Sally grew up in a New Hampshire town of no more than 1,000 people. There, she would stay up late, listening to her “illegal” radio which would sometimes pick up a country western station far from New England. “I remember one of its ads saying, ‘We have genuine rhinestone rings that look just like diamonds’,” recalls Sally with the best accent she can muster. “And then, it would play what I thought in my teenage mind were really stupid songs.” Since, Sally has moved from New Hampshire to the immaculate 34 Salt Marsh Way in North Chatham, Massachusetts, taking several, often unplanned stops in between. She also has more than come around to country western music. “If I’ve learned one lesson in life,” says Sally, “you can’t make your plans too firm and you can’t set your mind too strong.”

Sally’s first stop was a small boarding school in Massachusetts where she met “a mix students from all over the world” including Monte. They were both new sophomores. He spent the first 13 years of his life in Latin America and would spend the rest of his life with her – well, for the most part. “He was going off to one college and I was going off to another, so we formally broke-up before leaving which was the sensible thing to do,” says Sally. “But that just didn’t seem to work! So, we got back together.”

One June afternoon five years later, Monte and Sally got married at their high school’s chapel and then drove straight to Cape Cod. Specifically, they drove to “the little house” – a home that was built by a member of Sally’s family in the early 1800s. “We got married in the afternoon and were at the house by night, where, as a surprise to me, Monte arranged a lobster dinner for our first as a married couple,” remembers Sally. They went on to make more, often unplanned stops together, living in California, Chile, New York, Florida, Connecticut, and Texas. While in the latter, they became enamored with country western music, especially that of Willie Nelson. “I didn’t really like his voice at first,” says Sally. “But he came to teach me the meaning of charisma.” To this day, Sally remains enamored. “A recent album of Willie’s has a song with a lyric I particularly resonate with,” she says. “It goes, ‘I don’t want to be the last man standing, but then again, maybe I do.’”

Monte and Sally did eventually have a plan prove true – Monte’s retirement at 60-years-old from an impressive legal career. “He wanted to go out of the workforce on his own terms,” explains Sally. He then went nearly straight to 34 Salt Marsh Way, where they were commissioning a dream home neighboring the little house. Sally admits that Monte took far more interest in the project than she did. “In a second life, he would have been an architect,” says Sally.

34 Salt Marsh Way represents a new interpretation to classic Cape Cod architecture by incorporating magnificent midcentury modern design. At 8,000 square feet, the home was planned to not only host generations, but to also last generations. A copper roof and bronze railings exemplify the measures Monte and Sally took. The home was also finished with the highest quality craftsmanship. For example, the trademark cherry woodwork was installed with no apparent fasteners “so it looks like seamless cabinetry,” explains the builder and distant cousin to Sally, Steve Nickerson.

Other features inside include a wine cellar and an elevator as well as smart lighting, gas radiant heating, and motorized shades. Most distinct, however, is the natural light, made abundant by the architect’s thoughtful orientation of the home. “It is a very long building that is segmented into rooms,” explains the architect and also distant cousin to Sally, Kenney Nickerson. “Every room is transparent.” Indeed, wherever inside, the “wild” landscaping to the east is apparent as is the “cultivated” landscaping to the west, which is complete with stone fountains, a firepit, as well as a gracious lawn edged in serpentine stone seating. Overall, 34 Salt Marsh Way spans 2.5+ acres as well as an adjacent 40,000 square foot lot prime to build another house. Beyond the ultra-private property is the serene North Chatham, a coastal neighborhood proximate to the bustling Main Street of downtown Chatham.

Their plan continued to prove true until Monte was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. So, after two golden years together, Sally altered their plans, becoming Monte’s caregiver. She found comfort in Monte’s unwavering smile. “He would smile at anyone who smiled at him, even if he didn’t know who he was smiling at!” says Sally. She, however, also remembers “one very sad time.” “Very sweetly he asked, ‘Now whose house is this?’ And I said, ‘this house?’ And he said, ‘Well, yeah.’ And I said, ‘It is ours, honey.’ And he said, ‘Oh!’” explains Sally. She distraughtly woke up at 4:00 a.m. thinking, “What am I doing here? He doesn’t even know he is in his own house.” So, Sally again altered their plans, making the difficult decision to move Monte to a memory care facility. Eight months later, Monte died peacefully.

Sally is now moving forward. Despite her house’s elevator, she is making her way up stairs, resolute to stay strong. She is also making her way down to the little house as she is looking to sell 34 Salt Marsh Way. “I am going to miss the light, the way the sun rises and sets over this house,” says Sally. At the little house, she will continue her life made full by daughters, grandchildren, friends, and Willie Nelson singing, “I don’t want to be the last man standing, but then again, maybe I do.”

As edited by Mom, Sally, Phyllis, and Rose. Thank you!

  1. Phyllis N Power says:

    Thank you Meredith for sharing this amazing estate. Incredibly built and impeccably executed design. Low maintenance and potential for guest house and more is a bonus…beautiful!

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