Liam’s at Nauset Beach in 2011.

For 70 years, visitors to Cape Cod’s Nauset Beach could wander up to a seaside clam shack when they got hungry.

When John Ohman bought the business in 1989, he named it Liam’s after his son.

“It was such an iconic place,” he says. “You would walk up to Liam’s in your bathing suit and get great seafood and then go back to the beach.”

But with ongoing erosion made worse by rising seas and increasingly intense storms, the ocean began to threaten the clam shack. Ohman says the beach was shrinking by about three feet a year. Then in 2018, a winter storm hit hard.

“Within 13 hours – two high tide cycles – the beach was entirely gone, and there were 20-foot waves hitting the clam shack,” he says.

After the storm, Ohman says the shack was “hanging over a cliff, essentially, with no sand left in front of it and no sand left underneath it.”

The town of Orleans, Massachusetts, which owned the building, decided it did not make sense to rebuild. The town demolished Liam’s and in its place built a sand dune to protect the shore.

Ohman says Liam’s was one of thousands of Cape Cod properties now at risk from climate change. But to him, it was one of a kind.

“It was a wonderful place to go to work every day,” he says. “It’s a very difficult family loss, a profound family loss.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.