A new pair of skates recently arrived at the Hyannis home of Kate and Paul Wylie, 1992 Olympic silver medalist for men’s skating, yet they’re a tad too small for him. Sent by Dick Button, two-time Olympic gold medalist, the clip-on skates welcomed the couple’s first child, Hannah, who is now 3 months old.
Still in their box in Hannah’s colorful nursery overlooking Nantucket Sound, the skates no doubt will be used next winter.
“When I was a year-and-a-half old, my parents put me on skates like these,” says Kate, former goal-tender for Brown University’s Division 1 ice hockey team, who graduated in 1994. “It’s a nice way to be together as a family.”
Family is the predominant theme in the Wylie’s home. Paul purchased the 1922 Cape-style home in 1996 as a place for his family to gather, as they were scattered about the country; at the time, he was living in Cambridge. Originally from Texas and Colorado, he had come to Boston in 1985 to train with renowned coaches Evy and Mary Scotvold.
Shortly after settling into the Hyannis house, he met his wife. She was visiting his home for a Bible study group he hosted for their church. A Hyannis native, Kate stepped onto the private beach behind his house and found herself staring at the place where she swam and sailed as a young girl.
“I was staring at my childhood,” recalls Kate, whose parents still live one mile away.
“She was staring at her future, too,” adds Paul, kissing his wife. They have been married four years.
The two-story, gray-shingled house on a cul-de-sac with no lawn, only sand, sits on the water’s edge. Expanded by former owners, it has six bedrooms, a bright atrium office, a sunroom, and spacious dining and living rooms, all with water views. It has a homey atmosphere, having been decorated with comfortable couches, distressed wooden tables and bookcases, and contemporary versions of the original Arts and Crafts-style Stickley furniture – a buffet, console, and end tables.
Images of the Cape are everywhere – from pillows with lighthouses to sailboats adorning furniture and paintings. A small, refinished antique armoire in a lower bedroom looking out at the Sound is hand-painted with an image of The American Eagle, winner of The America’s Cup. Paul discovered it on Newbury Street several years ago.
During the same period, he purchased an oil painting in Nantucket that captured a quaint, square house that symbolized, to him, a “family gathering place, a place of peace,” he says. It hangs prominently above the fireplace in the sunroom.
Paul proposed to Kate in 1998, when he was working toward an MBA from Harvard Business School (which he completed in 2000; he also has a 1991 undergraduate degree in government from Harvard University). He announced his retirement from skating with a “Skates Up the Flagpole” party, and friends and relatives watched him hoist his skates up the pole he built steps from the beach.
Paul recently came out of skating retirement, however, after two years in marketing with the Walt Disney Company. During that time, they lived in Los Angeles, missed Hyannis, and visited often. He is now completing a 22-city performance with Smucker’s Stars on Ice.
When not skating, Wylie, 39, enjoys other hobbies – cycling, skiing, and watching movies with Kate, 31, at home. He is also busy with his newest venture, High Gear Travel, a touring company offering a biking trip to the Tour de France. He stays connected to friends from the Olympics by co-chairing the Summit 2006 program, which unites top competitors before the event.
Wylie’s many skating trophies – and the Olympic medal – are not displayed in his home. “I wasn’t into the whole shrine thing,” he says. The Olympic silver medal and many trophies are tucked away. He displays two trophies in the living room, because they are pieces of art: the crystal 1988 Trophee Lalique, and a bronzed figure of a skater from the Masters Miko Figure Skating Championship, which he won four times.
Adjacent to the living room is a den that Paul’s parents use when they live there each summer. When the couple’s siblings, nieces, and nephews visit, they stay upstairs where Kate has created a playroom for children. The Wylies relocate the large dining room table – made from an old staircase in a Vermont home – into the sunroom for big family dinners.
“This house is all about family for us,” says Kate.