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The First Cape Cod Base Ball Team

(From Dan Crowley’s “Baseball on Cape Cod”)

ccbl_logoThe Cape Cod Baseball League is recognized as the country’s most prestigious amateur baseball league. The rosters of all ten teams are stocked with the top college players from programs across the nation, many of whom are top MLB prospects and attract professional scouts.2

The history of the Cape League officially dates back to 1923, but the origins of baseball on Cape Cod extend back to 1865. The Nichols Base Ball Club of Sandwich was the first 9-man baseball team on Cape Cod. The Sandwich Independent reported a “base ball” game was played on School Street in November, 1865. The Nichols Club was officially formed in June of 1866. The club was named after Captain Edward Nichols, a retired sea captain. None of the farmers in Sandwich would rent a field to the team. Captain Nichols stepped forward and said the team was welcome to use his lot on School Street without charge. In return, the club was named in his honor.4

1880 Map of Sandwich showing location of the Nichols base ball field and Cpt. Nichols’ house at 139 Main St. (Click for Larger View)

Captain Edward Nichols was born in 1813 at Nantucket. He was for thirty-seven years engaged in the whale fishing, and master of a vessel for sixteen years prior to 1864, when he retired. He lived at 139 Main Street and owned the field on School street as well.

(Photo by the author)
139 Main St. (Photo by the author)

A newspaper report describes a game in Sandwich on August 13, 1867, between the Nichols Club and the visiting Cummaquid team. “For some years it was a wide-
awake institution,” reported one newspaper.

(CREDIT: Sarah McRoberts in Dan Crowley’s ” Baseball on Cape Cod “)

Today it seems odd to play baseball in November. In the early days it was not. On Election Day, November 7, 1867, for example, according to the Barnstable Patriot, the Cummaquids of Barnstable beat the Masketuketts of West Barnstable. As a matter of fact, in the 1870s, Sandwich’s “Star and Active” team played baseball on the ice of Mill Pond, every player on skates.

In Cape Cod League a Talent Showcase, James H. Ellis writes: “Appearance of baseball at this time was related to the Civil War. The game was popularized in the Army camps of 1861-65. Returning veterans spread the comparatively new game throughout the country. For a period, baseball was something of a spectacle. One veteran commenting in 1867 in the Barnstable Patriot said he liked the game even though the pitcher “sent `em in hot,” adding, “Hot balls in time of war are good. But I don’t like `em too hot for fun.” Another local commentator of the period thought, “It is the most radical play I know of, this base ball. Sawing cord wood is moonlight rambles beside base ball.” Nonetheless, baseball fever was raging on the Cape.”

Baseball game at Casino Field. The back of the Casino is on the left; School St. School on the right. (Courtesy Sandwich Town Archives)

In 1884 a casino was built on School Street next to the school (yes, there actually was a school on School St.) This was across the street from the Nichols lot (see above map). Not a gambling casino like we think of today but rather a function hall, a place for community gatherings. Baseball games were played behind the Casino.

(Courtesy National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, NY)

Some suggest that the Cape Cod Baseball League originated in 1885 (rather than 1923). “What seems to have happened is that an 1885 poster in the National Baseball Museum in Cooperstown came to light. The poster advertised a July Fourth game between Barnstable and Sandwich. From this early but incomplete evidence, it somehow seemed reasonable to trace the league’s traditions to that point. But the 1885 game, by contemporary news accounts, was at least the twelfth annual Fourth of July contest for the Barnstable squad.”4

Athletics 1888 Crowley
(From Dan Crowley’s “Baseball on Cape Cod”)
(From Dan Crowley's "Baseball on Cape Cod")
(From Dan Crowley’s “Baseball on Cape Cod”)
(From Dan Crowley's "Baseball on Cape Cod")
(From Dan Crowley’s “Baseball on Cape Cod”)

“The Cape League” was formed in 1923. The league consisted primarily of four teams from Falmouth, Hyannis, Osterville, and Chatham. But teams were also forming in other towns.

The Barnstable Patriot reported in 1923 that “Sandwich picked up the 5-4 win in a finely played game that featured a young man named Morrow pitching his very best, and having good support in the outfield.”5

In Baseball By the Beach Christopher Price writes: “A July 23rd note in the Patriot under the Sandwich section said the following: ‘What would baseball players do without the support of the fans? What care they, if a lady hustled the length of Main street in her kitchen apron, so anxious she was to get to the ball field and root.””

(From Dan Crowley's "Baseball on Cape Cod")
(From Dan Crowley’s “Baseball on Cape Cod”)

The Cape League varied during its first two decades. Towns were in one year and out the next. It was expensive to run a team. In addition to the original four, entries from Barnstable village, Bourne, Chatham-Harwich, Harwich, Orleans, Provincetown and Wareham participated. Teams did not limit themselves to league play, however. City clubs commonly were engaged. In 1929 Falmouth even took on the Boston Braves, losing an 8-7 exhibition. The Enterprise earlier had commented, “The caliber of ball in the league is being recognized by all the Boston experts as about as good as can be found outside the Big Show.”

In 1946, the league was split into the Upper and Lower Cape divisions. The Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Otis Air Force Base and the Cape Verdean Club also entered teams.

In 1949 Sandwich was faced with a dilemma. Author Christopher Price explains: “Only six young men were interested in playing on the town team. Shortly after, Sandwich ceased to field a baseball team at the highest level of competition on Cape Cod, and several of the players joined the fledgling Cotuit franchise” (today known as the Cotuit Kettleers).

In the 1990s the Cape Cod Baseball League discussed expanding from 8 to 10 teams. Sandwich’s historical advantage was considered a good reason for the town with the Cape’s first official team to form a new team and re-enter the League at this time. There were five candidates in all: Bourne, Brewster, Plymouth, Mashpee and Sandwich. A heated discussion took place and finally by a 31-2 vote, the League approved Bourne and Brewster as the newest members.5

Over time, the Cape Cod Baseball League has grown into the most elite and well-known college summer league in America.4

On July 12, 2004 a Cape League game between Hyannis and Wareham was played in Sandwich. According to an article on the CCBL website this game “didn’t just represent a routine weeknight contest between two West Division clubs. It represented an effort to bring the league back to its heritage and to include Sandwich baseball fans in the best family entertainment on the Cape. ‘It’s wonderful to bring baseball back to Sandwich, particularly with the recent discovery that the Cape League’s roots might go back to 1865 (in Sandwich) – we already know they definitely go back to 1885,’ said league president Judy Walden Scarafile. ‘This has been a hotbed of baseball for a long time.'”

Bourne Braves host the Falmouth Commodores at Fenton Field, newly restored by the Sandwich 375th Committee
Bourne Braves host the Falmouth Commodores at Fenton Field, newly restored by the Sandwich 375th Committee in 2014

On June 14, 2014, as part of Sandwich’s 375th anniversary celebration, a Cape Cod Baseball League game between the Bourne Braves and the Falmouth Commodores was played at Fenton Field in Sandwich, yet another tribute to the town where Cape Cod Baseball began!



1. Crowley, Dan, Baseball on Cape Cod
2. Davidson, Molly, Play Ball! A brief history of the Cape Cod Baseball League
3. Deyo, Simeon L., History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts
4. Ellis, James H., “Cape Cod League a Talent Showcase”
5. Price, Christopher, Baseball By the Beach
6. Weissman, Steve, “Beach Chairs and Baseball Bats: A Celebration of the Cape Cod Baseball League”


Of Seals and Sandwiches

Town of Sandwich Seal in wood and rope (Don Bayley photo)

The Name “Sandwich”

Sandwich, Massachusetts is named for the seaport of Sandwich, Kent, England. The name “Sandwich” comes from Old English (O.E.) Sandwic, and literally means “sand village,” “sandy place,” or “place on the sand.” The old English wic is a loan word from Latin vicus, which also gives us the word vicinity. The word “sandwich” as an item of food came into being centuries later (we’ll get to that in a bit) . The first recorded mention of Sandwich in the United kingdom was around 664 AD but there was probably some kind of settlement in Roman times as the site is very close to a Roman Fort (Rutupiae).

The Town Seal

By 1900 all towns in Massachusetts were required to establish a town seal. Sandwich historian Jonathan Shaw explains how the Sandwich seal was developed:

“My grandmother was a professional illustrator. Her maiden name was Melanie Elisabeth Norton (1868-1933) and this was the name she customarily used for her professional work. She conceived and drew the Town Seal of Sandwich, Massachusetts which she completed in 1901 [or possibly it was adopted by the Selectmen in 1901]. According to her son, Jonathan Norton Leonard, Science Editor of Time Magazine, in his 7 August 1971 letter to Channing Hoxie, Town Clerk of Sandwich, MA, ‘She was planning a trip to England so the Selectmen asked her to go to the old Town of Sandwich in Kent [England] to see if it had a seal that could be adapted for our use.’ Melanie Elisabeth Norton utilized the three ships on seal of the Town of Sandwich England substituting on the prow of each ship the head of American eagle for the British lion.

