The Cutter family eventually sold The Pink House to someone outside their family in 1947. Even though we've heard of many happy memories made by the several families who lived there since, and the many friends and kids who spent time there with them, The Legend lives on.
No matter how or when The Legend began, it is a unique tie between our community and this home on the marsh... a timeless treasure indeed. To learn more about our historical findings, visit our History Page.
By Sandy Tilton, Photographer, Author of Ralph n' Me, Support The Pink House Board Member.
As time has allowed us to venture out of our homes, with mask and sanitizer in tow, taking drives has never been more freeing than now. Mental health for some could mean either simply or desperately just physically getting out the house. So, no matter how one does that (and if you’re local and/or an athlete), a trip out to The Pink House is doable.
Although not legal to go beyond the marked signs and rope of the Federally owned property, The Pink House is always there! Enticement beholds with the smell of the salt air (or low tide, lol), touch of seasonal breeze, sound of birds (and if lucky, local airport planes), a mouth-watering reaction to being near Bob Lobster, and most of all, taking in the visual surroundings of our beloved icon.
I enjoy reading on our social media pages about the memories that families, visitors, islanders, and artists have had and the anticipation of again being near it. The more I live here (over two decades), and as my daughters get older and my creativity heightens, I still grasp that quickened beat every time I know there will be a nice sunset. Grab the camera, phone and keys (mask, sanitizer…) and try not to stop at the many other near-perfect-view spots on the way, before it’s too late. But you know what? It is usually never too late. And if it turns out the clouds overcome any show of what was meant to be, get curious on the perspective coordinates of that Pink House, and stay out even later!
No matter the time, season, or date (amount of clouds) … I challenge myself to find different views of The Pink House. Like the time I took a right onto Sunset Drive after the bridge onto Plum Island, and headed towards the Refuge entrance. It was high tide and never saw the house from that far away looking back at its eastern side. Then what fun to see a boat go by on the Parker River, “in front” of the house! Another time I went to turn around in the back lot of the Bob Lobster restaurant and could see over their fence to across the street. It looked like a typical house in a neighborhood with a fence, trees, and the Plum Island Turnpike before it.
The pandemic has this entire world going through the same circumstances. Just as social media gives us the choice to witness what we’re all doing at any given time, we also have the opportunity to experience feelings connected to someplace, when we actually can’t be there.
Let this time awaken your senses online, or take a drive (bike, walk, skate…)! Create your artwork roadside and send us a post! #besafe
By Kelly Page, Social Media Manager, Photographer, and Board Member of Support The Pink House.
The Pink House has again been included as part of Newburyport’s Yankee Homecoming event, “If This House Could Talk” (Pandemic Version). This is the Fifth Annual event, which takes place this year from July 26th to August 2nd.
The idea is for houses around the Newburyport, MA area to hang signs explaining or illustrating their unique story... which then creates a fantastic reason for neighbors, families and visitors to enjoy a healthy walk in the fresh air, discovering new neighborhoods and learning about the history of this area through it's unique homes.
It is sponsored by the Newburyport Preservation Trust and the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center. This year's super Pink House poster was created by Kelly Kieslich Page, an artist, photographer, social media marketer and Board Member of Support the Pink House Inc., and it has a lot of great information about this regional icon.
WalkNewburyport.Com also has a map of the participating homes and stories of the last five years. They state a nice list of what's different this year:
• Acclaimed local photographer Bob Watts will be roaming around taking pictures of the sign and the house, for inclusion in a “coffee table” gift book for the holidays. All proceeds go to the Preservation Trust. No one is making any profit here – it’s all for Newburyport – thanks to all the volunteers and participants!
• On the map we are including about a dozen “historical signs” or street scenes like the one below. Check them out. We looked for pictures where we could post them on the exact same spot they were taken!
• Paper lists will be made available at the library starting Monday; you can also download them here on this website. Watch for the post over the weekend.
• The map will also include homes with official Newburyport Preservation Trust plaques – add that to your walk!
