The Beach Times

Taking the Self-Guided Captains' Mile Walking Tour
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, October 7, 2019


Captains Mile

There's a ton of history along the Old King's Highway, which stretches between Sandwich and Orleans and passes some of Cape Cod's oldest sites. Between Barnstable and Brewster, you'll come across over 200 historic sea captains' homes, many of which are being used by modern businesses.

The highest concentration of old homes sits in Yarmouthport in a 1.5-mile stretch between Willow Street and Union Street. Here, you'll find over 50 sea captains' houses, all of which are marked by a black and gold schooner plaque, which is given out by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth.

Since many of these buildings are in operation, and some are still residences, you'll have to do your viewing from the sidewalk. But a walk through the Captains' Mile is well worth your time during your Cape Cod vacation.

 

The West End

The West End of the Captains' Mile is a section between Willow Street and Thatcher Street. The first two homes that you'll encounter are located at 92 and 95 Old King's Highway. The home at 92 Old King's Highway belonged to John Eldridge, a captain who delivered mail between England and Cape Cod. He was also in charge of Union transport ships during the Civil War. Eldridge's brother, Asa, was Yarmouth's most famous captain and set a record by sailing from New York City to Liverpool in just 13 days. His home is just down the street at 100 Old King's Highway.

Captain Bangs Hallet built the other home, and Allen H. Knowles later occupied it. Hallet operated trade ships between China and India, eventually retiring on Cape Cod. Knowles transported passengers between England and Australia and was recognized by the British government for saving the crew of another ship.

Moving further down the highway, you'll encounter the homes of George Taylor, Frederick Howes, Thomas Matthews, Otis White, Paddock Thacher, and James Crocker, just to name a few. One of the largest residences in the area belonged to Josiah Gorham, who operated ships from Boston and was described as a man with exceptional tastes.

The final historic home in this area was Captain Edward Gorham's residence. Edward, brother of Josiah, delivered mail between Boston and Cape Cod. His home is on Summer Street, just around the corner from the Old King's Highway.

 

The East End

On the east side of the Captains' Mile, you'll find a higher concentration of homes, some of which you can actually go inside. In fact, the first two homes you'll encounter, Captain Bangs Hallet House and Edward Gorey House, are museums that give tours.

As the story goes, Captain Bangs Hallet House originally belonged to Allen H. Knowles. The two captains traded when Hallet retired, and this home became known as Captain Hallet House. Today, the museum includes period decor and a maritime exhibit. Edward Gorey was actually an artist, but his home-turned-museum originally belonged to Captain Edmund Hawes. The museum is dedicated to the artist, but it's still worth checking out if you want to enter an old captain's house.

We mentioned Edward and Josiah on the west end of the mile, but there were six brothers, five of whom were ship captains. The remaining three captains, Thacher, Oliver, and Joseph, all had houses on the east end of this section of the highway.

The Taylor and Matthews families are also highly represented in this part of town. For the Taylors, you'll find the houses of Freeman, Thacher, Seth, Nathaniel, Gorham, and Solomon all within this region. The Matthews are represented by George, Oliver, Issac, and Samuel. Other families with multiple members living in this region include the Thachers, Hamblins, Hawes, and Brays.

The last house that you'll encounter is at 500 Old King's Highway and belonged to Samuel Matthews Jr. Matthews would go on to become a Yarmouth Selectman and a representative in the State Legislature.

 

Check Out Some Living History

Seeing these homes, it's not hard to imagine what life might have been like in the 1800s on Cape Cod, especially for those with a little money. These homes are diverse, as well, since more successful captains might build structures in a grand style, while others have smaller, charming bungalows. You can pick up a free brochure with information on the homes, in addition to a map, at the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, which is right behind Captain Bangs Hallet House.

Whenever you're passing through Yarmouthport on your Cape Cod vacation, keep an eye out for the gold and black schooner plaques because their presence means that you're looking at history.



Captain Bangs Hallet House Captains Mile Edward Gorey Old Kings Highway Yarmouth Port

The Top 5 Coffee Shops in Yarmouth
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Tuesday, July 30, 2019


top coffee shops in yarmouth

Vacationing in Yarmouth, Massachussets will provide you with plenty of activities throughout your stay, and you’ll quickly find yourself submerged in local life and all that it has to offer. The next step, of course, is to find out where locals are stopping for a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast, as these shops usually provide not only the best food and java but also the best value on Cape Cod. Here is a list of Yarmouth’s top five coffee shops, with each of them providing a unique quality that could make it easy for you to find your favorite Cape Cod hangout for this year’s trip.