“The rope & wood Town Seal (shown above) has charm, but it is NOT an accurate depiction of the Town Seal as completed and adopted. The most glaring feature is the prows of the three ships. Melanie Elisabeth Norton replaced the British lions with American eagles, displaying the eye, beak and head of the American eagle. The rope & wood version of the eagles is incomprehensible and it is impossible even to guess what it represents.

Scan of jacket cover from the Lovell book.

“The most accurate copy of the original adopted by the Selectmen that I am aware of appears on the paper jacket cover of R. A. Lovell’s history of Sandwich: Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town [1996 edition]. Though the image is only about an inch across, it is possible to just see the beak and eye of each eagle.

“One wonders if the Town Archives might have a larger copy. Alternatively, since Massachusetts required each of its Towns to have a Town Seal by the 1900, there may be a copy of our Town Seal, and other Town Seals, in the archives of the Commonwealth, though my limited search on the internet turned up the seals of many many Massachusetts towns, but not the seal of our town.”

The Motto

Melanie Elisabeth Norton chose for the motto of Sandwich, Massachusetts the motto of the Earl of Sandwich:Post Tot Naufragia Portus.It translates to:Safe Harbor (or Haven) After Many a Shipwreck.” The motto can be seen in this picture of the Montague family Coat of Arms. (Click for larger view.)


John William Montague (1718-1792), was the 4th Earl of Sandwich. It is said that we get the name of the “sandwich” we eat from the 4th Earl. Legend has it that Montague was a hardened gambler and usually gambled for hours at a time at a restaurant, sometimes refusing to get up even for meals. He ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread so he didn’t need to bother with utensils to eat it. Because Montague was also known as the Earl of Sandwich, others began to order “the same as Sandwich!” And the name stuck.

An alternative explanation is that the Earl invented it to sustain himself at his desk, which seems plausible since there is ample evidence of the long hours he worked from an early start, in an age when dinner was the only substantial meal of the day, and the fashionable hour to dine was four o’clock.

Note however, the family of the Earls of Sandwich has no real connection to the English town itself, only the title. Apparently, the First Earl, Edward Montagu, originally intended to take the title of the Earl of Portsmouth—this might have been changed to honor the town of Sandwich, because the fleet he was commanding in 1660 was lying off the coast of Sandwich, before it sailed to bring Charles II back to England.

We can be thankful the name was changed, otherwise we’d be eating Peanut Butter Portsmouths!

–Don Bayley, Sandwich Historical Commission



Jonathan Shaw
Origin of Sandwich and The sandwich
OPEN SANDWICH: History of Sandwich Kent
Hexmaster’s Factoids

Parson’s Walk

Did you know there is a town-owned pathway from the Library parking lot through the woods all the way to School Street? It is called “Parson’s Walk” or “Parson’s Way.” The MACRIS Form on file with the Massachusetts Historical Commission states: “The Parson’s Walk is named for a pathway from School Street to the back of the 1st Church of Christ (136 Main Street, MHC #239, 1848), connecting it with the historic Parsonage at 14 School Street (MHC #248, ca. 1870).

In the past, the path was used by pedestrians to walk between Town Hall Square and points west and north, the School Street baseball field, grammar school and casino (all now gone).  The area now is heavily wooded and provides a relatively unencumbered natural habitat for flora and fauna. It includes the top of a moderately sloping knoll and a wetland depression. Only the southwest-facing slope of the knoll, as viewed from Water Street, is landscaped.

The 1st Church of Christ uses about 1500 sq. ft. of the area as a playground for its Day School. The balance of the area is primitive with no records of building or agricultural activity in the area since the first European settlement in the vicinity in 1637. Care is provided by the Town of Sandwich under the Conservation Commission. (There is a primitive gravel and granite step path leading from the Library parking lot to the back of the 1st Church parking lot, dedicated to Jack and Clara Field. This path is unrelated to the historic Parson’s Walk. View entire MACRIS form and see a Locus Map of Parson’s Walk

Dodge Macknight

Dodge Macknight by John Peter Russell — Macknight married the governess of Russell’s children, Louise Queyrel. This portrait (ca. 1888) was bequeathed by Macknight to his sister-in-law, Elise Queyrel. (public domain photo)

Dodge Macknight (1860-1950) was regarded by many of his contemporaries as America’s first modernist. His connection to Sandwich starts with John H. Foster (1853 – 1935).

In Sandwich: A Cape Cod Town, historian Russell Lovell writes about Foster: “Born in the ‘Skiff House’ in Spring Hill, this adventurer went to Amsterdam with a diamond buyer, and with a flair for social life founded a series of dancing schools in European capitals which became fashionable and profitable. He built an eclectic mansion on a hilltop in Spring Hill called ‘Masthead‘ where he entertained Grover Cleveland and many others.”

“Masthead” (Credit: Caters News Agency)

“John’s French wife Celeste operated a dress shop in New York. She and John travelled to Europe yearly. A nephew of John’s, Chester Foster, became an assistant in operating the Foster dancing schools in Europe, and a niece Ida Putnam of Spring Hill worked as an accountant at the dress shop winters in New York.” (Ida Putnam converted Green Briar Boiling Springs Spa to Sandwich’s unique Jam Kitchen in 1903.)

“John had known the American watercolorist Dodge Macknight in Europe, and found in 1900 that Macknight had returned to this country and was visiting Cape Cod as a new subject for his watercolors. Through John Foster, Macknight bought the Spring Hill house at 260 Route 6A, formerly the Quaker school of Joseph and Mercy Wing. This he called ‘The Hedges’ and made it his home for the rest of his life. From here he still travelled widely to paint, and entertained many famous artists in this home. His household consisted of his French wife Louise, their son John, and her sister Elise Queyrel. He became a friend of Isabella Stewart Gardner who bought many of his works.” Gardner hung them in a “Macknight Room” at her home on The Fenway, now the Gardner Museum.

A Lane Through an Orange Grove, Orihuela, 1904, Macknight Room, Gardner Museum
A Lane Through an Orange Grove, Orihuela, 1904, Macknight Room, Gardner Museum. Inscribed at the foot on the right: Dodge Macknight, and on the left: To my/dear friend/Isabella Stuart [sic] Gardner. (Click for larger view)
Lovell continues, “In 1911 John Foster’s wife Celeste died and John became a more regular Sandwich resident. Chester Foster and his Roumanian wife Iza (Willemot) returned to Spring Hill and occupied the house at 1 Spring Hill Road. It was just across from Vodon’s glass-cutting shop, and these three French-speaking households all enjoyed talking to Vodon with his Belgian French.

“With Macknight’s guidance, Chester became a skilled artist, and his early death in 1925 at only 51 was a great loss. Macknight’s son John was a noted concert flutist but had been injured in World War I, and died in 1928. At this sorrow, Macknight, then 68, ceased all painting and devoted himself to his beautiful garden at ‘The Hedges.’ He gave and loaned pictures to the Sandwich Public Library, and at his death in 1950 he left the bulk of his considerable estate to the Library, but with the income to go to Elise Queyrel during her life-time. The house was later purchased by musician John Houston and his wife artist Winnie (Fitch), who renamed the house ‘Hedgerow.’”

In honor of Dodge Macknight the Sandwich Library dedicated a room for him and the Town Archives are housed there. “Hedgerow,” the old Quaker school, was recently restored by a Nantucket design company and resold.

In 1883 Dodge Macknight went to Paris and became friends with Vincent Van Gogh. He also had a show of his watercolors at John Singer Sargent’s studio in London in 1890.

–Compiled by Don Bayley, Sandwich Historical Commission

Sources Consulted/Additional Reading:

Lovell, Russell, Sandwich: A Cape Cod Town, Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center. William S. Sullwold Publishing, Inc. Taunton, Mass. 1984.

The Boyden Block

Main St 1880
Photo taken circa 1905. From left to right: Unitarian church, Boyden Block and Central House (now gone), Nancy Fessenden House, Apothecary Shop, Thayer House
Main St 2012
Photo taken April, 2012. From left to right: Unitarian Church (now private residence),Town Hall Annex (hidden by trees, formerly Coop Bank, on site of Boyden Block),Dan’l. Webster Inn (set back from street, on site of Boyden Block and Central House),Nancy Fessenden House, Spotted Cod (formerly Apothecary Shop), The Brown Jug (formerly Thayer House)

A Bit About W. E. Boyden

William Ellis Boyden was born in 1807. He ran the Plymouth/Sandwich Stage coach operation starting in 1822. After the Cape Cod Branch Railroad came to town in 1848, he formed the Cape Cod Express Company for handling, packing, picking up and delivering local freight and for moving the mail between post offices and trains. Boyden was a chief supporter of a Universalist religious society which built a church in 1845 on the corner of Main and Summer Streets. Membership soon declined and the church was closed in 1869.

