Purchase of the Week: 143 Wauwinet Road
By the Numbers
Address: 143 Wauwinet Road.
Structure(s): Main house, garage
Seller: Peter K. Kafer, Karen K. Lindgren and Lynn Kafer of West Chester, Pa.
Buyer: Smithburg, Inc. of Key West, Fla.
Details: A large beach house with unparalleled views of Nantucket Harbor, the Atlantic Ocean, the Haulover and Coatue, this house has been on the market for more than five years. First- and second-floor decks offer stunning views of the beach-and-dune environment, the house is walking distance from Coskata Pond and its woods, and The Wauwinet. The house itself has a bit of Nantucket natural history to it. Named "Fo' Castle", as many houses on Nantucket have names, the Kafer's former summer house has been in the family since it was built for Lester Kafer in 1929 by Arthur Norcross, then the largest house in North Wauwinet. Norcross built the Kafer house in the exact location that the Haulover was opened by a violent winter storm in December 1896. Before motorized fishing existed, fishermen in their dories, rather than row all the way around Great Point to reach fishing grounds east of the island, pulled oars up to the harbor shores in Wauwinet and hauled their dories over the dunes and relaunched them in the ocean thereby saving loads of time and energy. Decades of this practice gradually harrowed a trench from harbor to ocean through the dunes. When the storm struck, the storm surge waves easily found their way through the trench and into Nantucket Harbor. The storm widened this temporary opening and then erosion and accretion kept it open for 12 years, the north side of the new opening eroding northward with the south side of it building northward. The movement north of this opening ended in 1908 when the heavy soils of gravel and clay at the Coskata Woods slowed erosion of the north side of the cut enough for the south side to catch up and eventually close the opening. This closure formed the tidal Haulover Pond.
Peter Kafer, having spent every summer of his life but one at his family’s house since his birth in 1955, sounded like he understood what this process means, when he talked with conviction several years ago about living on the beach at the Haulover, in my second book, "Nantucket: A Natural History": “Wauwinet villagers, as I’m sure you have observed, are warm, giving, helpful and accommodating to strangers, and as fatalistic as the ancient Greeks in our respectful obedience to the God Poseidon. It’s just part of our charm.”