Category Archives: News

Love Letter to Cape Cod

Love Letter to Cape Cod

The Sandwich Historical Commission is pleased to present this stirring new documentary and give the public the chance to meet the producer, John Yacobian, and the founder of Protect Our Past (POP), Ellen Briggs.
The mission of POP is to educate and influence Cape residents, part-time residents and visitors about the importance of saving the historic fabric of this peninsula.
This event is free of charge and no reservations are required. It will be held upstairs at the Sandwich Town Hall, located at 130 Main Street. Built in 1834, Sandwich Town Hall was restored to its former glory in 2009 by the Town Hall Preservation Trust. The beautiful second floor ballroom and theater once presented silent films accompanied by a piano played by a Town citizen.
Check out the trailer:
Read more about what Protect Our Past is doing to preserve the history of this special place we call home.

Our Own Bill Daley Announces Departure

Longtime Sandwich Historical Commission member and history lover William Daley has stepped down after volunteering in town over the last 18 years.  READ MORE

Bill’s Background & Comments on the Sandwich Glass Factory





Brady Island
Timothy Ruggles – The Rise and Fall of a Massachusetts Loyalist

Joseph Wilson

How well do you know Sandwich?

The Acorn

A Very Special Memorial Day

Sandwich & The Civil War

Civil War Memorial Wall Plaque

A Christmas Night Murder in 1857

Brady Island


How well do you know Sandwich?

Cpt Abraham Hoxie House

Here is an interesting home with a very interesting story.

This home was built for Captain Abraham Hoxie (1808-1888) who was the best known whaling captain in Sandwich. He commanded more than a dozen different vessels and retired to Spectacle Pond in South Sandwich in 1853 at age 45 where this home was originally located.

Apparently he wanted to be closer to town and just a few years later bought the famous salt box home on Water Street which we now know as the Hoxie House museum.
What did he do with this Gothic Revival house? He sold it and here is where it gets very interesting.

After acquiring it, the new owner had it moved to Cross Street to reap the financial rewards of being near the glass factory. He hired well known house builder and house mover Gustavus Howland to relocate it. Historian Russell Lovell described it this way:
“The house was two stories high with foundation 27×36 feet and could not be knocked apart for moving. Howland assembled 30 yoke of oxen and put this large house on a set of wheels, beginning the torturous task of moving this train (about 300 feet long) down narrow twisting streets with large trees on both sides from South Sandwich down to the village. It took three long days of noise and re-rigging and adjustments, but the house came intact to its final destination at 4 Cross Street where it can be seen today.”

Captain Hoxie was a unique character and was well know for firing off his saluting cannon from his salt box home after each Northern victory during the American Civil War.

–researched and written by Bill Daley


Historical Preservation Awards

The Sandwich Historical Commission held an awards ceremony this Spring to honor the preservation of a number of historic homes and buildings. Member William Daley hosted the event at Oak Crest Cove.

Award recipients were:


Janet Chakarian,  44 Water St

Delphi Construction (Sand Hill Community Center 16 Dewey Ave)


Chris & Cassie Dougherty (168 Main Street)

Brenda Kelly & Jeffrey McCarthy (6 Grove Street)

Steve Ottani Of Half Cape Construction (4 School Street)


Bill & Joanne Richardson (76 Main Street)

congrats to all!!

Walking Tours

As an escape from all the bad news these days the Historical Comission is designing a virtual Walking Tour of Sandwich. There is an app for this called PocketSights that you can load on your phone. Here’s what we have so far:

For information on walking tours held by the Historical Commission and the Sandwich Glass Museum click the link below:


Plaques help mark Sandwich history


By Paul Gately
Posted Sep 7, 2018 at 10:57 AM

The Sandwich Historical Commission’s historic marker/plaque program has
reached the 154 mark, and more awards are on the way in a town where
many homes are much older than 100 years.

