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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Shipman

The Pink House of Plum Island: What is it's History? Can it be Saved?

According to the organization Support the Pink House, the Pink House of Plum Island (which you must drive past on your way to the nature preserves, beaches, and little oceanside town of Plum Island- or while eating at Bob Lobster right across the street) was never a spite house.

It was built in1925 by the Cutter Family. Harry, Ruth, and their infant son Harry Jr lived in it for a couple years before the couple separated. Most of its history after that was of a summer home.

When I painted my two versions of the scene a few years ago, the history I was able to find online was the legend that the Pink

House was built as a cruel parting gift from a man who wanted to punish his ex-wife by building an uninhabitable house for her on a salt marsh. As part of my Land Secrets series, I included text hidden in the grass explaining the legend in both painting. The paintings in Land Secrets are all landscapes with the history of the land and the plants growing there written among the wild plants.

The real story is less tantalizing, and more sad. Harry left Ruth alone with their baby in the house for a week at a time with little money and no transportation, except what she could get from her neighbors and friends. He, meanwhile, would stay at his mistress's apartment in Boston, whom he married after the divorce. The true history as well as the complete legend is here.

So for me there is a twinge of despair hanging over the land and structure, which makes it more attractive to me than if it history was entirely happy. Most of us can relate to feeling abandoned and desperate at some point in life.

But now there is an issue other than the controversy over the house's origins. According to Support the Pink House, "On March 21, 2024, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife (FWS) announced their intention to proceed with their plan to remove The Pink House from the land at 60 Plum Island Turnpike, after declaring that land trade options had been exhausted." Read more here about the efforts made to save the house and the current state of affairs. Support the Pink House's stance is that as long as the Pink House is standing there is hope.


The Pink House of Plum Island

24"h x 20"w

oil on board with oil on paper collage

The Pink House of Plum Island

20" x 20"

oil on canvas with oil on paper collage

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