Cahoon Museum of American Art

Cahoon Museum of American Art

By Pat O’Connell

Photos by Pat O’Connell

fireplace Cahoon Museum of American Art

In the second half of the 18th century, Ebenezer Crocker built seven homesteads in the village of Cotuit. One of those homesteads, located at 4676 Falmouth Road, is now the stately two story colonial that houses the Cape Cod Museum of American Art. This house is a a Palladian or Georgian style and was constructed about 1782. At that time Cape Cod was just beginning to adopt the Georgian style. It has a classic symmetrical design with the placement of it’s windows and doors. Also, the capped pediment doorway  the small-pane flat toped window casings and gabled roof add to the traditional design. Clapboards were chosen to emphasize the horizontal lines of the design. The dark red color was chosen to make it look like the more extravagant brick homes in the cities.

In the interior there is an abundance of wood work. This includes paneling, wainscoting and an occasional entire wall usually one with a fireplace. During the time period that this house was built, mantles were only found in the most elegant homes, however, frequently they were added at a later date.

The kitchen is located, at what originally was the rear of the house. It has one of the paneled wood walls with a walk-in fireplace with a beehive oven at the back. It has a wide hearth so that the user can reach the oven. (As I was admiring the lovely brick work I was reminded of the statistic that I once read about early American life,  it said that the leading cause of death for women at  was, burning. Their long skirts would catch fire while they were cooking.)

In the early nineteenth century, the house was made into a tavern and was a overnight stop of the Hyannis-Sandwich stagecoach line. One

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Sailor’s Valentine


Discovery Bicycle Tours Cape Cod

Bicycle Tour Cape Cod tour guide

Discovery Bicycle Tours Cape Cod, “Your next great adventure starts here.”

The Palmer House Inn has been affiliated with Discovery Bicycle Tours for four years. We always look forward to the arrival of the cyclists, it is our unofficial start to the summer season. This June they will come to stay with us for two nights starting on June 10th and then again June 24th. The complete tour includes two additional nights on Martha’s Vineyard. The total cost of the trip is $2,395.

Bicycle Tour Cape Cod setting out
Setting out.
Shining Sea Bike Path
Shining Sea Bike Path in Fall

During the days spent in Falmouth on Cape Cod, they follow beach roads and “The Shining Sea Bike Path“. These roads and paths weave through salt marshes, cranberry bogs, bird sanctuaries, barrier beaches and tidal flats. The sanctuaries are filled with geese, egrets, red winged black birds, osprey and  many species of ducks. For lunch you will dine at Dana’s kitchen, one of Falmouth’s best known eateries. The evening meals will be at The Quarterdeck Restaurant that is known for its outstanding seafood offerings., however, they have a complete menu of steaks chops and even vegetation dishes. On the second evening you will dine at Osteria la Civeta, a charming northern Italian restaurant located in Falmouth Village and just a seven minute stroll from the Palmer House Inn.

Bicycle Tour Cape Cod planning
The planning meeting, in the Palmer House Inn’s parlor, before setting out for a day of cycling.

You begin your third day with a sumptuous breakfast in the Palmer House dining room. Then you ride to a scenic ferry that takes you to Martha’s Vineyard. While on the Vineyard you will visit the elegant town of Edgartown. It was a colonial seaport with rows of 18th century homes that are a reminder of the great prosperity of the early whaling era. The beautiful bicycle route that Discovery has chosen, takes you past the three-mile barrier beach of Katama and then on to West Tisbury. Then you will take short ferry ride to Chappaquiddick Island. Where you will bike around the island. Next is a visit to the town of Vineyard Haven, where you will ride past historic West Chop Light and bike “up island”to the legendary Aquinnah Cliffs. The next destination is the charming fishing village of Menemsha and lovely Menemsha beach. Menemsha is working village with its own fleet. Its claim to fame is that it is where the 1971’s motion picture “Jaws” was filmed.

You will also visit the town of Oak Bluffs where you will explore the famous labyrinthine streets that are lined with small rainbow colored, Victorian, gingerbread style cottages.  You will also see the nations oldest Flying Horses Carousel.

