Cape Cod Museum Trail: 1736 Josiah Dennis Manse Museum
By Chelsea Corson
Reverend Josiah Dennis, was the first minister of the Congregational Church of the East Precinct in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. Dennis was hired in 1727 and served for 36 years while calling, the manse his home. The town of Dennis was named in the Reverend’s honor when a part of the town of Yarmouth was separated, 30 years after the reverend’s passing in 1763.
When visiting Josiah Dennis Manse Museum, visitors are greeted and guided by authentically garbed doyens through each room of the studiously renovated home. The house itself, is a lovely example of a classic saltbox structure. The saltbox is a traditional style of architecture that is classic New England construction. A saltbox house has two stories on the front and a long sloping roof on the back that forms one story. Saltboxes are generally a wooden frame house with a central brick chimney. Walking through the house, I felt as if I had stepped back into the 1700’s. The volunteer guides do an excellent job of sharing the historical significance and interesting facts about the home as well as the family who once lived there.
There is a single room Schoolhouse on the Manse grounds, which was built circa 1745. Half of the room is furnished with traditional 1700’s classroom furniture and the other half with 1800’s furniture. It’s interesting to see the differences. Children also enjoy seeing this room because it is one of the “hands on” rooms in the museum, that allows them to explore and imagine what it would be like if they had lived and gone to school in the 1700’s or 1800’s. Another interactive room is on the second floor of the Manse. There one finds the spinning and weaving room, where visitors are encouraged to explore and touch the exhibit pieces.
The addition at the back of the Manse is a Maritime Room. Paintings, models, and dioramas of Dennis’ maritime history are on displayed. Pictures of the eight Shiverick Clipper Ships, a lightship model, and various mementos that were brought back, from all over the world, to Dennis by local sea captains. This addition is a lovely treat for maritime enthusiasts. We at the Inn enjoy learning about the cape’s nautical history, especially with the Palmer House Inn’s history of being home to a whaling ship owning family in the early 1900s.
This museum is located just a few blocks off route 6A and is close to the heart of Dennis Village. The museum is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer, which is a beautiful time of year to visit this historical site.
From the Palmer House Inn, it is a 50 min. drive to the 1736 Josiah Dennis Manse Museum. Visiting during the summer, you could visit the museum in the morning, followed by a picnic lunch on nearby Corporate Beach, which is less than a 5 min. drive. If you’re looking for a full Cape Cod experience, DMP Surfside Grill is right on the beach and has a fantastic selection of beach side seafood favorites. Try their Fish & Chips or Lobster Roll to round out a day of Cape-style history, architecture, cuisine, and a beautiful beach view.
For more information on the Josaih Dennis Manse Museum:
More museums on the Cape Cod Museum Trail
- Whydah Pirate Museum
- Cape Cod Museum Trail – Highfield Hall and Gardens
- Cape Cod’s Heritage Museums & Gardens
- Cotuit Center for the Arts
- Cape Cod Museum Trail
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.”
While all of our guestrooms 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, jetted tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.