In the fall of 2015, concerned citizens began to express how meaningful The Pink House was to the community to its owners the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Many of those people went on to form Support The Pink House (STPH) to work with the FWS to find solutions to restore it. In the interim, the Parker River Wildlife Refuge Manager worked with STPH to protect it from the elements through each year, shoring it up for storms and winter in particular.
In the first week of February 2016, STPH had our first house walk through with Pink House Advisor Bill Barrett, a local, trusted, and very experienced HIC/CSL licensed builder. From the tip of the cupola to the basement floor, we were pleasantly surprised to learn 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 it was not riddled with mold.
However, the windows, broken by time or pranksters while uninhabited, needed to be properly sealed and the basement had a low opening or two where animals could get in. We appealed to Refuge Manager Bill Peterson, to take care of these most basic things, and he did.
Since then, regular house health checks have been performed. Each time a little more gets done, and each winter The Pink House weathers our famously wild New England storms. With windows sealed, a house needs doors to be regularly open and shut. Fish and Wildlife Security goes in from time to time and we hope it helps.
In the Spring of 2017, we asked that the vegetation within about 3 ft of the house be cut away to allow the house to breathe, and for sun to dry formerly covered places. We know clearing brush made the house's need of new paint more evident, but it was much healthier for it overall.
KEEPING TPH RESILIENT
Remember the three 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 the foundation of every building 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 with water. Not only was some dry ground visible around the house's edges, Barrett inspected the house once the storms passed and was happy to find evidence of only about an additional inch or tow in the form of a water mark on the basement wall, above the normally damp floor.
The was built in 1925, and its clear they knew how to make 'em back then. But without inhabitants to care for it daily, The Pink House depends on this critical help by the Refuge while we work together on solutions.
It's high tide's peak as today another Nor Easter whips 60 mph winds across the marsh, yet we have confidence the Pink House will endure this storm and the coming winter, as it 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:
While all would love to see her with a fresh paint job, a new roof and with flowers and thriving berry bushes around the perimeter. We're working on it - and until then, keep in mind that her bones are good, and the basics of continually securing the envelope is being done.
Please let the Refuge know how much you and the community appreciates it!
Volunteer Spotlight: Sandy Tilton
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