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.