Cape Cod’s Hyannis Harbor Lighthouse

Hyannis Harbor Light

By Mary Moran

Hyannis, a village in the town of Barnstable and the highest populated area on Cape Cod, was once a busy and successful port for both fishing and trade in the 1800’s. It is located in what is called the Mid Cape area. With maritime traffic increasing, the need for a navigational aid in the harbor became apparent. The Point Gammon Light, built at the southern approach to the harbor in 1816, guided vessels to the harbor, but another light was needed for the dangerous areas inside the harbor itself. Daniel Snow Hallett, a Barnstable local, did his best to provide his own light for the waters by hanging a lamp in the window of a beach shack that he built at his own expense. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t very effective and in 1848, $2,000 was appropriated by Congress to erect a proper lighthouse in the South Hyannis Harbor area.

In May of the following year, the freshly built Hyannis Harbor Light, a 19-foot conical brick tower, was put into service. The structure consisted of five oil lamps and parabolic reflectors that provided a fixed white light 43 feet above the water level. The lighthouse also produced a red sector to warn passing vessels away from the dangerous Southwest Shoal.The Hyannis Harbor Light property expanded in 1851 when another $800 was given in order to build a house for a lighthouse keeper. The wooden structure was built beside the lighthouse, connected by a convenient covered walkway. The position of keeper was given to John H. Lothrop in 1871 but was soon taken over by his son, Alonzo, in 1878 after Lothrop’s death only eight years into his duty. Alonzo Lothrop remained at his inherited post for a little over 20 years. He resigned from the position in 1899. After his resignation, the keeper position was given to a man named Captain John Peak. Peak had come from a long legacy of lighthouse keepers and was known for letting the local children help with his lighthouse chores and even giving private sailing lessons to the children who were able to swim. Almost fifteen years after Peak’s retirement in 1915, the Hyannis Harbor Light was discontinued and its lantern was removed from the structure. The lighthouse, keeper’s house, and property were sold at auction to A.W. Fuller for $7,007. Fuller then sold the property and throughout the years the old lighthouse was passed through the hands of many owners. Current owners, Janice Hyland and Alan Granby, built their own unique top to the lighthouse tower. Although it is anything but traditional, it is reportedly an excellent spot to catch a glorious Cape Cod sunset. In addition to the original lighthouse, the keeper’s house (1849) and oil house (1902) both remain standing to this day, and although the property is privately owned, one can get a great view of the old tower by taking a stroll east on Keyes Beach in Hyannis.

Hyannis is just twenty miles from the Palmer House Inn. While in Hyannis one can visit the JFK Cape Cod Museum that commemorates the president’s life on the Cape. There are also harbor cruises where visitors view the harbor and the Kennedy compound buildings and grounds.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of sightseeing 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 for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