Boyden served as President of the new Sandwich Savings Bank which was founded in 1856 by glass factory owner Deming Jarves and other local merchants and landowners.

Boyden Block before 1880 with Plymouth stages, Unitarian Church with “Old Titus Clock” on left
(Courtesy Sandwich Town Archives)

In 1857 he established what became known as the “Boyden Block” on Main Street between the Unitarian Church and the Central House. It consisted of a long building of several shops and a large hall upstairs where the DeWitt Clinton Lodge of Masons met and the Charles Chipman Post #132 G. A. R. and Relief Corps and Sons of Veterans had its headquarters. He also built a large livery stable adjoining where he kept his old Plymouth stage coaches. The Boyden Block and Boyden’s homes were built by Gustavus Howland who also built the Boardwalk. He was the son of Ellis Howland who built Sandwich Town Hall in 1834.

Boyden supported the Sandwich troops in the Civil War and gave a sword to Captain Charles Chipman of the Sandwich Guards. In 1884 he was instrumental in building a large Casino on School Street (now gone).

William Ellis Boyden died in 1879. He had four children including Willard Ellis Boyden who inherited the property. Willard went bankrupt in 1900 and lost all of the property including the house and Boyden Block.

In December, 1913 the Boyden Block was destroyed by fire. According to an article in the Barnstable Patriot, at the time of the fire the Block was home to S. R. Bourne’s paint shop, Philip Govoni’s fruit store, furniture upholsterer E. H. Woodward, a hat store, a variety store owned by Mrs. A. W. Parks and Mrs. Frank Galdro, and electrical contractors named Garland and Bartley. All eighteen horses from the livery stable (owned at the time by J. R. Holway) were rescued but most of the beautiful Plymouth stages were lost.


The W. E. Boyden House, a large 2½ story 2-family home built with both Greek Revival and Italianate features was built circa 1842. It still stands at 148-150 Main Street and is in beautiful condition. The left side of the house was occupied by Nathaniel Howard who was in a limited partnership with William Boyden. Howard ran the stage service between Hyannis and Sandwich. Boyden basically operated between Sandwich and Plymouth. We have learned from the current owner that the original house had 5 rooms on each side for a total of 10 rooms. The left side was rented and the materials in it were of average quality. However the right side was occupied by Boyden and he used expensive materials, e.g. marble fire places rather than brick. Mr. Boyden added the ell on the right side around 1846. It measures 36×15 and was incorporated into the double house. This greatly enhanced his side of the house to 10 rooms. It is believed the original structure was done in federal style, but the gable end faces the street to accommodate the double house. Sometime during the Victorian period the porch was added along with the distinctive column bracing.

Boyden also owned a farm located off today’s Route 130/Cotuit Road and running down to the shore of Peter’s Pond. Agricultural activities ceased in 1932. In 1986 the parcel was purchased by the town with the invaluable assistance of John A. Ohman, other local conservationists and funds from the state Self Help Fund. Known as the Boyden Farm Conservation Lands, this area is now preserved by the Sandwich Conservation Commission.


In the History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890, edited by Simeon L. Deyo, there is a great passage on Boyden:

“In 1822, when a line of stages between Plymouth and Sandwich was established, Mr. Boyden moved to Sandwich. He was an active, persevering young man, making daily trips from Sandwich to Plymouth and return. This he did as proprietor, for a period of twenty-six consecutive years without a week day that he was not engaged on the route.

The present Central Hotel, of Sandwich, was the Cape terminus of the line, and from there started the Falmouth, Yarmouth and south-side stages, in which Mr. Boyden was more or less interested. He drove four horses, to one of those old-fashioned coaches, and it was a characteristic of his to be on his schedule time if human device or energy could prevail.

Once on his way to Plymouth he was snow-bound at Cook’s hill and could proceed no further with his coach, but with his usual zeal he provided for his passengers, tied the mails to his horses’ backs, placed the four horses in a single line and forced his way. This particular coach remained under the snow ten days.

Mr. Boyden was necessary to the success of this line, and for the period ending with the advent of the railroad was a strong factor in the welfare and development of the Cape. It is said that on the day preceding a Thanksgiving, he brought in thirteen coaches filled with passengers.

He was identified with every improvement of his town, and was actively engaged in public affairs. His political views, always democratic, were marked by a firmness which was known and respected.

In 1836 the result of the presidential election between whig and democrat was yet undecided, when a crowd of both parties assembled at the tavern to await the news by Mr. Boyden’s stage. He soon came swinging around the bend by the Unitarian church, but the peculiar ring of his whip as he menaced his four grays, caused the whigs to turn and say, “No good news for us.””


1860 Census, Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts; Roll: M653_486; Page: 24; Image: 24; Family History Library Film: 803486
Cullity, John, President, The Sandwich Conservation Trust
Daley, Bill, Sandwich Historical Commission
Deyo, Simeon L, ed., History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890. New York: H. W. Blake & Co, pages 302-322 of CHAPTER XIV (biographical sketches, Sandwich)
DeGraw, Andrew, Jr., dedication brochure for Boyden Farms Conservation Land, Apr. 23, 1994.
Lovell, Russell. Sandwich. A Cape Cod Town. Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center. William S. Sullwold Publishing, Inc. Taunton, Mass. 1984.
Massachusetts Historical Commission Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS)Inventory: SDW.A: Sandwich Center Village; SDW.S, SDW.X: Town Hall Square Historic District
Sheedy, Jack, article in Summerscape, 2012, The Barnstable Patriot & Cape Cod Times
Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center: Historic Resource Survey Files, SHC Asset Files.

Researching Your House History

There are hundreds of historic houses in Sandwich. The Historical Commission is currently working on updating histories of these homes for the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS). Many of these histories haven’t been updated since the 1970s.

If you’d like to research the history of your own home and at the same time help with the MACRIS Project, here’s how to get started:

1. Take a look at a few of the house histories we’ve updated.

(NOTE: This will download PDF files. These may not load correctly if you are using the IE browser.)


166 MAIN STREET/ .230

This will give you an idea of what MACRIS “Form B” is all about.

2. Become familiar with the MACRIS website:

The Massachusetts Historic Commission (MHC) hosts a database known as the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS).
View this short video (produced by the West Tisbury Historical Commission) to learn how to access MACRIS.


Go to the Sandwich database on MACRIS and find the Form B for your house.

3. Visit the Town’s mapping website.

You will be using this site to obtain information for MACRIS Form B (parcel IDs, land area, year built and maps).

There is a Quick Search box at the upper right.
–Enter house # and street name (ie. 166 Main St)
–A map will appear with property outlined in red
–On the right you will see Parcel ID Number (ie. 73-116).
–Enter this in the Assessor’s Number box on Form B
–You will also find links to Assessor Property Record Cards to help research built date, design, etc.
–Zoom out on the map so you can see the property (outlined in red) and environs (including local street names if possible).
–Using a snipping tool (COMMAND-SHIFT-4 on Macs)  select a box apx. 300 x 350 pixels.
–Save as a jpg and paste into Form B “Locus Map” box.

4. Visit the Sandwich Town Archives.

(Check with Archivist Deborah Rich for updated info. The following was complied several years ago –Don) 

The Archives are located in the McKnight Room in the back of the Library and open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 12: 30, and 1:30 to 4:30.

Here you will find:

a) Historical Commission Asset Files: This is a good place to start your house history search. There is a folder for each house containing information that has been collected over the years. Ask us or Archivist Barbara Gill for the Historical Commission’s Asset Number for your house. There is also a zoning map in the Archives where you can look up your property and get the Asset Number. The actual folders are in file cabinets along the back (west) wall in numerical order.

b) Photos: There is a Photo Index in four notebooks located above the file cabinets along the west wall. The actual photos are in archival storage boxes on shelves along the east wall

c) Maps: The two best ones are:

–The 1858 Walling Sandwich Village Map w/ Business Directory

It is also available on our website: 1858 Walling Map

–Walker’s 1880 Atlas of Barnstable County, Massachusetts

There a reproduction of this map in a book in the Archives

–Other maps can be found here:

d) “Manuscript Collection:” These are in folders in two 3-drawer file cabinets. Here you will find pamphlets, reports, and newspaper clippings organized by Subject, Institutions and Families. In the Family files are deeds, correspondence and other documents which date from the 17th through 19th centuries.

