Topics: Local History

Popular Lighthouse Tours Resume June 6

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — Thanks to the volunteers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, visitors to Chatham Light this summer will get the chance to learn some history while enjoying the best view in town. The annual public tours of the lighthouse, held most Wednesdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m. during the summer months, start June 6. Special tours will also be held on June 16 and 17 during Chatham’s History Weekend. Admission is free...

ORLEANS — Reuben Hopkins held a full house in thrall last week as he shared his eyewitness account of the July 21, 1918 German U-boat attack off Nauset Beach, the only World War I attack on U.S. soil. The Coast Guardsman's voice was clear, his memory sharp. After he spoke, Hopkins was unable to join a panel of historians to take questions at the initial event of the Orleans 1918 Commemoration Committee. That...

Museums Hold ‘Free Locals Day’ Saturday

By: Alan Pollock

CHATHAM — What do the Atwood House, the Chatham Shark Center and the Marconi Center have in common? On Saturday, you can get in with nothing more than proof that you live on Cape Cod. Already popular with visitors to the Cape, the three museums are collaborating on the first-ever Free Locals Day in a bid to encourage visits from year-rounders. Danielle Jeanloz of the Chatham Historical Society said the...

What if some of our local sea captains were actually running slave ships in the triangle trade? Meadow Dibble Hilley of Brewster has uncovered an intriguing story that she believes points to a Brewster sea captain dealing in slaves. In a May 19 talk in Harwich called “The Diseased Ship, the Sea Serpent and the Destroying Angel: Cape Cod Sea Captains and the Slave Trade” she will explore this tale. A few yea...

Orleans Prepares To Recognize WWI Attack Centennial

By: Cape Cod Chronicle

ORLEANS – On July 21, 1918, the German submarine U-156 surfaced about three miles off Nauset Beach and shelled the tugboat Perth Amboy and the four barges it had in tow. The barges were sunk, the tug was badly damaged, and two people were injured. Several shots fired from the U-boat’s 5.9-inch deck guns hit the Orleans shore, making the town the only place on U.S. soil to receive enemy gunfire during World War ...

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...