Topics: Local History

HARWICH — With old-timers getting older, and with the town’s demographics changing, there’s a real danger that parts of Harwich’s history could fade from memory. The new Cape Verdean Heritage Oral History Project, a video documentary series produced by Angelina Raneo Chilaka, aims to keep that from happening. “I’ve got a list of people we want to interview,” Chilaka said. Their stories will help form a perma...

Remembering The Icy Regattas Of The Past

By: Debra Lawless

They were mad for it. One commentator called it “ice boat fever.” In the late 19 th century, when temperatures dropped below freezing in December, residents had reason to rejoice: Harwich’s Long Pond and Chatham’s Oyster Pond froze solid with a foot of ice that could linger through March. During the 1870s, ’80s and ’90s, frozen ponds lured residents onto the ice in droves in both daylight and moonlight wit...

HARWICH — A careful study of Island Pond Cemetery will show more than just rows of headstones. There is history, art, science, and a rich variety of trees. When Robbin Kelley looks out across the cemetery, she sees potential. The town’s cemetery administrator is leading an effort to create an arboretum that includes Island Pond Cemetery and an adjacent tract of conservation land. Arguably one of the town’s m...

When the weather cleared on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1978, local residents emerged from their homes to find that the area's shoreline had been significantly rearranged – in some cases more or less permanently. While the Blizzard of '78 paralyzed many areas of Southern New England with several feet of snow, trapping people in vehicles and ultimately accounting for 54 deaths in Massachusetts alone, the snow wasn't the n...

HARWICH ─ A unique art and history class collaboration allowed students at Monomoy Regional High School to travel back in time while remembering one of the country's, and Cape Cod's, beloved political figures: John F. Kennedy. Working with the JFK Museum in Hyannis, students in David Alexander's Kennedy Years history class and Deb Donovan's Portfolio I art class learned about the influential 35 th president...

HARWICH — For the last decade, visitors to the Harwich Historical Society’s Brooks Academy Museum could climb the stairs and explore a model railroad display depicting Harwich in the first half of the 20th century. But in a couple of weeks, the display will be dismantled to make way for new exhibits. The circular layout depicts scenes from Harwich...

ORLEANS — A piece of the town's history – albeit one that was born next door in Eastham – goes on the auction block next week. The former Academy Ocean Grille at 2 Academy Place will be auctioned by the Daniel P. McLaughlin Co. of Boston Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. in Orleans. A $25,000 deposit is required at the sale for the 4,000-square-foot building on a 37,026-square-foot parcel. The Academy Ocean Grille's closu...

How A WWI Blimp Pump Made My Day

By: Dan Broderick

It's really interesting, even intriguing, how things (they are called gifts if we want them, or other unusual words, if we don't) end up in a museum. Viewing these potential donations is usually pre-arranged by a phone call. The caller indicates they have a number of things that might be of historical interest. To the potential donor, everything has sentimental value. "We are moving and want to donate our item...

For many people, the tale of the Pendleton rescue is the stuff of big-budget feature films; for others, it's the story of the greatest small-boat rescue in the history of the Coast Guard. But for Renee Pellegrino of Maryville, Ill., it's part of family lore. Pellegrino recently made a 1,000-mile pilgrimage to the Cape to honor her father, the late Raymond Steele, who was one of the 32 men rescued from the ster...

CHATHAM ─ Wood shavings litter the floor at First Light Boatworks. The air inside one of the building's massive bays is pungent with the scent of cedar. There is something else, as well: a sense of excitement since progress has clearly been made in the build of a double-ended ketch, which is beginning to resemble the beauty she'll be upon completion next June. This is the part of boat building that First Lig...

Town Will No Longer Maintain Harwich Center Cemetery

By: William F. Galvin

HARWICH — The town has put First Congregational Church of Harwich on notice that it will cease maintaining the Harwich Center Cemetery as of the end of this month. The town had been taking care of the cemetery for many years under the assumption the it was municipally owned. But a recent Land Court decision concluded the historic cemetery, adjacent to the church, belongs to the First Congregational Church dati...

HARWICH – “It is a very big deal for the museum!” Thus did Janet Cassidy, executive director of the Harwich Historical Society, describe the event held last Friday afternoon in the Brooks Academy Museum in Harwich Center. With some 25 Society members present, Chad Tragakis, president of the Potomac Decoy Collectors Association, presented the organization with an original and pristine A. Elmer Crowell duck deco...

HARWICH — Grey skies and a few rain drops may have held down the crowd, but it could not contain the excitement generated by those who attended the inaugural Harwich Cape Verdean Festival held in Brooks Park on Saturday. The voice of Cape Verdean International singer Candida Rose and the heart healthy beat of Cape Cod African Dance and Drum brought warmth and eventual sunshine to the festival. The event was an...

CHATHAM – Stage Harbor Road appears to meet the criteria as a National Historic Register District, but a determination on South Chatham's eligibility will have to await a site visit by a Massachusetts Historical Commission official. Betsy Friedberg, National Register Director for the commission, will be in town July 19 to tour both areas. In April the town's historical commission requested an opinion of the...

PLEASANT LAKE — Sixty-three years ago, regional and national newspaper reporters descended on sleepy Harwich for a big news story. A 16-year-old girl from Quincy, Mass., saved her family from being asphyxiated when their summer camp on Seymour Pond became filled with gas from a malfunctioning refrigerator. Sixty-three years later, the memories of that day are as fresh as ever for Patricia Evans, the heroine of...

Janet M. Daly has just released her second book telling the story of Chatham’s fascinating history through photographs and captions. “Chatham Through Time” (Fonthill Media, 2017) is a companion to Daly’s 2002 book “Chatham,” published as a part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America Series. While her first book is a collection of historic photographs, sketches and cartoons ranging from the 1860s to 1962, th...