A complete Index is available. Ask Deborah for the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled: “Sandwich Public Library Cabinet List.”

Subject Files and Family Files are located in A-Z folders in the legal-size file cabinets along the west wall

e) Tax Records of the Office of the Assessor: 1783-1860 and 1903-1945 (incomplete). These can often be a great help in researching who owned a home and when. But, as noted, these are incomplete.

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled: “Town Archives-Assesors Books.”

Items: 1783 – 1860 are located along west wall; 1903 – 1945 are in Library storage downstairs.

f) Census on microfilm: Head of Household only: 1820, 1830, 1840 All family members:1850, 1855, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 (newer are online)

Index in 3×5 file cabinets, west wall and in notebooks above cabinets
Actual Items: microfilm cabinets
NOTE: several US Census reports, Massachusetts Marriages, 1633-1850, etc. are available on-line via

g) Obits: these are photocopies of newspaper obits and articles; they begin in the 1890s. There is no Index. the actual items are in A-Z notebooks, west wall

h) Cemetery Records: Gravestone name index to 1985. You will find these in 3×5 file cabinets, west wall

i) Other items on microfilm: Genealogical Notes Of Cape Cod Families, Sandwich Quaker Records. Index: 3×5 file cabinets, west wall

j) Books: There are several copies of local historian Russell Lovell’s book, Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town in the Archives. This is a great resource. You may find additional information about the early inhabitants of your home here as well as bits of history that may have taken place in your neighborhood, even on your street.
Other worthwhile books include:

Barlow, Raymond E. & Kaiser, Joan E., The Glass Industry in Sandwich, Vol. 1-5. Windham, NH: Kaiser Publishing Company, Inc., 1989-1993.
Cullity, Rosanna & Cullity, John Nye, A Sandwich Album, Sandwich, MA: The Nye Family of America Association, Inc., 1987.
Lovell, R. A. Jr., Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town. Taunton, MA: Town of Sandwich Massachusetts Archives and Historical Center, 1996.
Vuilleumier, Marion R., Scenes of America Sandwich Cape Cod’s Oldest Town. Portsmouth, NH: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

Complete General Index of Sandwich Massachusetts Archives, June 2011:

(PDF Download)

5. Other Sources

Area churches have archives. Here’s a list:

a) First Church of Christ, United Church of Christ:
Historical records, 1730-1975
Access: by permission of church staff, 508-888-0434.

Church Records included:
Calvinistic Congregational Society, the Pilgrim Church, the Sandwich Federated Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Congregational Church, the Unitarian Congregation, First Parish Church, and the First Church of Christ.

Records of baptisms, weddings, funerals; Sandwich Federated Church, 1944-1969

[Alpha index of church members], 1886-1970s; compiled by Barbara Gill

Church record, Methodist Episcopal Church, 1796-1874; history of church, membership, marriage, baptismal records

First Church Records, 1640-1954 ; marriage baptisms, membership, list of pastors

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled “First Church records.”

b) Corpus Christi Parish:
Historical records, 1845- date. Access: by permission of the parish staff, 508-888-0209.

Collection consists of 31 volumes of records of marriages, deaths, baptisms, confirmations and First Communions, from 1845 on. Also includes an incomplete cemetery register and copy of a cemetery book from 1890

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled
“Corpus Christi Parish.”

c) St. John’s Episcopal Church:

Historical records, 1854-1968. Access: by permission of church staff, 508-888-2828.
File Cabinet

Annual meeting records, and records of membership, marriage, baptisms and deaths. Also includes correspondence, receipts and deeds pertaining to the building and its construction in 1899.

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled
“St Johns Episcopal Church.”


6. How to Enter Your House History on MACRIS Form B

If you are not totally exhausted by now (!) and still want to proceed, here’s how:

Ask us for a Form B Template for your Area. Page 1 of the form looks like this. Scroll down and follow the red numbers step-by-step.


1. Assesors’s Number: This is the Parcel ID. Obtain from the Town Assessor’s Website:
Enter Street name then House Number, Click Property Search. Map ID and Parcel ID will appear. On the above example, 73 is the Map ID, 116 is the Parcel ID.  (Don’t close the window for this website; we will be using it again later.)

2. USGS Quad: This is always going to be “Sandwich”

3. Area: MACRIS has divided the town into the following areas:

SDW.A Sandwich Center Village Sandwich
SDW.B Sandwich Center – East Sandwich
SDW.C Jarvesville Sandwich
SDW.D Main Street – Charles Street Area Sandwich
SDW.E Route 6A – Sandwich Village Bypass Area Sandwich
SDW.F Shawme Road Area Sandwich
SDW.G Route 6A – West Area Sandwich
SDW.H Town Neck Sandwich
SDW.I Main Street – Route 130 Area Sandwich
SDW.J Forestdale Sandwich
SDW.K South Sandwich Sandwich
SDW.L Spring Hill Sandwich
SDW.M Route 6A Area Sandwich
SDW.N Route 6A East – Scorton Marsh Sandwich
SDW.O Old County Road Area
SDW.P Crow Farm Sandwich
SDW.Q Sandwich Fish Hatchery Sandwich
SDW.R Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Sandwich
SDW.S Town Hall Square Historic District Sandwich
SDW.T Camp Edwards – Cantonment Blocks 12 and 13 Sandwich
SDW.U Otis Air Force Base – BOMARC Missle Facility Sandwich
SDW.V Camp Edwards Firing Ranges Sandwich
SDW.W Jarvesville Historic District Sandwich
SDW.X Town Hall Square Historic District Sandwich
SDW.Y Spring Hill Historic District

(SDW = SanDWich)

There are PDF files online for each area. Become familiar with these, They will tell you which area your house is in and also provide information for Page 2 of Form B.

(See above video for additional MACRIS help.)

Go to

Select Sandwich and Add to List, click Next.

Select Area and Add to List, click Next. You will now have links to all the Area PDf files. You may want to download the ones for your area(s) to your PC.

4. Form Number: This is the Historical Commission Asset Number for your house, ie. “SDW.230.” (The Archives has a file with SDW numbers, or obtain them from MACRIS online.)

5. Place: The description of your Area (from list above) For example Area O is “Old County Road Area”

6. Historic Name: Usually you can obtain this from the old MACRIS for your house. Go to the MACRIS website, Select Sandwich, Add to List, click Next. Type in your street name (ie. Main St) then click Next. You will get a list of all the houses on your street with Historic Property Names for those built prior to 1900. To view the Form B for your house just click the pdf link.

7. Uses: Usually you can obtain this from the Assessors website and/or the old MACRIS Form B for your home.

8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15: Start with the info from the old MACRIS Form B for your house and update, if need be, as you do your research.

16. Acreage: Get this from the Assessor’s website:

17. Setting: This can be found in the Area pdf files (see #3 above).

Finally, we get to Page 2 (whew!):

MACRIS Form B, page 2

18: This can be usually found in the Area pdf files (see #3 above).

19, 20: Start with the old Form B for your house then add, correct and compile using the results of your research in the Archives and/or online.


Here are the guidelines from MACRIS: “In most circumstances, the optimal primary view of a building is a three-quarter view, showing two sides of a structure. Secondary views showing the other facades or significant details are encouraged. Photographs should be taken when deciduous foliage (or snow) does not obscure parts of the building or structure. If photography at that time of year is not possible, find views of properties in which tree cover does not obscure significant features of a house. A view of a rear elevation taken through trees in leaf provides minimally useful information. While sunlight on one or both of the facades being shot often makes an attractive image, the best conditions for photographing a property are when the sky is overcast, so that no elements will be cast in deep shadow.”

Locus Map:

–go to Sandwich Town Mapping System
–enter street name
–enter street #
–click Property Search, map will appear with property outlined in red and on the right you will see
Parcel Number (ie. 82-014) and Land Area (ie. 1.02 acre). Also note Year Built and Design. (These will be helpful when completing the MACRIS forms).
–zoom out (click [-]) (to show more nearby homes and streets)
–click Interactive Mapping
–under Map Labels drop-down, select House Numbers and Road Names

–click Refresh Map
–under Printable Maps drop-down, select 8 1/2 x 11
–click File, Print
–under Printer Name drop-down, select PDF 995 (or similar),
–select a folder on your computer and save the PDF


Whew! you’re done.


The Only Way to Get to to Barnstable

by Don Bayley

Today’s Old County Road in East Sandwich follows the original route of the Old King’s Highway which followed native American trails meandering along the southern edge of Scorton Marsh. Until about 1847, there wasn’t a road where Route 6A is today. Old County Road was part of the “Barnstable and Sandwich Road” and was the only way to get from Sandwich Center to Barnstable village.