Cape Cod’s Bass River Light

Bass River Light

By Mary Moran

Bass River light, also known as the West Dennis Light, is located on the eastern side of Bass River in the Cape Cod town of Dennis. Dennis sits next to the waters of Nantucket Sound. Dennis became a prosperous fishing town in the 19th century. At that time there was a salt works right in the center of town and a variety of facilities for the construction of small boats. Before the lighthouse was built, a local man by the name of Warren Crowell created his own “lighthouse” to help captains navigate the area. He did this by placing a lamp in the attic window of his home. Local captains would donate money to Crowell on a monthly basis to help provide funds for the cost of the oil that kept the lamp burning. Eventually, it was decided that the small lamp in Crowell’s attic was no longer sufficient to guide vessels safely, because the  traffic in the local waters had begun to increase significantly. In 1854, the land was purchased for a real lighthouse and on April 30, 1855, the Bass River Light went into service. The Bass River Light’s lantern was placed on top of the newly built, two-story keeper’s house. The structure was 44 feet tall and displayed a continuous white light out of its fifth-order Fresnel lens. The person assigned to the duty of being the first lighthouse keeper was none other than Warren Crowell himself. He remained at his post until 1863, when he went to fight in the Civil War. In combat, he was taken prisoner in Virginia after being injured and finally returned to the lighthouse in the 1870’s. Unfortunately, need for the lighthouse decreased after both the opening of the Cape Cod Canal and the placement of an automatic light on the west side of Bass River. The Bass River light was ultimately deemed unnecessary and was put out on June 15, 1914. After the light was dark at Bass River, the property was sold at auction to a Mr. Harry K. Noyes. Noyes used the keeper’s house as a seasonal home and expanded the property greatly. Then, in 1938, the property was purchased by State Senator Everett Stone and his wife Gladys. The couple decided to turn the home into an Inn where they could entertain friends, family and vacationers alike. Guests could rent a room for a night or two. One night’s stay at the Inn, including all meals, was only $5 dollars! As the years went on, the business continued to grow. To this day the Stone family owns the Bass River Lighthouse and its property. It is now a fully functioning Inn and restaurant. It is open seasonally from spring to fall with a large summer staff of around ninety employees. The Stone family also took the initiative to relight the famous lighthouse in 1989. Each year, from August 7th – National Lighthouse Day, you can still see the flashing white light shining from the 300 mm optic lens in the Bass River tower. It serves as a seasonal aid to navigation. This charming lighthouse and restaurant is about an hour’s drive east of  the Palmer House Inn.

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures 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 for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgeable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

Oysters on Cape Cod, Part 2

Quarterdeck's Oysters

Part II Preparing and Enjoying Oysters.

C Salt's Oysters
Oyster selection at C Salt restaurant in Falmouth.

Opening the oyster shell is called shucking. Some Cape Codders believe that the correct method of shucking is to insert a shucking tool or knife into the side of the shell, however, most of us think that it is easier to go in at the hinge. In the end it is what ever works for you. All of the oyster shuckers that I have seen wear heavy leather gloves. It is easy for the sharp tool to slip.

Some diners enjoy their oysters raw while others like them fried or prepared in recipes. Whether they are consumed raw or cooked the diner will be getting the same nutritional value. That said, the raw preparation, does deliver higher levels of the nutrients. Oysters contain high levels of protein, zinc and selenium. It is a food that is known to strengthen the immune system.

There are several ways to eat raw oysters:

  • Some slowly slurp them directly from the shell while others give them a quick chew.
  • Others flavor them with cocktail sauce and lemon.
  • Still others enjoy them with a shot of vodka or tequila.
  • There are even those who savor them with a wine or champagne chaser.

These methods are all perfectly acceptable and developing your own unique style is half of the fun.

The next part of this article will tell you where to get this wonderful delicacy. The answer is, right here in Falmouth by the Sea. Some of the best restaurants for oyster dining are: La Cucina sul Mare, C Salt, Quarterdeck, TGC Grill and last but by no means least, the appropriately named Shuckers.

Quarterdeck's Oysters
This is the Quarterdeck’s presentation of “Oysters on the Half Shell”. The variety at the top of the photo is from Barnstable: it is sweet with firm meat. The larger one at the right is from Washburn Island: its meat is creamy and has a fresh finish. The oyster at the left is from Dunbury and has very briny plump meat and a sweet buttery finish. Yes, a fine oyster is very much like a fine wine. Enjoy!

When I am enjoying oysters on the half shell at home, I like to make my own sauce.

Pat’s Oyster Sauce

Yield is about 1/3 of a cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of oysters
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 8 teaspoons of soy sauce

Directions:

  • chop oysters
  • in a sauce pan, simmer oysters with their liquid for 20 minutes
  • strain liquid and discard oysters pieces
  • continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced to 5 teaspoons
  • combine the remainder of the ingredients, chill and enjoy with your favorite oysters.

If you enjoy oysters, an oyster lover’s heaven can be found at the “Wellfleet Oysterfest”.  In October of this year it will be on the 19th and 20th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. each day.

For more information go to  www.wellfleetoysterfest.org


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures sampling Cape Cod’s finest seafood, 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 for a relaxing stay before and after your day.