More information on Martha’s Vineyard

Bicycle Tour Cape Cod tour guide
Toni, the woman in the blue shorts is one of the guides.

In the nineteenth century, Oak Bluffs started as a place where religious revival meetings were held. There was a large tent in the center for the meetings, and smaller tents formed a circle around the large tent. As time passed, the central structure was made of iron and on the wooden tent platforms the little houses were constructed. As one would expect, a town formed around the harbor area close to the camp grounds. The town had hotels and taverns. This was not acceptable to the religious community who frowned upon the use of alcohol. As a result, a fence was built around the their community and the gates were closed and locked each evening.  Remnants of that fence can still be found to this day.

  • The tour information may change. Please see event organizer for details. 

Discovery Bicycle Tours

Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring Cape Cod’s history, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

A Sailor’s Valentine

Sailing Sky High

Sailor’s Valentines on Cape Cod

By Pat O’Connell

Sailing Sky High
“Sailing Sky High” by Martha Cahoon.

Many folks believe that Sailor’s Valentines were created by sailing men aboard ships. It’s thought that the sailors used the projects to wile away the time at sea. However, when one stops to think about a sailor’s life, that thought just doesn’t make sense for a number or reasons.

First, can you imagine doing such intricate work aboard a ship while it is pitching and rolling? Second, there were not many idle moments aboard merchant or whaling ship. The crew was either working, eating or sleeping. And third, space was at a premium aboard those ships. There just wasn’t much room for storing personal items.

This is a Sailor’s Valentine that is on display at the Falmouth Museums on the Green.
This is a Sailor’s Valentine that is on display at the Falmouth Museums on the Green.

A Sailor’s Valentine is Intricate Sea Shell Art

They were created as a sentimental or souvenir gift. They use large numbers of small varied colored seashells that are glued into intricately symmetrical designs. The original Sailor’s Valentines were made between 1830 and 1890. They were created to be taken home as a memento of a sailor’s voyage at sea and given to his loved ones.  Most often, they are octagonal designs and were usually between 8 to 20 inches wide. Seashells are glued into place then mounted in a hinged wooden box. The patterns often featured a centerpiece such as a heart shape or a compass rose. In some instances the shells were used to spell out a sentimental message or a motto.

Sailor's Valentine in the Palmer House's James Fenimore Cooper room
Sailor’s Valentine in the Palmer House’s James Fenimore Cooper room.
Sailor's Valentine
Palmer House lnn’s Sailor’s Valentine.

Many of the Sailor’s Valentines were produced in the island of Barbados. This island was an important seaport during the age of sail. It’s believed that women on Barbados made the valentines using local seashells. It’s also  believed that some of the shells were imported from Indonesia. The finished product was then sold to sailors as souvenirs.

John Fondas, author of “Sailors Valentines” states that the most common source for Sailor’s Valentines was the “New Curiosity Shop”  that was located on MacGregor Street in Brighton, Barbados.  It was a popular shop where sailors liked to purchase souvenirs. It was owned by B.H. and George Belgrave who were brothers. John Fondas tells about a Sailors Valentine that was being repaired. During the job a Barbados newspaper was found inside the backing material.

Today the original Sailor’s Valentines are collectible and are valued for their color, beauty and unique qualities. Collectors have sparked interest in this unique art form. Sailor’s Valentine kits can now be purchased in craft shops and online.

The Nantucket Whaling Museum has an extensive collection of the antique Sailor’s Valentines, in addition, our own Falmouth Museums on the Green also has two excellent examples of antique sailors valentines in the Doctor Francis Wick’s House. The valentines were brought to Falmouth by some of Falmouth’s sailors many years ago.

If you are interested in creating a Sailor’s Valentine of your own. Susan Black, a native of Nantucket, has kits that can be purchased online. Each kit includes an octagonal wooden box with a hinged glass front and a collection of seashells from around the world. website

We hope you have a romantic Valentine’s Day.

Carved mahogany four poster bed in the Roosevelt Room.
Carved mahogany four poster bed in the Roosevelt Room.
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Emily Dickinson Room

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of artistic adventures on Cape Cod’s, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.