Commission member William Daley rides herd on efforts to recognize and
designate homes a century old or more in all sections of town, something that
helps tell Sandwich’s veritable way-we-were story that dates to the 1600s.
The house markers are distinctive, with a white background with dark green
lettering, crafted by Doug Amidon.

Daley said that only once has a homeowner objected to plaque placement or
otherwise recognizing something historic about their property.

“Markers don’t restrict home ownership,” Daley said. “They just recognize
that you’re living in a house with a history and that it’s a wonderful thing to
have. Most owners are pleasantly surprised about their property and what
owners previously lived there, perhaps glass factory workers or stagecoach

“Some are amazed the original owners had numerous kids in a small Cape Cod
house,” he added.

The oldest property recognized to date is the John Ellis House at 76 Main
Street. The William Freeman House circa 1690 at 432 Route 6A is also listed
as a historic property, complete with a plaque.

Daley in his background research about Sandwich homes has not uncovered
any of local history’s mysteries. But he has “discovered curious things.”

One story, he said, involves an Irishman who moved to Sandwich, worked in
the glass factory, joined the Union Army during the Civil War, was promoted
to lieutenant, and was later killed. His family left Sandwich.

Daley encourages townspeople who live in homes at least 100 years old to
consider the plaque program. If interested, they should contact him at
wfdaley[at] or visit
Download a one-page application form

Daley will check property records at the Sandwich Archives and the
Barnstable County Registry of Deeds to confirm background details. The
application will be brought to the full historical commission, which will vote
on whether or not to accept the paperwork.

The homeowner will then be informed of the approval, and Amidon will
create the marker. There is an $80 charge.

The historic markers program should not be confused with historical
commission discussions about establishing a preservation awards program.
That is a separate undertaking still in a discussion phase.

Saving Graves

The Historical Commission's Jennifer Madden inspects a headstone at Cedarville Cemetery (CREDIT: Karen B Hunter -Enterprise
The Historical Commission’s Jennifer Madden inspects a headstone at Cedarville Cemetery
(CREDIT: Karen B Hunter – Enterprise)

By TAO WOOLFE Sandwich Enterprise, Oct 27, 2016

Decrepitude has seeped into Cedarville Cemetery—cracking and toppling ancient tombstones and beshadowing family markers with creeping foliage.

But rest easy, old souls, help is on the way.

About $70,000 has been set aside to restore dozens of graves at the East Sandwich site, and to shore up a Wing family tomb that has shifted as surrounding earth has frozen and thawed. An invitation to bid on the repair work is expected to be issued before the snow flies.

The Wing tomb is its most prominent burial site, but the shady cemetery, at Route 6A and Ploughed Neck Road, also holds the remains of other early families including the Nyes, Tuppers, Jillsons, Atkinses, Woods and Freemans.

“It is not the oldest or largest of the town’s ancient cemeteries, but it is quite significant,” said Jennifer Y. Madden, a member of the Sandwich Historical Commission who has donated countless hours of work to the restoration efforts of the town’s oldest graveyards.

In its appeal to the Community Preservation Commission for restoration money, the Historical Commission said Cedarville is among the cemeteries frequented each year by scores of people seeking their early roots in Sandwich, one of the oldest towns in the nation.

Although the graves in older, Old Town Burying Grounds in Sandwich Village date back to the 1600s, Cedarville is no pup. The cemetery’s oldest grave dates back to 1805, when Lewis and Clark were clambering up the Rockies and Napoleon had laid siege to Europe.

“Since so many of the departed in that place represent many of the ancestors of current residents, it seemed only right to honor those deceased before further deterioration causes elements of this burial place impossible to save,” said the historical commission’s application, which was penned by Ms. Madden.

The commission had hopes to restore “dozens of graves,” during this project. More work could be done later, Ms. Madden said.

On a recent tour of the cemetery, Ms. Madden, accompanied by historian Kaethe O. Maguire and Jill Jillson, showed how old slate tombstones had cracked and fallen over. The relatively fragile stone was the prevailing fashion more than 150 years ago. Marble, and then granite, became the rage later and all three materials had to be imported from off-Cape, Ms. Madden said.

