According to Newbury Conservation Agent Doug Packer, Plum Island’s beaches haven’t been scraped in many years, other than earlier this month when five other homes nearby got permits to have their beaches scraped.
Originally the Bennetts and their two neighbors were supposed to have their beaches scraped as well, but they weren’t after it was determined that the houses weren’t in immediate jeopardy of falling over the bank.
“I didn’t understand why the permit wasn’t issued for all eight of these homes in the beginning, but we’re grateful that they granted this one now,” said John Bennett, whose family owns the Bennett House. The yellow, Victorian era house sits high atop a sand dune just south of Plum Island beach center.
The arrival of Hurricane Sandy quickly changed the equation, and now Bennett and his neighbors’ homes have the extra fortification as well, but Bennett called the scraping a band-aid and expressed cautious hope that the scraping will be enough to keep the storm from pushing his house over the bank.
Bennett’s family has lived on Plum Island for 100 years, and the Bennett House itself has been a fixture on the beach since 1881. The house offers a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the distance you can see the Isle of Shoals, the edge of Cape Ann and even the fireworks in Boston on the Fourth of July if it’s clear enough out. Bennett said he’d like to pass the house on to his children someday; they would be the fifth generation to own the house.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate that we have it, and we’ve been able to keep it, and I’d hate to have a storm take it away, or the government block us from trying to save it,” Bennett said. “This is the first step of them letting us try to do something, but it hasn’t been easy.”