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On the Border

A waterfront home with a history that spans generations.

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It’s not all that uncommon for a home to be in a family for more than one generation. After all, here in New England, century-old homes are commonplace while waterfront properties grows scarcer. Nancy Tache, however, can boast a rare and treasured five generations continually living in her Touisset home. It was her family, in fact, that helped solidify the modern history of the coastal community on a small peninsula straddling the Warren and Swansea state line.

“In the early 1900s, my grandmother’s father, Adelbert Goff, and one other developer established Touisset in Swansea and in Rhode Island,” declares Nancy. “In 1910, John and Jesse Stewart Borden purchased the lot where the house is now on Seaview Avenue. In 1911, the house was completed. Now, my grandfather and John and Jesse lived in Fall River; this was their summerhouse. My grandmother’s family, the Goffs, came from East Providence and summered in the Rhode Island Touisset. They met, my grandfather, John Borden Jr., and my grandmother, Marion Goff, fell in love and got married.” Later, the Goffs and Bordens reportedly became two of the founding families of the Coles River Club, a neighborhood association with the perks of a community social club with events and get-togethers.

At the time, Nancy explains, the house was exclusively a summer property, but the couple decided to winterize it and raise their three children, including Nancy’s mother, in the cozy but cheerful waterfront cottage. It was the mid-1920s and the home became one of the very first to start the trend of summer homes transforming into year-round residences in the close-knit neighborhood.

Making the most of its idyllic access to land and sea, Touisset offers ample farmlands all while being bordered by Mount Hope Bay and the Kickemuit and Cole Rivers. Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge, owned by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, comprises 66 unspoiled acres of salt marsh, meadows covered with wild flowers, upland field and wooded habitat.

Though Nancy’s home enjoys panoramic views of the Bay, it’s one of few on the waterfront that remain on its original footprint. “Most of the houses here have either been moved across the street or just moved,” says Nancy. Some Touisset houses – on both the Rhode Island and Massachusetts side – have been moved by Mother Nature. “This house has survived every hurricane – the Hurricane of ‘38, ‘54, Gloria, Bob and Superstorm Sandy... water did come through the fireplace in the ‘38 hurricane. You can still see where the stairs don’t meet the entrance exactly,” she says with a laugh. Though Rhode Island’s most legendary storm did in fact move the home off the foundation about six inches, it came off virtually unscathed.

Through the years, Nancy says that nearly every one of her cousins has lived at the house. Many neighbors spent time there too, as Nancy’s grandmother operated a day care for years at the house.

For Nancy, however, the bond she shared with her grandmother and the time they spent together at the home were particularly meaningful. “I moved in here with my grandmother, along with my son, in 2000... I planted a garden for her and she loved the flowers, so it escalated into a hobby of mine.” Her hobby grew into a passion and Nancy’s landscape overflowed with perennials, stonewalls and more. “She loved flowers,” Nancy says of her grandmother. “She used to sit and just enjoy them.” Daylilies, Black-Eyed Susans, daisies, purple coneflowers and more colorful variations pepper the expansive yard as birds soar above and subtle statuary sit tucked within the lush landscape.

After her grandmother passed, Nancy continued her passion for planting. “It’s a just tribute to her... there are places on the porch I can still feel her presence.”

The planting isn’t the only tribute. Nancy, her husband Pete and son Max have kept the home in tact, with all the original detailing while some other homes in the area have traded age old charm for modern, micro-mansion monstrosities. Nancy says she promised her grandmother she wouldn’t change the house. “My word was that I wouldn’t change the integrity of the house except for some of the appliances – my husband is a big cook!”

Even if she had the green light to do so, Nancy likely wouldn’t change a thing.

“It’s not meant to be a ‘big beautiful house,” declares Nancy. “It’s just a bungalow.”

But it’s so much more than that. “It’s just full of history and love.”