In some cases, Cedarville’s toppled slate stones were cemented where they lay in an effort to preserve them.

Restorers will reset and glue broken gravestones, but will probably not include freeing and resetting the cemented stones.

The Wing family’s mound tomb, which contains many members of the family, including Henry T. Wing for whom the former school building is named, will require extensive work on its seams, which are leaking.

No plots are available for sale in the cemetery, which is owned by the town. But the newly deceased continue to be buried in the cemetery in previously purchased plots.

The Wings have donated to the cause, and the Sandwich Cemetery Commissioners have allocated $15,000 to the effort. Voters at Town Meeting in May approved the bulk of the restoration money from preservation funds. A few years ago voters approved money to create a master plan, including a digital map of the cemetery.

A curator at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Ms. Madden said she has loved cemeteries since she was a child. She spent summers in rural Pennsylvania with her grandparents and often explored a neighboring historic graveyard.

Ms. Madden moved to Sandwich about 23 years ago. When she joined the historical commission about nine years ago, her fellow members encouraged her to translate her interest into action.

“The Sandwích Historical Commission’s mission is to protect historical assets, and each member has a unique project,” Ms. Madden said. “This one is mine because I love this work.”


Sandwich Historical Commission reaffirms stance: Save 1927 Wing

By Paul Gately
The Sandwich Historical Commission is not backing away from its strong stand taken in November 2015 that the town should make every effort to try and save the 1927 building from the wrecking ball at the Wing School complex along Water Street.

The commission — in an Oct. 26 letter to selectmen and Town Manager Bud Dunham — reaffirmed its stand on Wing and the building’s “historical significance to the town.”


Wing School Update


By Paul Gately

July 07. 2016 12:58PM

Sandwich Historical Commission reiterates historic merit of ‘1927 Wing’

The Sandwich Historical Commission takes issue with sentiment expressed by some selectmen that the 1927 section of the Henry T. Wing School might not be worth preserving and instead probably should be torn down.

Commission members July 6 reiterated their support for selectmen opting to — at the very least — sell the old Sandwich High School to a suitable developer, who would preserve the distinctive redbrick exterior at Water Street.

(from the Postcard Collection at the Sandwich Town Archives)

Commission member William Daley, after learning about some selectmen’s views, sent a message to the Wing Family of America group asking for moral support in any upcoming effort to save Wing.

Daley contests some sentiment by selectmen that the old high school might not be duly delineated as “historical.”

“Just the exterior is what we’re interested in and whatever a developer may want to do in there,” Daley said.

Commission chairman Gregory Anderson said the overall “what to do with Wing” issue is “sexy. It’s what everyone’s talking about. I think we should be able to put some effort into something we feel very strongly about.

“It would be a shame if all of this is simply rolled up into a demolition party,” Anderson said.

Commission members also remain disenchanted by a Town Hall decision last year to leave them out of a Wing-review effort in the first place and by the point that they were rebuffed shortly afterward when they sought to be added to the group considering options.

“But we can work to keep this key issue front and center,” Anderson said. “It’s the best we can do right now.”

Daley said it might serve the commission well for members to meet — perhaps informally — with the Sandwich Historic District Committee, the group that reviews all Old Kings Highway issues affecting property south of Route 6.

Commission members agree with the point that most residents don’t understand the distinctly separate roles of the two groups. The commission role on historical matters is advisory and one of advocacy. The district panel’s role is review and enforcement.

Daley said he doubts the district committee would ever approve a certificate of demolition for the 1927 Wing section. He said it makes some sense to discuss the Wing fate and future and the apparent willingness of some selectmen “to knock this building down.”

Selectmen, meanwhile, are considering myriad Wing options, including total complex demolition in favor of creating open space and playing fields. No decisions have been reached.

Selectmen Chairman Susan James, in this regard, promises much more community discussion about Wing even as school district administrative offices remain in the building for another scholastic year.