So walk, run, bike or drive to learn the history of The Pink House, located at 60 Plum Island Turnpike in Newbury. The most scenic route is to take Water Street out of downtown, along the Merrimack River.
Please do adhere to ‘No Parking’ signs along the Plum Island Turnpike as you and respect that there's ‘No Trespassing’ on the property, and practice social distancing and wearing masks. Thank you!
Written by Rochelle Joseph
Support the Pink House just recently began working to become a non profit organization. We became a corporation and have filed our application for 501 (c) (3) status. We now are Support the Pink House Inc, and have our Board of Directors and Officers in place.
This of course enables us to take tax deductible donations when and if needed. And since we have no paid employees, 100% of the donations will go toward our work for the cause.
STPH has truly been a grass roots group of citizens, accomplishing quite a bit while incurring few expenses. The goal of our two fundraisers early on was to raise awareness more than money. What funds did come, after the minimal costs of the events, were to help with our operating costs, while the donation cans we have around town help defray our out of pocket costs for our brochures, bumper stickers and merchant decals. All the other costs of operations, like this website, professional fees, merchandise, banners, fliers, office supplies and what food and drink we put out at meetings have been paid for out of pocket by the good people who volunteer for this cause.
Support the Pink House was formed from a community groundswell in reaction to the public not wanting The Pink House torn down. We always saw our role to be keeping her standing and continuing to raise awareness and support as we worked to shepherd a solution to keep her in the community in perpetuity. In the 4 years since, STPH Founder Alison Odle looked into becoming a non-profit, as did our Chair, Rochelle Joseph, but never saw STPH as having to raise substantial funds to save the house ourselves, let alone help financially with stakeholder costs.
But on the long and winding path to finding a solution we have been asked to do all of that -- and more. It was not our plan, but we decided to do what we need to empower the public we represent to help in this new way, should the need arise.
1. Who ARE you guys, anyway? Who made this facebook page?
We are the original group of grassroots Pink House enthusiast volunteers working on saving The Pink House from demolition since 2015. You can see more about us here: www.supporthtepinkhouse.com We are the ones who created the logo you see on stickers, the ones who hold public meetings at PITA Hall, the ones who do interviews about the house, and host at Yankee Homecoming, and garner political support for the cause, and organize pink house art events, and so on. We do it all! But most importantly, we are here for YOU, working on the things you have said are important to you. We hope that you will engage with us on all things “pink house” as we have become somewhat of local experts on the house. We would appreciate our pages to be kept rumor, misinformation, and drama free for our own sanity and for the sake of the house. If you’re unsure of something you would like to post please just ask us first. We are very easy to contact through the messenger system. Thanks!
2. Is the house a SPITE HOUSE!?
As much as it adds to the mystique of the house, not really! We have conducted extensive research into the history of house which shows the spite house story to be inaccurate and more of an urban legend. Please see the history page of our website here: https://www.supportthepinkhouse.com/pink-house-history.html Of course that doesn't stop people from continuing to write and share stories about the Spite House legend, so we've accepted that it’s a bit of a losing battle to set the story straight in any kind of lasting way. Meanwhile, our research continues!
3. Why do you want to save the house, anyway?
There is a tremendous amount of public support for the house and we work to save it for the community, for the literally 1000’s of artists and photographers who see the house as a muse and for all who recognize the house as a uniquely iconic structure which brings interest to the area and lends to the authentic sense of place people feel about Plum Island. We see it as our own Motif #1, and feel it would be a shame to lose it.
3. What is the current status of The Pink House?
The Pink House is still owned by Parker River / US Fish & Wildlife. We have been in negotiations for several years on the process of helping the house change hands in a win/win solution. Since the property is owned by the federal government, this makes every part of this negotiation more of a challenge, but one that all sides have been working on in good faith to create the best outcome for the community.
4. Are there environmental concerns surrounding The Pink House?
Not really. Though none of us are environmental scientists, the research from our partners with more credentials has shown that the best thing for the environment is for the house to remain standing and not disrupt the high ground it sits on.
