470 Commercial Street

Check out this sweet little house, on a generous front yard, from the east side of the lot — about the vantage of the photo. Chances are, you’ll be struck by just how claustrophobic 468 Commercial Street renders this otherwise picturesque scene, and how completely it blocks any western prospects from the house. Funny you should sense that. Capt. Alfred Cook felt the same way. And he had to live here as his relative, Capt. Daniel Cook — urged on by his wife — walled off his precious panorama with the sheer bulkiness of his pretentious new home. Capt. Alfred was not about to let Capt. Daniel get away with it, as Mary Heaton Vorse recounted in Time and the Town:

He built an enormous arbor. It towered up above the first story and topped the second story. When it had blocked the view to the eastward as effectively as the big house blocked his view to the westward, he was seen painting it.

‘What you doin?’ asked a neighbor.

‘Painting this arbor black as hell, and blacker!’

Upon his own side of the ‘arbor’ he planted flowering vines. So Mrs. Daniel Cross Cook looked out, instead of at the sunrise over the water, at a pitch-black wall. For years the arbor stood there. Only as he lay dying was the Captain persuaded to relinquish his spite.

‘I’ll take it down anyway after you’re gone, Alfred, so you may as well take it down yourself before you go,’ his wife urged, hating to see him go with animosity still in his heart.


 

 


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