Owners of Canal plant to allow dig at site of solar project

CREDIT: Cape Cod Times
By George Brennan
May 18. 2016

NRG Energy is planning to build a solar farm on the site of its current plant in Sandwich, in the area at the left side of the photo. NRG has agreed to allow an archeological dig in the area, where the Freeman family once had a farm. Steve Haines/Cape Cod Times

SANDWICH — The owners of NRG Energy Canal Generating Plant will allow an archaeological dig on land once owned by one of the town’s earliest settlers.

Bourne resident Jack MacDonald had appealed an April 13 decision by the Sandwich Old King’s Highway District Committee granting a permit for a 1.5 megawatt ground-mounted solar array on the property known as the Freeman Farm. The property is located just over the town line with Bourne, adjacent to fuel tanks on NRG property.

The agreement to allow the focused dig was reached Tuesday as MacDonald was set to argue his appeal before the Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Commission.

The property is where Edmund Freeman Sr., one of the 10 men of Saugus who settled Sandwich in 1637, lived and farmed, though the site of his house is not clear from records in the town archives. A farmhouse that burned at the location in 1982 and where the dig will occur dates back to the late 1800s.

Freeman and his wife, Elizabeth, are buried in a tiny burial ground known as the Saddle & Pillion Cemetery. The site, which is preserved, is on a hill across Tupper Road from the NRG property, which can be seen through the trees.

NRG officials had given verbal assurances they would allow exploration at the site on the company’s property before last month’s vote, but MacDonald has now secured permission in writing.

“It’s a win, win, win, and throw in a couple more wins,” MacDonald said Tuesday morning.

James Wilson, an attorney for the regional commission, confirmed MacDonald had withdrawn his appeal.

“The commission is always pleased when the parties are able to settle a matter by mutual agreement,” Wilson said. “It benefits everyone involved instead of having it be controversial.”

NRG is “pleased” to be able to move forward with the project, David Gaier, a spokesman for the company, wrote in an email. At the April 13 meeting, NRG officials explained they were facing a tight window because some of the government-based incentives that make the solar project financially feasible are due to end.

“We’ve mutually agreed to several things that satisfy both parties, and allow NRG to move forward with a project that helps Massachusetts continue its leadership in renewable, clean energy,” Gaier wrote.

The company will seek permission from the Cape Cod Commission to do the survey, which is necessary because there is a conservation restriction on that portion of the land, he wrote. NRG will also make a good faith effort to name the project the “Edmund Freeman Solar Farm.”

The archaeological survey can’t be completed until after NRG receives its building permit for the solar project, according to the agreement.

With the help of Plimoth Plantation, MacDonald found David Landon, associate director of the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston, who is interested in doing the dig.

“These remaining sites are few and far between based on the development that’s gone on around the Cape and Plymouth Bay,” Landon said. “The prospect of looking there is exciting.”

Freeman not only helped to settle the Cape’s oldest town, but served as assistant governor from 1640 to 1645 under Gov. William Bradford, a tie to Plymouth that likely piqued the Plantation’s interest.

“As the living history museum of 17th-century Colonial and native New England founded with a focus on archaeology, Plimoth Plantation always takes an interest in potentially significant sites of the 1600s,” museum spokeswoman Kate Sheehan said. “While we’re not directly involved in this project, we’re looking forward to learning about the team’s findings.”

The Sandwich Old King’s Highway board was not as receptive to MacDonald. At last month’s meeting, committee member William Collins called claims that potentially significant artifacts would be plowed under, “nonsense.”

MacDonald’s interest was cultivated during his childhood growing up just over the town line in Sagamore, where his family would talk about Sandwich’s rich history and, particularly, Freeman’s links to it. When he heard about NRG’s solar project, he worried some of that history might be lost.

“We don’t know for sure if it’s the site, but it’s certainly worth taking a look,” MacDonald said.

— Follow George Brennan on Twitter: @gpb227.