Cape Cod Museum Trail – Highfield Hall and Gardens

Holidays at Highfield

By Chelsea Colson | Photos by Pat O’Connell

Holidays at Highfield a Cape Cod museum
Holidays at Highfield

One of Falmouth’s most treasured historical sites, Highfield Hall and Gardens is  one of Cape Cod’s most visited sites. The Hall and Gardens is a center of cultural and community life in Falmouth. Highfield has welcomed over 125,000 visitors since opening in 2006 after 5 years of renovation. One of the most interesting features of Highfield is it’s extravagant history.

Fairy Houses on a Rock Wall
Fairy Houses on a rock wall.

Highfield Hall and Gardens’ rich history begins with its construction. It was one of the earliest summer mansions on Cape Cod and was built by the Beebe family of Boston in 1878. It is one of the few remaining examples of Stick-style Queen Anne architecture in the Northeast. At the time of its construction, the mansion was one of the first expansive summer retreats on the Cape and was surrounded by park-like gardens, a stable, carriage trails, a caretakers cottage and almost 700 acres of woodlands.

James Beebes, one of Boston’s merchant princes, gifted the funds for his children to create and live in the home. While residing in Falmouth, Pierson, Franklin, and Emily Beebe lived lavishly. Servants quarters were located on the upper floor.  The servants assisted the siblings when they threw many extravagant parties on the property. In 1932, Franklin Beebe James’ only surviving child, passed away, leaving no heirs to the Beebe fortune and estate.

Beebe Woods Conservancy nature trails.
Beebe Woods Conservancy nature trails.

After being bought and sold several times, the estate had been transformed and re-purposed from a private home into a hotel. In 1972 Josephine and Josiah Lilly purchased the entire estate and generously donated the nearly 400 acres of Beebe Woods to the town for permanent conservation as green space. The local arts organization received the buildings and acreage around the mansion. Unfortunately for two decades, the property was vandalized and neglected until 1994. At that time, Highfield Hall Inc. saved the property from demolition. After several years of wrangling to keep the building standing, Town Meeting Members authorized Falmouth Selectmen to lease the property to Historic Highfield. In 2001, $8.5 million was raised through donations to renovate the hall and the 6 surrounding acres. Private individuals made a majority of the donations. The funds went towards replacing the roof, repairing the foundation, repairing, flooring, windows and doors. In September 2006, Highfield Hall had its grand reopening when the 1st floor was completed. By April 2007, the Hall’s 2nd and 3rd floors were completed and the building finally was fully renovated. The landscape restoration came after, lasting from 2010 – 2012.

Now that you’ve learned the summary of Highfield Hall & Gardens’ intricate history, it’s time to come back to the present. “Arts on the Hill”, a collective of non-profits that operate the estate, hosts a variety of classes, lectures, theatre presentations, concerts and gallery shows.  They also offer estate tours. Visitors can stop by to browse the current art shows or visit when there is a theatre show scheduled. When the weather is permitting one can take advantage of Beebe Woods and enjoy a calming nature walk. Two of the most recent additions are the restored “Sunken Garden”, a cutting garden and a labyrinth.

On your next visit to the Palmer House Inn, make sure you don’t miss this Falmouth treasure. It is a short 3 minute drive up the hill, or a 13 minute walk from the Inn.

www.highfieldhallandgardens.org


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 guest rooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring gardens and Cape Cod museums, 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.

Cotuit Center for the Arts

Cape Cod Museum Trail: Cotuit Center for the Arts

By Chelsea Colson | Photos by Pat O’Connell

The Cotuit Center for the Arts, part of the Cape Cod Museum Trail.
The Cotuit Center for the Arts, part of the Cape Cod Museum Trail.

An often overlooked Cotuit gem on the Cape Cod Museum Trail is the Cotuit Center for the Arts (CCA), provides a variety of entertainment spanning from an art gallery, theatre, music performances, and a variety of events. The center also offers year round classes and workshops in the visual and performing arts. The classes range from life drawing, tap dancing, stage performance and much more.

Cotuit Center art gallery on the Cape Cod Museum Trail
The art gallery has two levels and displays both two and three-dimensional works by local and international artists.

Two years after being founded in 1993, the CCA was incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization. Since then the center has presented or produced over 50 art exhibitions featuring over 500 visual artists exhibits, more than 40 concerts, and 20 full length theatrical productions. The CCA’s mission is to increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the creative process by facilitating communication among artists and the public. Several community organizations have used the facilities, such as the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, the Cape Cod Foundation, and the MSPCA.

There are many reasons to visit the CCA. You might  want to browse the gallery that featuring works by local, regional, and international artists. Usually there are 3 separate shows sharing the gallery in the 2-level space. The shows include both 2 & 3-dimensional work such as pottery and sculpture. On the 2nd level there is a cozy theatre, which hosts performances of plays year round for example, the” Ideal Husband”, “Enchanted April”, and the award-winning “Underneath the Lintel”. Many reviewers on TripAdvisor boast about the performances at the CCA. A majority of the reviewers giving a 5-star rating based on the acting skills and quality of the performers. No wonder TripAdvisor has rated the center as #1 for things to do in Cotuit! There are many events hosted at their facilities throughout the year, the highlights being the Cape Cod Music Festival & Cape Cod Opera House performances, the Waterflow & Outsider Art Exhibitions, the annual Chili & Poetry Festival, and the Arts & Souls haunted Halloween Masquerade Ball.