On the map you will also see Old Mill Road. This was a main thoroughfare to and from South Sandwich and was also known as “the Road to Falmouth.” Today it is a dead-end, totally cut off from South Sandwich (and Falmouth) by the Mid-Cape Highway.

A Busy Village with a Tavern

Because Old County Road was the main thoroughfare for stage coaches, the area in the vicinity of the Nye Homestead became a busy country village between roughly 1750 and 1850. The area was known as Cedarville. There was a gristmill, carding mill, a general store, a cobbler, hatter, tannery, two blacksmith shops, a boat shop, post office, about 8 farms, a stagecoach stop and a tavern.

#108 Old County Road: Former Hall Tavern and Library
#108 Old County Road: Former Hall Tavern and Library

The tavern was at 108 Old County Road. It is thought the house here started as a smaller dwelling probably built by Benjamin Nye (1673-1750) who acquired land here around 1699 when he married Hannah Backus. A larger house was then built and occupied by son Benjamin Nye (1717-1801) on his marriage in 1740 to Mary Swift. In 1794 Benjamin sold the property to Joseph Hall and he opened a tavern.

An advertisement dated Dec 2, 1830 notified the public that Hall had “…opened his Commodious House…for a TAVERN—where good entertainment will be furnished, and strict attention paid to the comfort of customers.” Hall added 2 wings and extensive ells with auxiliary shops. Another ad stated he sold dry goods, school books, hardware, “West India Goods and groceries,…gunpowder, Shot of all sizes, Percussion Caps, …iron ploughs” and tools. Hall was also a Postal Agent. The tavern closed in the 1850s when the Cape Cod Railway was pushed through and there was no longer a need for a stage coach stop. In 1857 Hall’s son Joseph wrote a poem about the tavern, grocery and stores titled “Our Village: or Old Times and New.”

Mill Pond Farm

The Hall Tavern building later became a farm house. In 1866 Hall’s widow Lydia sold the house back into the Nye family and Samuel Henry Nye, a Civil War veteran established here a rather progressive enterprise called “Mill Pond Farm.” He was able to specialize in dairy products due to the cooling provided by water from an artesian well and an excellent springhouse. The farm had Jersey cattle, poultry, an ice house, orchards, trout pools and a windmill to pump water and run machinery.

Cedarville School

Cedarville also had its own school. Before centralization the town was divided into 20 numbered school districts. The Cedarville school was in District II, and was located on a small hill a hundred yards northwest of the Old County Rd. railroad crossing near Hoxie Pond as shown on the 1857 and 1880 maps. The one-room school was known for its excellent teachers and enthusiastic students. By 1845 people who attended the school organized a Friday night reading circle which met in various homes, including the Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum, and a bi-weekly, hand-written, single-copy literary magazine called the “Cedarville Gem,” which was passed from house to house. This creative effort continued until 1861.

Desk from Cedarville School
Desk from Cedarville School on Display at the Nye Museum

In 1878, men who had been pupils in the old school house there, formed the Cedarville School Association, bought the building and lot, and from city and farm, wherever scattered, held a mid-summer meeting within the walls of the old school house. It was modeled into a suitable hall and was the meeting place of the East Sandwich Grange until its own hall was completed.

In 1896 the school building was moved to what is now Cedarville Road (a private way), and remade into a farmhouse. It was occupied by R. Frank Armstrong and his wife Rosa 1896-1907, rented for a while, then given by Rosa to her daughter Anna and husband Sam White. Granddaughter Rasanna Cullity now lives in the old Cedarville School building and has donated to the Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum an original school desk, school books and other items from the school, as passed down through her family. These school artifacts are kept in the rear upstairs exhibit room of the Homestead.

1857 map showing locations of the Cedarville School, J. Hoxie and S. Nye houses, the Grist Mill and the tavern ("Mrs. Hall").
1857 map showing locations of the Cedarville School, J. Hoxie and S. Nye houses, the Grist Mill and the tavern (“Mrs. Hall”). (CLICK MAP FOR LARGER VIEW)


Cedarville Library

108 Old County Road, which housed the tavern, was also a library. From 1861 to 1914 the Cedarville Library operated in a front room of the house. It started with 25 volumes which grew to over 500 in the years to come. Ruth Nye was the librarian, her husband, Samuel, and several neighbors served as trustees. The house and farm passed to Nye’s daughter Rosa who married R. Frank Armstrong. In 1979 their son Lindsay Armstrong, a former Selectman, recorded an oral history interview which is in the Town Archives. Original books and records from the Cedarville Library can be seen today at the Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum.

The Nye Grist Mill, Homestead and Grange Hall

In 1665 the Town of Sandwich gave 12 acres in East Sandwich to Benjamin Nye (1620-c.1704), one of the town’s early and long-term settlers, for the purpose of building a grist mill. The reason for this was to encourage competition because Thomas Dexter Jr., who ran the grist mill in the center of Sandwich, was taking a larger toll from each bushel than town officials thought he should get. Nye completed building his mill in 1669 on a creek running from Nye Pond (which crosses under today’s Old County Road). He added a fulling mill to the site in 1676. In 1678 he moved his family from earlier dwelling on Spring Hill to a house built next to the mill at today’s #85 Old County Road.

Nye Homestead and Grange Hall
Nye Homestead and Grange Hall

In 1806 the Nye mill contained the first carding machines on Cape Cod. This mill was operated by the Nye family until 1867 when it was abandoned. In 1889 a building was moved to the site from Centerville and a second gristmill was established. It did not do too well and the site was purchased by John Armstrong who ran a jewelry and electroplating shop in the building which is still standing today. He and John Carlton started a fish hatchery on the site which was taken over by the Commonwealth in 1912.

Located between the Nye Homestead and Armstrong’s old shop is the East Sandwich Grange. In History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, edited by Simeon L. Deyo 1890 we read:

“Grange, No. 139, of East Sandwich, was chartered March 4, 1887, with a membership of 21. Samuel H. Nye was chosen master; John F. Carlton, lecturer; Mrs. Jerome Holway, secretary: and Joseph Ewer, overseer. In 1889 this Grange numbered 52, and an association was formed by its members, called The East Sandwich Mill and Hall Association, the object being to erect a grist mill and Grange Hall. A mill was purchased at Centerville, transported and erected upon the site where Dea. Samuel H. Nye’s mill stood so long; and a commodious hall for public use, as well as their own, has been erected apart from the grist mill. The stockholders are members of the Grange but others than members were permitted to take shares. Joseph Ewer was elected president of the association and Samuel H. Nye, superintendent.”

In 1924 the Nye property including a game farm was given to the Commonwealth which had earlier acquired the fish hatchery. Early concrete in-ground fish tanks remain behind the Grange building, while more recent above-ground circular metal tanks are located behind the Nye house. The hatchery was abandoned around 1990 but the Commonwealth still operates a workshop here. In 1962 the Nye Family of America Association regained ownership of the Benjamin Nye Homestead and since then has been operating it as a museum. They acquired the East Sandwich Grange Hall in 1991. The Nye Homestead is open for tours. Check their website for information.

Hoxie Shoots a Wolf; Daniel Webster Fished Here

The house at 82 Old County Road (across the street from the Nye Homestead) started as a full cape ca.1765 but was “raised up” to a colonial style at some point. It was occupied by Joseph Nye III (1742-1816) on his marriage to Mary Winslow. Area historian John Nye Cullity stated that this house is “a superb example of a well preserved, late 18th Century structure.” Joseph was a Selectman, a Representative and a distinguished Patriot leader in Sandwich during the Revolution.

"Cedarvile" Today: #82 Old County Rd./Joseph Nye III House on right
“Cedarvile” Today: #82 Old County Rd./Joseph Nye III House on right

Number 82 Old County Road passed to Joseph’s nephew also a Joseph, to his son Joseph Jr. and thence was sold, in 1822, to another Joseph: Joseph Hoxie (1798-1890). Hoxie was an important member of the community and of Friends Meeting (Quakers). He kept a shoe shop near the Nye Mill. He was also farmer, postmaster, school committeeman and a Selectman. Joseph also served 2 terms as a state Representative. In June, 1829, he shot a much sought-after wolf which, in previous years, had killed numerous sheep in the Upper Cape area. Hoxie left a large collection of tools, letters and documents to the Sandwich Historical Society/Glass Museum. The house appears on the 1857 and 1880 maps as “J. Hoxie.” In 1904 it passed to Lucy Hoxie (1843-1909) and in 1909 was sold to Samuel and Hannah Jillson. Sam worked at the East Sandwich Fish Hatchery right across the road. There is a pond in back where it is said that Daniel Webster, Grover Cleveland and Joseph Jefferson liked to fish.


