PLUM ISLAND — Sharon Bresnahan stood on her neighbor’s deck, struggling to come to grips with the sight of her family’s house lying in ruins on the beach.
“It’s very upsetting,” Bresnahan said. “It’s a family home that we’ve had for 44 years, and never in my wildest thoughts did I think it would be tipped over into the sea.”
The Bresnahan house at 31 Annapolis Way, where Sharon and her husband Steve lived, tumbled over the edge of the dune early Saturday morning after rolling waves and debris from other houses washed away the sand from underneath it and compromised its foundation.
Crews using heavy cranes and excavators demolished what remained shortly after the Saturday morning high tide receded, leaving behind only the memories of childhood summers spent at the family home.
Sharon’s mother Cecilia Azzarito bought the house in 1968, back when it was little more than a summer cottage. The family extensively renovated it over time, and it had an assessed value of $692,300 before it was demolished, according to Newbury tax records.
“We put a lot of money into it, and it’s more sentimental,” Bresnahan said. “It’s where my roots are.”
The fate of the Bresnahan house, along with several others farther down the beach, would have been hard to predict a couple of years ago, when the homes were all protected by a dune tall enough that it obscured the view of the ocean for some residents. Over time, however, the erosion problem on Plum Island migrated southward, and the dune was steadily chewed back.
“It’s not a complete shock. For several years we’ve had this problem, but you still don’t expect it to happen,” Bresnahan said. “You expect, ‘OK, we got a blow but we’ll rebuild, we’ll fix it, we’ll make that foundation stronger,’ but now it’s going to be demolished.”