For even more answers to frequently asked questions, please see https://www.supportthepinkhouse.com/faqs.html
Written by Alison Odle
On the first Thursday following Labor Day, Newburyport was still warm, encouraging everyone to get out and enjoy the fleeting summer vibes. Colorfully dressed members of the the Newburyport Art Association and local ladies of fashion gathered at the NAA gallery on Water Street to enjoy an afternoon of champagne, strawberries and canapés, surrounded by pieces of clothing designed by Thierry Charlebois, president and designer of Le Galeriste in Montreal, Quebec.
The sold out event, now three years running, is the brainchild of Newburyport icon Claudia Harris, owner of The Elephant's Trunk, Newburyport. Her timeless upscale women's boutique on Inn Street is the key piece of the partnership, lending her keen fashion eye to guide the designs the event centers around.
The event holds a special place for Support The Pink House. In its inaugural year, the event featured the work of a single artist, Ron Emmerling, whose captivating images of the Pink House was imagined in fabrics. as a dress, scarf, several styles of dress shirt and men’s tie, as reported in the Newburyport Daily News. Now, three years later the event has grown to include 29 designs, representing work from a dozen local artists.
Read about the first event, and how the Pink House inspires many kinds of art HERE.
The Elephant's Trunk is a long time Pink House Supporter, carrying brochures inside the store and sporting our Merchant Decal prominently on their front window. Pop in for a visit this weekend!
Written by Lauren Fitzgerald. Lauren's memories of growing up on the North Shore are full of many memorable landmarks, and the Pink House has always been her icon of Plum Island. In addition to her work with Save the Pink House, she is active in conservation groups across the region. She is a featured blogger for The Ipswich River Watershed Association and the Mystic River Watershed Association, as well as a member of Friends of the Parker River.
By Rochelle Joseph
The iconic Pink House is now listed as on the Essex National Heritage's Scenic Byway. The byway is 90 miles long, linking 14 coastal communities to highlight period architecture, scenic views, recreational opportunities, and historic sights for locals, New England visitors and tourists from around the globe to enjoy.
This is BIG!
Minority Leader State Senator Bruce Tarr, prominently committed to preserve the Pink House among among the many important people who have stepped forward to help, was also a champion of the Byway, along with Newbury Town Planner Martha Taylor, and Newburyport's Senior Project Manager Geordie Vining. All have been kind to Support the Pink House as we pursue solutions.
We encourage everyone to check out the Essex National Heritage Scenic Byway site. It's a great resource when out of town guests are coming to visit but also for getting out of the house yourself and exploring your own back yard. They make it easy. Just scroll through their interesting list or search by category or town from Lynn to Salisbury -- and check out their maps!
We're so lucky to live in such a wonderful place. Make it a point to enjoy all our area has to offer -- especially as the weather is getting better using the Essex Coastal Byway as your guide. And if you come out to see the Pink House, post your photos, comments and videos on our Support the Pink House FB page, Twitter or our IG, using the hashtag #SupporthePinkHouse!
By Rochelle Joseph
From Day 1, Support The Pink House members have spoken to so many generous, community minded people who have gone out of their way on their own time to help The Pink House. They have looked over contracts and documents, referred us to important organizations, delivered research, confirmed facts, set us straight, given us the benefit of their expertise at key moments and generally cheered us on. We're incredibly grateful to them -- and the many many other people who have advised us. Because some of these people went beyond that, and took an active role on a regular basis to help the efforts to save the Pink House, they graciously agreed to be on our formal Advisory Board.
All of these folks have taken time out to help save the iconic Pink House because it's simply the right thing to do.
Paul Ayoub Esq. – Partner, Nutter McClellan and Fish, a real estate and philanthropy specialist, Chairman of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, former Chair of the Board of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
John Krawchuck - Executive Director of The Historic House Trust of New York City, in partnership with the Parks Department. Manages capital preservation initiatives and advocates for preservation of 23 publicly owned historic sites in the city's five boroughs. Registered Landscape Architect and architectural preservationist.
Phyllis Craine - Global Strategic Procurement at Rolls-Royce. Negotiating and drafting of Federal contracts, mergers & acquisitions, regulatory and administrative law.
