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.

Whydah Pirate Museum

Anchor.

Whydah Pirate Museum

By Patricia L. O’Connell

Whydah Pirate Museum Cape Cod
Ship model at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, USA.

The Whydah Pirate Museum is located in West Yarmouth, on Cape Cod. The museum is about an hour’s drive from the Palmer House Inn and is a new, fully interactive Pirate Museum filled with real pirate artifacts and treasure from the pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy’s flagship the Whydah.

Originally constructed as a fully rigged galley passenger, cargo and slave ship, this three-masted 110 foot long ship, embarked on her maiden voyage out of the port of London, England in 1716. She sailed what was called the triangle trade route. When she left London on the first leg of the triangle, she was carrying a variety of goods from different business to exchange for delivery of trade and slaves in Western Africa, in what is known today as Senegal, Nigeria and Benin. She left west Africa on the second leg of her voyage with about 500 captives, gold, including jewelry and ivory. She traveled to the Caribbean where the captives were sold or traded for precious metals, sugar, indigo, rum, logwood, pimento, ginger and medical ingredients. The third leg of the voyage was to deliver the goods to London. The Whydah, however, would never return to England for a second voyage.

The ship was captured by pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy of the pirate ship Sultana in February of 1717. After taking over the ship, Bellamy and his crew ripped through the Caribbean, pirating over 50 ships and loading the Whydah with stolen treasures. Bellamy and the Whydah then set sail for New England with other ships that he had captured.

Whydah Pirate Museum exhibit
Pirate exhibit.

Samuel Bellamy was known as “Black Sam” because of his black hair. He was born in England but moved to New England where he met and fell in love with Maria Hallett of Eastham, MA on Cape Cod. Her father refused her hand in marriage because Bellamy was poor. He decided to turn to piracy to remedy that situation.

During the voyage north the Whydah was heavily damaged in a storm. The damage included a broken mast. The crew was able to do makeshift repairs that enabled them to each Nantucket Sound. It is believed that the repairs were completed in either Block Island or Rhode Island. Two months later Bellamy and his fleet headed north toward the elbow of Cape Cod. On April 25, 1717 they captured the ship “Mary Anne”. She was carrying a cargo of Madeira wine.

Just after midnight on April 26, 1717 the two ships were struck by hurricane force winds and 30 to 40 foot waves. She ran bow first into a sandbar 500 feet from what is now known as Marconi Beach in the town of Wellfleet. She then capsized sending 4.5 short tons of gold and silver, 60 cannons and 144 people to the ocean’s floor. The Whydah’s contents was spread over  a 4 square mile area. All but 2 sailors were killed. The Mary Anne also sank in that storm.

After the wreck was reported to the governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Shute, he sent Captain Cypian Southack, a local salvager and cartographer, to recover the bullion. However, when Southack arrived on the scene in May, all that he found was that some of the ship was still visible below the water’s surface. At that time Southack created a map of the site.

The wreckage and treasure would remain buried for close to 300 years. Fascinated by the stories of the Whydah since childhood, Provincetown native Barry Clifford decided to look for the ship’s wreckage. He began his search in 1983. In 1984, Clifford, with the help of Southack’s map, began to find the first artifacts from the Whydah just 500 feet offshore. It wasn’t until 1985, however, that authentication of the treasure would be proven, when Clifford unearthed the Whydah’s bell that is inscribed with the name. Also, in 2013 a small placard was found that had the ship’s name and was inscribed with her maiden voyage date.

The Whydah Pirate Museum features replicas of the ship. All of the artifacts discovered so far are on display for viewing. Visitors are also able to learn about the excavation process and the technology used to restore and preserve, these one of a kind, treasures. Interactive and wonderfully unique, the Whydah Pirate Museum is a must visit.

Anchor.
Ship’s anchor.

Whydah Pirate Museum
674 MA-28
West Yarmouth, MA
508.534.9571
www.discoverpirates.com

More Museums on 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 guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of visiting museums 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.