Topics: Local History

ORLEANS — An international assemblage gathered at the French Cable Station Museum Sept. 6 to hail Le Direct, the first direct transatlantic telegraph connection. “It was a vital communication link,” said James Jefferies, president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), before presenting the Milestone Achievement Award. In 1898, the cable was “the best available technology (and used) ...

CHATHAM – The central portion of the iconic house at the corner of Shore Road and Seaview Street will be saved from the wrecking ball. Peter Polhemus of Polhemus Savery DaSilva Builders Architects told the historical commission last week that the firm has been working “quite intensely” with owners Ronald and Ann Cami on a design that will incorporate the original 1927-section of the building at 233 Seaview St....

Something about “then and now” shots of familiar places always captivates us – the older photographs reveal ghosts of what once existed in spots we know so well. So you might want to take a second look at “Double Take: Historical and Current Panoramic Photographs of Chatham,” a show of then-and-now photographs of the town on display at the Atwood House and Museum. If you already saw the show, which opened earl...

It's been decades since the venerable Old Harbor Lifesaving Station held vigil over the outer beach off Chatham, providing a base for surf rescue teams, a lookout post for boats in trouble, and a refuge for shipwrecked sailors since 1897. But by 1977, perched on a rapidly eroding beach, the station itself needed to be rescued. It was lifted with a crane onto a barge and brought to a new home at Race Point, Pro...

CHATHAM – On Tuesday, at ceremonies presided over by Noohkahshun, whose name means “the wind that carries softly,” two areas connecting Chatham to the native story of the Cape were named and given signs detailing their history. An area adjacent to the Muddy Creek and the Muddy Creek Bridge was re-consecrated to its original name, Askaonkton, or “at the Wading Place.” A sign was then placed on land at Old Harbo...

ORLEANS — This time, there were no shells flying over the dunes. A crowd gathered in the parking lot at Nauset Beach July 21 to commemorate the centennial of the only enemy gunfire to strike American soil in World War I. In 1918, a German submarine fired at a passing tug and its barges, with stray shells landing on shore. Selectmen Chairman Alan McClennen set the stage. “You all arrived on Beach Road,” he...

Girl From Quanset' Takes Audiences Back To Camp

By: Olivia Szymanski

ORLEANS – “The Girl from Quanset,” an operetta written for the girls at Camp Quanset in 1908, has returned for another summer vacation at the Orleans Historical Society. This staged reading of the musical features volunteer actors as playful campers, Life Savers from the Orleans Station and mischievous pirates who sing their way through jaunty and cheerful tunes. Costume changes are signaled cheekily by differ...

Remembering The Airfield And Pilots Of East Harwich

By: William F. Galvin

EAST HARWICH — Not many kids become a pilot at 16 years of age, and even fewer of them built an airfield in their backyard. But Charles P.H. “Chief” Bascom attained both those accomplishments. Few people remember the East Harwich Airdrome which operated in a limited fashion for close to 50 years, with planes taking off from the dirt runway over Orleans Road (Route 39) or Church Street, depending upon wind dire...

ORLEANS — As you buzz by on your way to Nauset Beach, you've probably admired the historic homes, churches and cemetery along leafy, winding Main Street from Route 28 to Beach Road. There's another way to experience the stretch: walks with historian Bonnie Snow of the Orleans Historical Society. In addition to leading tours of Orleans Cemetery on July 27, Aug. 31, Sept. 28, and Oct. 26, Snow will take walker...

CHATHAM – Another historic home on Stage Harbor Road may come under the wrecking ball. The historical commission will hold a hearing June 19 on a proposal to fully demolish the George Taylor House at 356 Stage Harbor Rd., a 146-year-old three-quarter Cape located across the street from the Atwood House Museum. The commission will hold a second hearing June 19 on home on the historic street, but the proposal...

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...