In 1927, Julia Shepley began a journal “to chronicle the progress and delays and obstacles and excitement of converting mother’s barn into the West Wind antique shop.” She went on to pen not only the rebuild of the barn, which was taken down from her family’s property on Scargo Lake and put back up on Corporation Beach in Dennis, but also the bold transformation of her life, from secretary to entrepreneur. In 1928, Julia finished the journal and the rebuild with the installation of a brick hearth fireplace – a “wedding present” from her mother to Julia and her partner Alice DeFord.

In 1976, Arnold and Maggie visited Arnold’s hometown of Dennis. “Before I even met his parents for the first time, Arnold said, ‘I want to take you to this house because one day it is going to be ours and I want to show you our bedroom’,” recalls Maggie through laughter. Indeed, per the will of Arnold’s Aunt Meg, who bought the house from Julia’s and Alice’s family, 185 Corporation would one day become Arnold’s and Maggie’s home. The bedroom or “nest” he showed her was, and remains to this day, a rustic loft under a vaulted ceiling of planks and beams. “He had a sense of humor,” says Maggie of her late husband. “By showing me the nest, he knew he was sweetening the pot!”

Maggie hypothesizes that the nest’s beams and planks were recycled from barrels used to harvest salt. “I just really hope someone will think, ‘How fun is this room? Nobody else has this room’,” says Maggie.

The pot was certainly sweetened because soon after, Arnold and Maggie were married at that house in front of its fireplace. Decades later, their children were also married at that house in front of its fireplace. And, over the years, 185 Corporation was where their family gathered to enjoy stories from Arnold’s library, dinners from Maggie’s garden, summers at its beach, and, of course, winters by its original brick fireplace – a timeless source of warmth, both literally and lovingly.

The home bears its original brick hearth and plank mantel fireplace, gifted to Julia and Alice by Julia’s mother. As Julia wrote in her journal, “Mother has rashly turned over $500 to us for it! My ‘wedding present’ she insists.”

“I can’t live here anymore without Arnold,” explains Maggie who has listed 185 Corporation for sale. “He could never see any point in going anywhere. He just wanted to be here, and so, the children came to him here. This house was the glue.” That “glue” bound a creative family, who, as artists and musicians, grew particularly attached to the highly unique, historic home. “I like the one-off of living in a house that could not have been mass produced,” says Maggie. “And, I like living in an antique, because I suppose I like communing with the past.”

Maggie is an avid cook, using produce from her garden as much as she can.
The sprawling home has two tasteful additions to its historic core, one completed in 1972 by architect Plummer Mills and another completed in 2001 by architect Legare Cuyler.

Maggie is, however, now looking to the future. As Julia rebuilt her barn and transformed her life with Alice in Dennis, Maggie will replant her garden and renew her life closer to family and friends in Falmouth. “I have just one condition to sell to a new family,” says Maggie. “That is, to love and appreciate that they are an outpost of a very different way of thinking about what a house and what a home should be.”

Excerpts from Julia’s first journal entry:
Summer 1927

One day in the summer of 1925 when Alice…and I were…drying on her beach after bathing when she first put The Idea into my head. I remember her saying why not both of us combine the earnings of our living with something we’d love doing, and then she suggested that when I retired from secreatarying (as I kept trying to do) we might support ourselves…by running a shop.
We…progressed to deciding that we must have a barn moved over on to Ada’s upper field…I didn’t dare to hope the family would give me mine to move away, so we kept scouting…but none of them thrilled us at all.
When I did broach the subject with mother she was very affable about it and…the boys felt it was too much for me to inherit the whole Dennis place. It worked out very well for me…all I really coveted was my barn.

Excerpts from Julia’s last journal entry:
Summer 1928

We had our opening yesterday in the most frightful hurricane of wind and rain I’ve ever imagined…But the way we sold things made us cheerful from the start…Mother staged a lunch party of rich buyers; and flowers and telegrams and messages kept pouring in so that we felt perfectly overwhelmed with how nice people were, and when we sank down wearily at suppertime we found we had taken in $525 and some coins. And if that is the beginning and on such a hellish day, we ought to make a go of it –

As edited by Mom, Maggie, Kristyn, Rosie, and Rose. It really took a village to do this story justice, so thank you.

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