I am deeply appreciative of local historian John Nye Cullity who spent time answering all my questions and correcting all my errors. Please note this is a work in progress and more will be added (and amended) as time permits.

Sources Consulted

“Cedarville Gem,” Jan., Feb., Mar., 1848, Percy F. Rex Collection, Sturgis Library, MS. 10
Cross, Timothy A., Sandwich Historical Commission, Massachusetts Historical Commission Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) Form B, 4/7/1972
Cullity, John and Rosanna, A Sandwich Album, The Nye Family of America Association, 1987
Deyo, Simeon L.., History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890
Fawcett, Marise, Nye Homestead
Lovell, Russell. Sandwich. A Cape Cod Town. Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center. William

S. Sullwold Publishing, Inc. Taunton, Mass. 1984.

Massachusetts Historical Commission Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS)

SDW.O: Old County Road Area

SDW.R: Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District

Massachusetts Marriages, 1633-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
Nye Family Association booklet: “The Benjamin Nye Homestead;” website:
Nye Family Newsletter, No. 68, 2010
Sandwich Broadsider, 9/23/1987
Seventh Census of the United States, 1850
Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center. Nye Family Records; Historic Asset Files
Town of Sandwich Tax Records, 1790-1839

Bird’s Eye View – The 1884 Poole Map

1884 Bird's Eye View by Poole
1884 Bird’s Eye View by Poole (Click for Larger View)
  • 4 – Sandwich Card & Tag Co.
  • 5 – G. Howland’s Lumber Yard
  • 6 – Town Hall
  • 7 – Sandwich Casino
  • 8 – High School
  • 10 – Sandwich Academy
  • 14 – Novelty Block
  • 15 – Central House
  • 16 – Post Office
  • 18 – Congregational Church
  • 19 – Unitarian Church
  • 20 – Methodist Church
  • 22 – Cemetery

Download Map of Entire Area


Town Hall Through the Years

(Compiled by Don Bayley)

Wood Engraving, John Warner Barber, 1839
From “Historical Collections” by John Warner Barber, Worcester, 1839, p.53.

In this John Warner Barber drawing from 1839, Town Hall, built in 1834, is prominently displayed. From Sandwich historian Russell Lovell: “This is the only view found showing the early Calvinistic chapel on the site of the present First Church of Christ (the ‘Elvis’ Church). The smaller buildings in the left foreground are a blacksmith shop, the building that was moved to become (part of) the glass museum and lastly the shop that became the Fred Bunker museum (now gone). At left rear is the Unitarian Church with the Titus Winchester clock and in the distance the two stacks of the Glass Factory casting their prosperous pall of black smoke.”

At its 1834 Town Meeting, pursuant to a constitutional amendment in 1833 requiring formal separation of church and state, the town voted to erect a new Town Hall. The First Parish Meetinghouse (and earlier meetinghouses) at the corner of Main and River Streets had served as the religious and political center of Sandwich almost since the founding of the village in 1639.

The new Town Hall building was to be at the northern end of Lower Shawme Lake at the intersection of Main and Grove Streets on bog land donated by the Newcomb family at 8 Grove Street. Construction was preceded by extensive filling of the marshy land with gravel.

The large structure, built by Ellis Howland, included an upper hall capable of seating 500 people. After the construction of Town Hall, the area around the grist mill and the northern end of Lower Shawme Lake, which had been called Town Square, became known as Town Hall Square. In 1914, a fouteeen-foot addition was made at the south end, to contain, among other things, a stage and dressing rooms, indicating the upper hall’s use for theatrical productions and, later, movies.

Town Hall 1870s
Town Hall in the Late 1870s
(Click photo for larger view.)
Credit: John and Rosanna Cullity, A Sandwich Album

The above is from a stereoscope card taken by Minnie Cook. Note that here Town Hall is painted in two colors. In the 1900s it was all white. Town offices and the meeting hall were upstairs. Over the years, there were various occupants in portions of the ground floor such as stores, carpenter shops, a newspaper printing office, the library and early Historical Society offices. In the foreground granite is being worked into posts. A hand pump can be seen on the site of the present-day artesian well fountain.

Read a bit more about Minnie Cook (Mary Cooke)

Note in the Minnie Cook photo there is no flag flying on top of the Town Hall. The 1889 Town Meeting (held on Saturday, March 15 at 9 AM) voted to appropriate “$25 for purchase of a flag to be flown over Town Hall.” And, sure enough, we can see the new flag (faintly) on the roof in this 1889 photo:

Decorated for the Town’s 250th Anniversary in 1889
1920 Decorated for the Tercentenary Celebration of the Landing of the Pilgrims (Credit: Sandwich Town Archives)
Decorated a few years later (note the gas light and taller trees) perhaps for a Pilgrim celebration but it can’t be the Pilgrim Tercentenary in 1920 as there is no rear addition and no SANDWICH over the words TOWN HALL. Archivist Barbara Gill’s best guess is the 275th Pilgrim Anniversary in 1895. (Credit: Sandwich Town Archives)
(Credit: Gallery Of Antiquity)

According to historian Russell Lovell the word “SANDWICH” was added above “TOWN HALL” in 1912. Thus this postcard photo must have been taken prior to 1912 as there is no “SANDWICH.” But it most likely was taken after May 30, 1911 as that was when the Civil War Soldiers’ Monument was dedicated. Note also the horse and buggy on the left. And there is a flagpole on the roof but no flag is flying. In this view, two doors in the western wall can be seen. The 1889 and 1895(?) photos show larger doors. The rear extension for a stage upstairs was added in 1914. Originally the upper level was reached by stairways in the front corners of the building accessed from the front porch outside.

c. 1940. The word “SANDWICH” can be seen. (Credit: Photographic Archives)
Town Hall 1956
1956. The door on the side is gone and so is the flagpole on the roof! (Credit: CardCow)
Town Hall 2011
Winter 2011. Now there are steps in front, the side doors are still gone and the sidewalk is elevated with a railing. The 1914 stage addition can be clearly seen in the rear. (Credit: MHC)

In 2009 the entire building was restored to its former glory. The second floor ballroom is particularly beautiful with its historically accurate stenciling of tan and brown paint and gold leaf, theatrical stage, balcony seating and fully restored historic shuttered windows. Movies and theatrical productions are again presented in the Sandwich Town Hall.

The Sandwich Town Hall was granted a Preservation Award for Rehabilitation & Restoration by the Massachusetts Historical Commission in 2011.

Town Hall 2012
2012. (Credit: Don Bayley)

Rehabilitation & Restoration

(text from the Massachusetts Historical Commission website)

Constructed in 1834, the Sandwich Town Hall was one of the first town halls built in the Commonwealth, following an amendment to Article III of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, which ensured the separation of church and state. Prior to the amendment, most town gatherings took place in meetinghouses built for both religious and civic purposes. The Greek Revival-style building has served as the seat of local government for over 176 years, and is a contributing element of the Town Hall Square National Register Historic District.

The project to rehabilitate and restore the town hall began in 2009, after several years of research and planning, and was completed in October of 2010. The first-floor corridor and office ceiling beams were preserved and remain exposed, as they have been since 1834. During the preservation of the entrance doors, it was discovered that they are the town hall’s original doors and are signed by Solomon Howland, son of the building’s master builder, Ellis Howland. The project also restored the original exterior paint colors, the 1870s stenciled ceiling of the Meeting Hall, and the 1914 Meeting Hall stage and building extension, the walls and ceiling of which had been extensively damaged over the years by water infiltration. New supporting piers and foundations replaced inadequate wood and brick piers in the cellar, where water intrusion was channeled and suppressed to mitigate a long-term, building-threatening condition. Sensitive changes for accessibility and functional use included elevating the entrance portico and installing an energy-efficient elevator, as well as installing additional restroom facilities and multi-zoned heating and air conditioning. (SOURCE:

Architect's Conception New Walkway
Architect’s Conception New Walkway

Restoration and Preservation (download PDF)

Town Hall Square Historic District (download PDF)

The Restoration

Architectural Description

Built by Ellis Howland, the two-story, Greek Revival, temple-front building is sited close to the street at the intersection of Grove and Main Streets. It rests on a cut granite and fieldstone foundation, is sheathed in wood clapboards, has corner pilasters and a wide frieze. The monumental recessed center entrance has wide channeled pilasters and two fluted Doric columns. The five-bay side elevations have tall windows with 12/12 sash on the first floor and 16/16 sash on the second. In the rear is a short full-width addition with a flat roof.
(SOURCE: National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Town Hall Square HD (2010), Sandwich (Barnstable), MA)

Sandwich Town Hall
Significance & History

Prepared by Jonathan A. Shaw,
Sandwich Historical Commission

The Sandwich Town Hall, built 1834 and located in a setting that is both appealing and unspoiled, is one of the finest and earliest Town Halls in the Commonwealth. The two massive cypress columns fronting the Town Hall, each 3 feet in
diameter and 25 feet high, are characteristic of the Greek Revival style, as are the proportions and symmetry of the entire building. This style came into use in America following the Revolution as the visible expression of the ideals of civic participation first established in Athens over 2,000 years ago. On the 200th anniversary of American Independence in 1976 the Town Hall and the Colonial and post-Colonial buildings leading to it were designated by the federal government as the Town Hall Square National Register Historic District.

