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Every year since 2001, home builder Cape Associates of North Eastham, Mass., has built a playhouse replica of a local historic building. Past models have included the town library, the Coast Guard station, and the famous Outermost House, which was swept off the beach during a winter storm in 1978. This year’s model honors the Penniman House, a French Second Empire design built in 1868 for a prosperous whaling captain and now owned by the Cape Cod National Seashore Park.

The playhouse is raffled off during the post-Labor Day festivities at Eastham’s Windmill Weekend. The proceeds — which usually amount to “a few thousand dollars,” according to company spokesperson Lindsay Richards — are donated to local charities. Although the cost of building the playhouse usually exceeds the earnings, the project is good for the charities and great PR for the company.


In designing this playhouse replica of the 140-year-old Penniman House (top), Mark Kinnane of Cape Associates balanced historical accuracy with user-friendly touches like window heights that allow children to look out from inside. To see other playhouses produced by the company, go to


The plans are developed by company vice president Mark Kinnane from photographs and built to no particular scale. Construction takes three to four weeks and is done as infill work by Cape Associates’ carpentry and painting crews.