For those looking to kindle or improve their artistic skill-set, there is a class for everyone! There is little commitment required, since all classes provide single or multiple class options. A handful of the classes are also free, with a suggested donation of $5, One class that I find intriguing is a soothing Drum Circle class where the drums are provided. The art classes available range from traditional painting classes to a metal clay studio course. One could even learn how to play the Ukulele! There are also Yoga classes at the studio.

This wonderful museum on the Cape Cod Museum Trail is an easy 25 min. drive from our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast Palmer House Inn. On the way you will drive through quaint Cape Cod villages. Cotuit is a village in the town of Barnstable and is located halfway between Falmouth and Hyannis. There are also several beaches close by such as Riley’s Beach, Ropes Beach, The Loop Beach, and Oregon Beach. If you plan on catching one of the theatre shows and are looking to get a bite to eat before or after the performance, there is an outstanding Italian restaurant close by, “Villaggio Ristorante”. The location is perfect for dinner and a show date for any special occasion, even if that occasion happens to be just another Saturday night on Cape Cod.

Other Stops on the Cape Cod Museum Trail include:


Chelsea is a Falmouth local, born and raised. She loves telling people all the great things to do and places to see in her hometown. She is also a professional artist who loves to travel. This past year she spent traveling and working along the east coast of Australia and visited New Zealand for a few weeks. “I have to say, there’s no other place in the world quite like Cape Cod.”


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 guest rooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring gardens on Cape Cod, 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.

Cape Cod Craftsmen Saltwater Woodworks

Cape Cod craftsmen Saltwater Woodworks.
Cape Cod craftsmen kitchen island
Kitchen island.

 Cape Cod Craftsmen: Saltwater Woodworks

By Chelsea Corson | Photos by Pat O’Connell

Saltwater Woodworks tabletop
One of the tables at Bear in Boots that was fashioned by Saltwater Woodworks.

Saltwater Woodworks’ mission statement is: “To provide the highest quality handcrafted products that will exceed your expectations.” Their field of expertise includes fine cabinetry, window framing, flooring, furniture and artwork inspired by reclaimed wood. They also do built-ins and heirloom repairs. The craftsmanship of their products shows creativity and attentiveness to detail. Matt Sullivan created Saltwater Woodworks in 2001 as a one-man-crew in Dennis, MA. In 2012, he was able to expand his operations by merging with C & J Hunt Construction Services so they could offer commercial services as well. The Saltwater Woodworks retail store at 360 Main Street in Falmouth has been open for about 1½ years. Roughly 80% of their sales are from their custom kitchen cabinetry selection. Diners can also see some of their wood and furniture craftsmanship at the popular restaurant Bear in Boots Gastropub that is also on Main Street. The pub’s interior was featured in Boston Globe 2015.

Cape Cod craftsmen wooden bowl
Bowl.

This is the perfect place to visit for new homeowners or for those looking to give their kitchen or other living spaces a fresh, uniquely custom look. It is also a one-stop shop, where customers can purchase custom window frames, doors, or even flooring. Everywhere one looks is another way to customize the home or place of business, with a modern rustic, coastal look. You’ll see that the wood floors are made in a variety of wood species. One can also observe a variety of wood finishes. Every window in the store is uniquely framed which gives one design options to use for a home or business. How convenient!

Choosing Saltwater Woodworks is a sustainable and green choice. Everything in their store has been re-purposed in one way or another. Re-purposed materials inspire even their art pieces, which have been created by local New England artists.

Cape Cod craftsmen wall sconce
Wall sconce.

When one walks into Saltwater Woodworks, he/she is immediately welcomed with beautiful, wooden furniture and decorative pieces. The tables, chairs, wall-hangings, cabinets and decorative pieces are staged tastefully, in the store, which makes it that much easier to visualize how to utilize the pieces in your own home. For example, they have dining tables set with candles in beautiful wooden candle holders displayed on top. One can image having an intimate, candle-lit dinner party with close friends and family, enjoying the evening with a glass of wine in hand. How can you beat that?

No matter where you look, all of Ed’s one-of-a-kind furniture has an interesting back story. He can tell the purchaser where the materials came from and how they were used in years gone by. Whether it’s reclaimed wood from an old factory out in western Massachusetts or a re-purposed vintage sewing table, all of his materials have been recycled into beautiful furniture and art work. Every piece is a conversation piece!

Cape Cod craftsmen Saltwater Woodworks storefront
Storefront of Saltwater Woodworks.

While you are in the area, make sure to stop by this charming store, it is just past the Library and is only about a ten minute walk from the Palmer House Inn. The salespeople are friendly, helpful and have a passion for what they do. Make sure to ask about the pieces you find most interesting. For more information: www.saltwaterwoodworks.net


Chelsea is a Falmouth local, born and raised. She loves telling people all the great things to do and places to see in her hometown. She is also a professional artist who loves to travel. This past year she spent traveling and working along the east coast of Australia and visited New Zealand for a few weeks. “I have to say, there’s no other place in the world quite like Cape Cod.”


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 guest rooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring the workshops of our Cape Cod craftsmen, 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.