Separation of Church & State

The Town Hall was one of the first Town Halls, if not the first Town Hall, constructed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts following the public approval on 11 November 1833 by the voters of the State of a referendum to ratify the separation of church and state. This was done by amending Article III of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Commonwealth. Prior to passage of the amendment the Sandwich Town Meeting met in the Congregational & Town meeting house established by the Town in about 1640 at River and Main Streets. The Sandwich Town Hall is not only an architectural symbol of the roots of democracy but also the actual historical embodiment of the separation of governmental power and religious expression.

Town House Authorized

The construction was authorized by a vote of the Sandwich Town Meeting of 17 March 1834 with the building to be two stories high and “sufficiently large to seat 500 people.” The Committee chosen worked rapidly to prepare plans for what was to be called the Town House with the second floor to be called the Town Hall. The site chosen was the meeting point of Grove, Tupper, and Main Streets and adjacent to the location of the 1638-55 water mill for grinding corn. That this choice was deliberate can be recognized by the fact that over 500 tip loads of gravel would eventually be required to stabilize the soil beside the millstream. The building was to be paid for over four years, and the entranceways to the Town Hall portion of the building were two enclosed winding stairways located under the overhang to the left and right of the first floor entrance. The first floor was to be rented to businesses at the discretion of the Selectmen.

Master Builder

Sandwich’s master carpenter & builder Ellis Howland constructed the Sandwich Town Hall. When the front doors were being restored in 2009 it was discovered for the first time that Ellis’s son had made the front doors, signing in chalk in letters six inches high and six feet long: “Solomon C. Howland 1834.”


By the end of 1834 the building was largely complete, and on 28 February 1835 it was authorized “to notify and warn the inhabitants of the Town of Sandwich qualified to vote in elections and in town affairs to meet [on 16 March 1835] at the Town Hall.” The final cost of construction was $4,138.32 and the large sum required years of payments.

First Floor Leases

Following this first meeting, the building itself is mentioned occasionally during its first 20 years in the Town Meeting records, primarily with regard to leasing the first floor. Over the years lease-holders included, among others, a dry goods store, a cooperative grocery store, a newspaper publisher, a lamp maker, and a carpentry shop. Over the years the Town Hall became a venue and incubator of civic activity, a place for celebration, and a marker of social and technological change.

Last Wolf

In July of 1847, the last wolf in Sandwich was killed by George Brailey, a teamster and wood carter for the furnaces of the Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory, then becoming one of the largest glass factories in America. The wolf was brought to the Town Hall and the body hung between the columns for exhibition. Bells were rung, and there was much rejoicing among Sandwich farmers for their loss of sheep had been great.

Steam Train

On May 26, 1848 the first steam train rolled into Sandwich; all was excitement. People gathered on the hill tops to see its arrival, some no doubt on Academy Hill overlooking the Town Hall, and Sandwich citizens remarked that the train would travel so fast that one would have to look quick in order to see it.

Unruly Boys

By 1853 the roof required shingling and the chimneys were to be taken down and rebuilt. The Town Hall had become an active community center for in that same year it was voted at a Town Meeting held in the Meeting Hall that during the many public meetings, lectures, and public amusements a constable should be present to “keep unruly boys in order.”

Sandwich Patriots

As the Civil War approached, the Fourth of July parade of 1860 became an expression of Sandwich patriotism, and the day ended with fireworks and a Military Ball at the Town Hall. The following year it was at the Town Hall that volunteers enlisted for the Union Army, and almost 60 years later those who began their journey into combat in World War I began it at the Town Hall. Commemorative plaques in the Meeting Hall for World War I and World War II record the name of every Sandwich resident who served his country in these two World Wars.

New Invention

In 1876 Sandwich celebrated the national Centennial with a concert and public singing in the Town Hall. In 1878 a public demonstration of the newly invented telephone took place with wires strung between the Town Hall and the nearby Church. Residents were startled to perceive music played in the church could be clearly heard in the Town Hall.

Town Hall in the late 1870s from a stereoscope card taken by Minnie Cook. Note that here Town Hall is painted in two colors. In the 1900s it was all white.
Town Hall in the late 1870s from a stereoscope card taken by Minnie Cook. Note that here Town Hall is painted in two colors. In the 1900s it was all white.

In 1880 along the inside wall of the second floor Meeting Hall a balcony was built to increase seating capacity. A few years later, the newly created Sandwich Public Library occupied a room on the first floor from 1892 to 1910, and this was followed by the Sandwich Historical Society that housed its collections in the same space until 1926, both leaving when they had sufficient support to establish their own buildings. By 1914 an addition fourteen feet deep to the rear of building made possible a Meeting Hall stage and opportunities for new community entertainments.

Silent Movies

In 1915 or a little later silent movies began to be shown in the Meeting Hall and a piano, an upright in the Mission style made by Jacob Doll & Sons for the Frederick Piano Company, was acquired. It was played by local residents, Minne Bunker Wimmer, Eva May Harlow, and Mary Haines Morrow, to accompany the silent movies. The projectionist turned the film by a hand-crank illuminated by a carbon-arc. A primitive generator located in a garage across the street from the Town Hall provided the electricity. Nonetheless using a carbon-arc projector was dangerous business and likely to set a building on fire. To protect the Town Hall from fire, the projectionist was provided with a urinal and required to remain continuously on duty when the carbon-arc was running. It is said that occasionally the engine of the generator would fail, the screen would dim, and boos and hisses would arise from the audience who had paid a nickel to attend.

Town Meetings

In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration provided stimulus funds for Town Hall repairs, a great benefit for hard-pressed citizens. With the construction of the Wing School on Water Street in the 1930s and the consolidation of the Town’s numerous district schools, Town meetings began to be held there. Town Hall continued as the administrative seat of government for Sandwich’s Selectmen and later the Town Staff and Town Administrator.


The Sandwich Town Hall reflects over 175 years of Sandwich’s history, government and culture as well as the larger issues of State and National life that have had an impact on the Sandwich community. The Town Hall has been in active use as the seat of Town government for every one of those 175 years. There are few towns that can make this claim.
In 2010 the Oldest Town on Cape Cod “Celebrated History & Celebrated Sandwich” with the completion of the historic preservation and restoration of the Sandwich Town Hall, the Town’s most significant structure architecturally
and historically, and a vital presence in the living history of the Town of Sandwich.


The preservation and restoration of the 1834 Sandwich Town Hall was begun in July 2009 following several years of study & planning, initially by a committee of citizens and later by a task force of town staff & citizens, and with the aid of Community Preservation funds of 3.1 million authorized by three successive Town Meetings.
Historic preservation & restoration, under the direction of a leading Massachusetts historic preservation architect, was focused on retaining the historic character-defining features of the Town Hall and specificallyon restoring:
• linear first floor corridor and rear doorway
• original Meeting Hall and 1870’s stenciled ceiling
• 1914 extension and stage
• historic exterior and original paint colors
Major adaptive changes to ensure functional use were: raising the main granite entrance-way & installation of an elevator–for the handicapped and physically challenged; reconfiguration of first floor Town administration
office spaces; installation of new/additional toilets on both floors; installation throughout of multi-zoned heating & air conditioning, and complying with all ADA and Building Code safety requirements.
Major corrective changes included: new supporting piers throughout the cellar; covering, channeling, and suppressing cellar water intrusion; and a pair of enclosed steel “summer” beams to support the second floor Meeting Hall.
October 2, 2010 Rededication – 1834 Sandwich Town Hall

Aunt Sally and the Locust Grove Asylum

Skunks and racoons on the kitchen table?

The House at 238 Route 6A Today
The House at 238 Route 6A in 2012 (photo by Don Bayley)

The house at 238 Route 6A, The Old King’s Highway, is falling down. It’s open to the weather and the rain just pours in. In a year or so, it may be gone. Sad, because so much took place here–so much that is now part of Sandwich’s rich history.

This house was built around 1770 by Peleg Nye II, a direct descendant of Benjamin Nye, one of the founders of Sandwich. Later it was occupied by the Cooke family who were double Mayflower descendants, being in straight lines of both Cooke and Conant.