Greg Jardis – Philanthropist, owner of Amesbury Industrial, Founder of the Jardis Center for Our Neighbors Table.
Stephanie Niketic - Board Member, Newburyport Preservation Trust, heads the Trust's advocacy program, and owns a house listed in the Newburyport National Register Historic District.
William Barrett – HIC/CSL builder, owner of Plum Island Construction, Plum island Property Management.
Will Gerstmyer – Principal, Will Gerstmyer Architects. Past AIA and LEED AP BD+C. Nationally recognized design experience of projects from the Olympic Games to The Pink House.
by Rochelle Joseph
Each year, the Pink House grows in its iconic status, as proven by the steady rise in Pink House themed items that you see for sale at the various festivals and bazaars all year. Tables and booths at RiverFest, Yankee Homecoming, Witches Night Out, First Night, and the many holiday bazaars, as well as galleries like the Newburyport Art Association, Paula Esty Gallery, and countless others all alone the Northern Seaboard, across several states. There are Pink House ornaments, and even Pink House clothing, designed in part by Claudia Harris at The Elephant Trunk in Newburyport, MA.
Below is Andi Ross, Plum Island resident and horticulturist, who is inspired by nature but also the Pink House! She is holding one of several of those paintings.
Kathy Culbert is a Plum Island Resident who is a self taught artist and does lovely work, in several mediums. Please visit her website at PlumIslandArtist.com to see the beautiful ocean themed gifts - painted wallets, bottles, driftwood, pillows and more!
And who was front and center when you walked in but these two lovely ladies, Sandy Tilton and Elaine Checchinelli! They are always the first to say "How can I help?" when the Pink House has any needs and it is much appreciated.
Sandy, a known nature photographer, was selling nice sized prints of her work, and several cards of her Pink House portraits. Elaine had her trademark and much sought after Mermaid hoodies and tanks which were selling like hotcakes. Both have many talents and have devoted them to helping the Pink House since Support the Pink House began.
Between them were three beautiful wood burns, created by talented woodworking artist Bill Comeau from Riverview Artisans of Bristol, NH. He generously donated them to be sold, with ALL proceeds going to Support the Pink House. Bill used three different photographs of Sandy's for these unique, one of a kind treasures. And I walked off with one!
The Pink House was even incorporated into one of the trees featured at the Sea of Trees Festival at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, MA. It was done by Debbie Fournier and her sister to honor their mother, who loved the Pink House. This is a screen shot from the Pink House Instagram account, run by artist and PH volunteer Kelly Page.
If you do Pink House art of any kind, and would like to donate a piece to an upcoming fundraiser, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the Contact form on the website in our menu above!
By Rochelle Joseph
It's official! The Pink House is now listed on Trip Advisor as a Place of Interest in Newbury/Newburyport, MA!!
This very exciting development happened just last week -- and she already has five 5-Star reviews, and a few photos added!
It's likely that you use or at least have heard of Trip Advisor, which is the go-to site for anywhere you want to travel and what you will see and do once there. People can put up their own photos and reviews of any hotel, restaurant, and point of interest to help others make decisions about their own visits.
With The Pink House listed as a Place of Interest, it encourages people who would be visiting our area to learn that she exists, and why she is something they would want to check out in their travels.
If you are so moved, The Pink House herself would really appreciate your taking a few minutes to do a little volunteering for the cause and write the house you love a nice review saying why she means so much to the community, what about her captures your imagination, inspires you or has made you want to drive out to visit.... so those looking at Trip Advisor when coming to the area will too!
You can CLICK HERE ON TRIP ADVISOR to go right to her listing. Thank you!
And many thanks to Ben Drew at Trip Advisor, who made his own pilgrimage to see the pink lady and captured some truly stunning photos of her - the above being one, but our screen shot here hardly does it justice. Please click on the link to see them on the site!
**We'd appreciate if you do not post articles about The Pink House as The Spite House as we've been researching her origins and there's a good chance that is urban legend**.