What they found in Gloucester, a historic town on Cape Ann, the rocky mass of land at the northern edge of Massachusetts Bay, quickly cured their waterfront obsession. In fact, it convinced them that life could be good—maybe even better—away from the water's edge.
"I loved the house right away," says the wife, about this early-1900s gray-shingled home in Annisquam, a neighborhood of late-19th- and early-20th-century structures. The three-story house, which they bought from a family who'd lived in it for 50 years, had its original Dutch door, complete with skeleton key. Behind it lay five bedrooms, acres of beadboard, exposed beams, and a rambling attic just waiting to be transformed into a hangout for the couple's two sons, ages 14 and 16.
Shown: The front entry's Dutch door is original, as is the built-in window seat nearby.