Jimmy Skunk
Jimmy Skunk (courtesy Thornton Burgess Society)

In the early 1900s it was occupied by skunks, racoons and Alice, Abby and Mary Cooke. (It was also an insane asylum called Locust Grove, but more on that later).

Historian R. A. Lovell wrote that Alice, Abby and Mary “all lived in a consciously archaic fashion; they were abstemious, prohibitionist and vegetarian.” Mary (who preferred to be called Minnie) became an expert photographer; her stereopticon views of Sandwich scenes were popular in town. Her photo of Town Hall can be seen HERE.

All three ladies had a profound respect for the sacredness of life. They found it impossible to kill even rats and mice. Over time, an unusual collection of skunks, raccoons and woodchucks came to the old woodshed connected to the rear of the house and even came into the kitchen and up onto the table. Abby, Minnie and especially Alice enjoyed feeding and entertaining them.

It so happened that Alice had known the naturalist and author Thornton Waldo Burgess (1874-1965) when he was a boy in Sandwich. He worked nearby for William C. Chipman shipping water lilies from local ponds (see below). Alice was aware that the woods and pond behind her house were the genesis for Thornton’s nature stories that began to appear after 1912. She was a trustee for the new Sandwich Public Library for many years and made sure the library had a Thornton Burgess collection.

Aunt Sally's Friends In Fur

Alice called Thornton “Nephew Waldo,” told him she loved to care for all the animals that wandered into her home and would like to invite him to visit. Thornton was so taken with what he saw that he spent many days there taking photos and movies of the animals. In his autobiography he wrote, “One memorable night twenty-two coons were crowded together in the little woodhouse as they squabbled over the food pans.” Later Burgess wrote about it all in a book he called “Aunt Sally’s Friends in Fur.” (Thornton came up with the name “Aunt Sally” to protect Miss Cooke’s privacy and to keep hunters and trappers away from her house which was beside what was then the main highway down the Cape.)

Burgess went on to introduce the story of the “animal nightclub,” the woodshed and Aunt Sally in his newspaper column and to thousands via the Radio Nature League carried over numerous radio stations including WBZ in Boston and WBZA in Springfield where Burgess lived at the time.

The Sandwich Historical Society has related photographs, an oil painting and the original manuscript of the Aunt Sally book.

Alice Cooke
Alice Cooke has Polly Chuck as a Guest on her 90th Birthday. Relatives Irving Freeman and Priscilla (Freeman) Rorstrom took this photo in July, 1951. (Credit: Irving Freeman)

Besides caring for animals in her home, Alice also cared for the disabled. She entered into a formal agreement with the Massachusetts Board of Lunacy and Charity to care for three “deranged” women at her home. A state inspector later mistakenly tried to remove the women, but Alice was ably defended by town selectmen and in 1895 was formally licensed to open a mental hospital at 238 Rte 6A and keep and treat insane female patients there. She named it the Locust Grove Asylum.

The 1900 Census lists Abigail, her 2 daughters: Alice and Mary; 2 boarders and 2 servants. Alice’s occupation is listed as: “Supervisor Insane Asylum.”

The 1910 Census lists Abigail, her 2 daughters: Alice and Mary and 6 “inmates” (the word “boarders” is crossed out and “inmate” written in).

Incidentally, in this census, among the neighbors listed are artist William Dodge MacKnight and Jam Kitchen founder Ida Putnam:


In 1920, the Census reported Alice, Mary, Abigail (who was now 98) and 2 boarders. Alice was “Superintendent, Priv. Sanitarium.”

In 1930 it’s just Alice, Mary and 1 private servant. (Their mother lived to be 100: born in 1822, she died in 1922.) There’s no longer any mention of an asylum or sanitarium.

Mary (AKA Minnie), born in 1854, died in 1932 causing a deep sense of loss and grief to her sister. On a sudden impulse Alice burned Minnie’s papers and many of her photos in a tragic farewell salute.

Alice kept up the animal nightclub until 1947. She died in 1956 and left much of her property to the Cahoons, who had helped supply food for the animals. The Cookes are all buried in the Cedarville Cemetery at Route 6A and Ploughed Neck Road.

Country Mouse 1972
Country Mouse 1972 (courtesy MACRIS)

In the 1970s the property was owned by Capt. Colin H. Bell and was used as a furniture refinishing business called “The Country Mouse.” Today the rains pour in and we may soon lose the place where fascinating chapters of Sandwich’s history were created.

(Click photos for a larger view.)
The House at 238 Route 6A in 2012
The House at 238 Route 6A in 2012, Another View (photo by Don Bayley)

A Bit More About Thornton Burgess

Born in Sandwich in 1874, Thornton Waldo Burgess was the son of Caroline F. Haywood and Thornton W. Burgess Sr., a direct descendant of Thomas Burgess, one of the first Sandwich settlers in 1637. Thornton W. Burgess, Sr., died the same year his son was born, and the young Thornton Burgess was brought up by his mother in Sandwich. They both lived in humble circumstances with relatives or paying rent.

As a youth, Thornton worked year round in order to help support himself and his mother. Some of his jobs included tending cows at Town Neck; delivering milk; picking and selling dandelion greens, arbutus, beach plums, wild grapes and blueberries; selling candy made by his mother and trapping muskrats. He also picked cranberries in September; school did not open until October in Sandwich to allow whole families to take part in cranberrying.

Burgess also worked for William C. Chipman, a pioneer grower of pink pond lilies. He had a series of small artificial ponds fed by a stream of spring water. The young Thornton would reach the lillies with a long slender pole that had a knife blade set at an angle at one end for cutting the stems. The mature buds, just ready to break open, were cut, graded, packed in sphagnum moss and shipped to florists all over the country. There was no telephone so Burgess was paid fifteen cents to take Mr. Chipman’s mail and telegrams to the post office in town. The walk, sometimes twice a day, was three miles roundtrip. Chipman lived on Discovery Hill Road, a wildlife habitat of woodland and wetland. This habitat became the setting of many stories Burgess would write referring to the Smiling Pool and the Old Briar Patch (now part of the Green Briar Nature Center).

Alice Cooke and Thornton Burgess 1930s
Alice Cooke and Thornton Burgess 1930s (Credit: Cape Cod Compass 1960)

Graduating from Sandwich High School in 1891, Burgess briefly attended a business college in Boston from 1892 to 1893, living in Somerville, Massachusetts at that time. But he disliked studying business and wanted to write. He moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he took a job as an editorial assistant at the Phelps Publishing Company. His first stories were written under the pen name W. B. Thornton.

Burgess married Nina Osborne in 1905, but she died only a year later, leaving him to raise their son alone. It is said that he began writing bedtime stories to entertain his young son, Thornton III.

Burgess remarried in 1911; his wife Francis (Fannie) had two children by a previous marriage. The couple later bought a home in Springfield, Massachusetts which became Burgess’ permanent residence in 1957. His second wife died in August 1950. Burgess returned frequently to Sandwich, which he always claimed as his birthplace and spiritual home. Many of his childhood experiences and the people he knew there (such as Alice Cooke) influenced his interest and were the impetus for his concern for wildlife.

Thornton W. Burgess
Thornton W. Burgess (courtesy Sandwich Historical Society)

Burgess wrote a syndicated daily newspaper column, “Bedtime Stories,” and he was heard often on radio. His Radio Nature League radio series began at WBZ and WBZA, then located in Springfield, in early January 1925. Burgess broadcast the program from the studio at the Hotel Kimball on Wednesday evening at 7:30pm. Praised by educators and parents, the program had listeners and members in more than 30 states at its peak

By the time he retired, Burgess had written more than 170 books and 15,000 stories for daily columns in newspapers. He died in 1965 at age 91.

For more information, read Nature’s Ambassador: The Legacy of Thornton W. Burgess, by Christie Palmer Lowrance, released in June, 2013.


Burgess, Thornton W., Now I Remember, Little, Brown and Co., 1960

Lovell, Russell, Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town, Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center. William S. Sullwold Publishing, Inc. Taunton, Mass. 1984. pp. 490-494.

Lovell, Russell, The Cape Cod Story of Thornton W Burgess, Town of Sandwich, William S. Sullwold Publishing, Inc., Taunton, Mass, 1974

Scully, Francis X., Sage of Sandwich Wrote Over 15,000 Animal Stories, Books, Bradford Era, 24 February 1977, p. 16.

Thornton W. Burgess Society website

Town of Sandwich Archives and Historical Center. Nye Family Records; Historic Asset Files

United States Federal Census 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 [database on-line]., Provo, UT

“WBZ Starts Radio Nature Association,” Christian Science Monitor, 18 February 1925, p. 9