The summer people (those who own houses and visit Woods Hole mostly in the summer) really know how to live — yachts waiting at the end of long deep harbor docks, vegetable gardens brimming with hyper-local fare, rose cutting gardens and tennis courts perched above private beaches.
Surrounding the charming village of Woods Hole (where the Woods Hole Inn is located) with it’s busy shops and wonderful restaurants are estates, docks and yachts that would put the most status-oriented Hamptonite’s teeth on edge.
But Woods Hole wealth is so low key that you probably have never heard of the families that reside near here, captains of industry who choose to remain anonymous, who cherish their private personas and their hidden invitation-only estates. Cape Cod has sections where it’s all about status, where public dinners in expensive and impossible-to-get-into restaurants are de rigueur (ahem, Nantucket) but Woods Hole is decidedly not one of them.
Woods Hole people are more impressed with your latest published book, your hike up Kilimanjaro or your Nobel prize than they are with the length of your driveway or the new varnish on your Woody. (Yes, that is a real Woody waiting to squire this Woods Hole family around Buzzards Bay after dinner.)
One such prominent Woods Hole clan entertains guests on a series of dark blue power yachts for sunset cruises to Vineyard Haven and Edgartown (harbor towns on nearby Martha’s Vineyard), finally acquiring so many different boats that they bought a local marina in order to dock them all nearby. Another local grande dame told me, upon touring her house laden with China Trade era antiques: “We don’t buy furniture, we have it.” The Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey could not have said it better.
But keeping it real is part of the game — I have had cocktails on the verandah of a fabulous Penzance Point house only to see it’s occupants headed out of Job Lot the next morning, arms laden with items priced at $1. Or arrived on the porch of the finest property and shared laughter and deep insights into current events along with stale saltines and watery lemonade.
This must be how the rich get richer, I muse. I just continue to feel lucky to live amongst the beauty and eccentricity that is Woods Hole — the best kept secret on Cape Cod.