HARWICH – The doors to the Cape Cod Tileworks shop are closed, but the tile and design work the company has performed from Main Street in Harwich Center for the past 27 years will continue.
“We bought this place with a handshake from Don Bates,” Lane Meehan said of the 1994 purchase of one of the Three Sisters historic Greek Revival structures in the village.
Lane and Tom Meehan also purchased a house and barn on Parallel Street to the rear of the Greek Revival from which they will continue to run the tileworks business. The 705 Main St. property was sold on Friday to Darrin Tangeman, town manager in Truro. The planning board approved a mixed use special permit to operate a business on the first floor and add a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor.
In 1994, the Meehans were living in Connecticut. After they purchased the Main Streeet building, they covered the windows with paper upon which they announced the coming of a tile shop, said Tom.
The Meehans were standing on the sidewalk out front watching a parade proceed along Main Street and the person standing next to them said, “Who would put a tile shop in this town?”
“The store has done well. It’s provided a college education for our five kids,” Meehan said. “It also allowed us to buy a house in Maine.”
Lane Meehan remembers making the transition from Connecticut to Harwich with her four-year-old son Connor and two-week-old son Ryan. She opened the store on April Fool's Day and the first business transaction was for a floor at Ocean Edge in Brewster.
“We’re changing our direction a little bit,” Lane said. “Tom will continue to do installations and I’ll work with customers by appointment, going to the customer’s house. There will be no open studio. It will be more beneficial for me to go to a customer’s home and look at the light and space.
“It will be the same good service, or better, because we won’t be tied down to brick and mortar,”she said.
The business has been tied to the Parallel Street property where Tom has worked from the barn and his wife has had a shed in which she does her kiln work. People can continue to reach them through the Cape Cod Tileworks phone number, and the email will be the same.
Working with tile has been a long tradition in the Meehan family. Tom said he was born into the tile business and grew up carrying buckets of cement and grout, working alongside his brothers.
“I learned from a master, my father,” Meehan said.
Lane went to the Rhode Island School of Design and after graduation worked for a decade as a fashion designer. She made the transition to tile because she wanted to be home with her kids. She said she learned the tile business from her father-in-law and Tom’s brothers. The transition from fashion to tile was easy, she said, because there were similarities in context, color and texture.
Her art background is evident in the work Cape Cod Tileworks does. Lane said when the business started out, they had a woman who crafted crab and turtle designs on tile. When that woman moved on, Meehan’s five-year-old son, Connor, convinced his mother she could make specialty tiles. They started C-Shore, a creative tile design business; the C- in C-Shore stands for Connor. She had the five-year-old put a business plan together and fired up the new operation, placing a kiln in a shed next to the house.
The kiln and Lane’s artistic talents, the tile design side of the business took off. Tiled walls have became artistic creations. The walls inside the Main Street store bear fish, scallops, oysters, crabs, turtles, birds, and reeds, to name a few creations. Lane said she will create whatever people want. She related the story of working with a woman in Chatham who provided housing for Chatham A’s baseball players in the summer. To make them feel at home, protruding tile baseballs were placed on the walls in the shower.
“If somebody has a concept for a tile, I will do it in colors to go with a color scheme,” she said. “Tom does so much art work. He made a tub to look like a dory and it had waves going up over the bow. We’ll take on any challenge that comes to us. We’re still available to do it. I love what I do.”