Each year since the fall of 2015, when Support the Pink House was beginning to form, we have worked with the Refuge to protect her from the elements through the year, shoring her up for storms and winter in particular.
In February 2016, we had our first walk through of the house with Pink House Advisor and volunteer, Bill Barrett, a local, trusted and very experienced HIC/CSL licensed builder. From the tip of the cupola roof to her basement floor, we were pleasantly surprised to find The Pink House envelope was in great shape. There were no leaks from the roof, no cracks in the foundation, all the windows were completely aligned and she was not riddled with mold or asbestos as rumored.
However, the windows, broken by time or pranksters while uninhabited, needed to be properly sealed, not just partially boarded up, and the basement had a low opening or two where animals could get in. We appealed to the Refuge Manager, Bill Peterson, to take care of these most basic things, and he did.
That was how our work to secure the house while we looked for a solution began. Since then, regular walk throughs have taken place. Each time a little more gets done, and each winter The Pink House weathers the storms.
In the Spring of 2017 we asked that as soon as the first greening came, that the scrub within about 3 ft of the house be cut away, to allow the house to breathe, and for the sun to warm formerly covered places. With windows sealed, a house does need doors to be open and shut from time to time. The Pink House has USF&W Security and other personnel going in and out of her enough that we hope that aspect is somewhat offset. We know clearing brush made the house's need of new paint more evident, but it was determined it was healthier for her.
Remember the 3 Nor'Easters we had in a row earlier this year? The ones that came during a full moon, unusually high astronomical tides and with one storm moving so slowly that the tides did not have a chance to recede for three cycles while it poured? The entire PI Pike flooded over -- and as the Beachcoma's heavy trash bins floated toward the PI Grille and water lapped at every structures' foundation from PITA Hall to the dozen or so houses across from the Pink House in Plum Bush Downs, we wondered how much of the Pink House's basement may have filled up. Bill Barrett went in to check after the water cleared and was happy to find only a water mark of only another inch or so on the wall above the normally damp basement floor.
We write at high tide's peak and today's Nor Easter whips at 60 mph (and yes, the moon was nearly full last night..), yet we have confidence that things will endure this storm and the coming winter, as she has in each of the last 90 some years. Why? Because after our meeting in mid-September, the Refuge is kindly doing more extensive preventative work, which includes:
The Pink House was built in the mid twenties and they apparently knew how to make 'em back then. So while all would love to see her with a fresh paint job, or thriving berry bushes growing around the perimeter, which would vastly improve the look of the house - keep in mind that her bones are good, and the basics of continually securing the envelope is being done. And that is much appreciated by the community.
By Alison Odle
Sandy first started volunteering for Support The Pink House in 2016 on the morning of our first day ever at our Yankee Homecoming booth. Sandy jumped right in with enthusiasm and positive energy, and helped make our booth a success throughout our two year stint at the local festival.
Sandy’s love of the natural world, for the area’s coastal landscapes & wildlife, and for unique and idiosyncratic scenery are evident in her photography which she has become well-known for in the area. A regular poster on our social media pages, Sandy’s memorable images of The Pink House in all seasons demonstrate her versatility. Her dream-like photo of the pink house in the rain has become a pink house fan favorite.
Sandy is also well known for her work on the local Storm Surge group that works on protecting & planning for the area’s community’s affected by rising ocean levels & other environmental factors. In fact, her work on documenting erosion on the island played a role in her getting involved with the efforts to save & preserve the Pink House, as she would often pass the house and make observations. When she learned the house was facing uncertainty, she felt she needed to help out; to “preserve a piece of our local history that is held so tightly in so many people’s hearts.”
One thing people might not know about Sandy is that she is also a skilled historical researcher. When we put out a call to action searching for people to help investigate the elusive history of The Pink House, Sandy again dug right in and went to work, often spending countless hours poring over historical documents in local libraries and online.
In addition to all this, Sandy has also helped out on our Holiday Art Auction, our Flatbread Pizza Fundraiser & Silent Auction, and has continually helped with our outreach efforts through sharing her fantastic Pink House photos, writings, and helping us get the word out.
Why she decided to get involved
Growing up in Ipswich, Sandy has fond memories of spending time on Plum Island.
“..like so many others, passing by The Pink House on Plum Island Turnpike, always raised my curiosity.” She also fantasized about living there and the house became a harbinger for her on her travels to the island,“…seeing it along the way signaled the start of an awesome day, seeing it along the way home, signaled the end of an awesome day....anticipation & reflection, both wonderful!”
Where you can see Sandy’s work
Currently: Riverview Artisan’s Gallery, Bristol NH