 

1) The Optimist Cafe

At The Optimist Cafe, you'll not only discover perhaps Yarmouth's best coffee shop but will also have the chance to experience some Cape Cod history. You see, the cafe sits along The Old King's Highway in Yarmouth Port, in a historic Gothic Revival home built by Captain Frederick Howes in 1849. The building is on the National Historic Register, and still contains many original elements, including its spiral staircase, French doors, pine flooring, and massive window. If for no other reason, the antiquity makes this shop worth a visit.

As for the business itself, this is the only restaurant on the Mid-Cape to offer all-day breakfast year round. The breakfast menu is extensive, featuring everything you'd expect at a diner, including homemade waffles, pancakes, and crepes. There are also bakery items available if you're in the mood for something a little simpler. The Optimist Cafe is only open until 3:00 PM, but there is a lunch menu, or you can come for afternoon tea.

 

2) Bagels & Beyond

We'd forgive you if you drove right past Bagels & Beyond on Main Street in West Yarmouth without even noticing it. The cafe sits in an open area just west of the Antiques Center of Yarmouth and tends to blend in with its surroundings, and the coffee shop's small sign doesn't help matters. Once you're inside, however, you'll be happy that you took the time to find it.

Bagels & Beyond proudly serves New England Coffee, which you can order by the cup or the box if you need a few cups of joe to bring back to your vacation rental. The staff also makes bagels, pastries, and muffins from scratch each morning, and the cream cheese is made in-house, too. If you're in the mood for a more substantial meal, the breakfast sandwiches and burritos are sure to fill the gap.

 

3) Caffè Gelato Bertini

You'll find something a little different at Caffè Gelato Bertini, as this is an Italian-style shop with 24 flavors of gelato, six types of sorbetto, and a variety of coffee drinks. The business recently moved from Pearl Street in Hyannis to South Street in South Yarmouth, and now shares a building with Great Island Bakery, another outstanding local business.

The staff at Caffè Gelato Bertini make everything the Italian way. The owners have brought ingredients, recipes, and equipment from across the ocean to provide an authentic European experience on Cape Cod. Although they aren't open early in the morning, which might be a disappointment for some coffee lovers, you'll want to give one of their brews a try, particularly the espresso. Keep in mind that Caffè Gelato Bertini is only open from May through October.

 

4) Scapicchio's Bakery

While we’re discussing European-inspired coffee shops on Cape Cod, let’s look at Scapicchio's Bakery, an authentic Italian-style cafe offering house-made bread and pasties, and some of the Cape’s best coffee. The bakery opens at 7:00 AM every morning, except for Mondays when it's closed, making it an ideal place for the early riser to head for a quick breakfast and a cup of java.

Scapicchio's Bakery hasn’t been open for very long, but it has already built a tremendous following among locals and visitors alike, indicating that this family-run business will be around for years to come. The building is also incredibly easy to find, since it sits on Route 28 in South Yarmouth, right across the street from Skull Island at Bass River Sports World. It's a busy area, and you'll see that the bakery fills up early in the morning, but everything about this place makes it worth the wait.

 

5) Dunkin' Donuts

Yes, it’s a chain that doesn’t provide the same Cape Cod experience as other venues on this list. But, there are three Dunkin’ Donuts in South Yarmouth and two more in West Yarmouth, so pretty much everyone in town has visited a time or two, and people seem to love their coffee.

The attraction of Dunkin' Donuts is the convenience, as they have three shops on Route 28, another on East Main Street, just off Route 28, and one on Station Avenue near Yarmouth Shopping Center. All of these stores feature on-the-go mobile ordering so that you can have your coffee waiting for you upon arrival, and most have a drive-thru, as well. When you’re in a hurry, Dunkin’ Donuts in your best bet.

 

Try One or Try Them All

Since all of these coffee shops are relatively close to one another, you’d easily have time to sample each of them on your Cape Cod vacation.

Whether you’re looking for a quick cup of coffee, some baked goods, a full meal, or some ice cream, these cafes have you covered during your time in Yarmouth.



Coffee Coffee Shops Old Kings Highway Yarmouth

Historic Places to Stop on the Old King’s Highway
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 25, 2018


A must-do while on Cape Cod is to drive down Route 6A, much of which is known as the Old King's Highway, as it is full of historic attractions that will give you greater insight into life on the Cape as a whole. Along the highway, you'll come across architecture that reflects the changes the area has undergone, as there are buildings from the 1600s all the way through the 1900s.

This portion of Route 6A starts in Sandwich and runs all the way to Orleans. As you drive the highway, you'll be following the same route used by Native Americans before settlers even arrived in the United States, as it was first a trail connecting local villages and camps. The path was also used by the first European settlers, as they came to Cape Cod from Plymouth, before settling in the region and creating the still-standing society we enjoy to this day.

Of course, a lot has changed over the years, but you'll have views of the same beaches and green spaces that pilgrims saw over 375 years ago, and can even enter some of the homes built by some of Cape Cod’s first inhabitants. The Old King’s Highway is a look at living American history that you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the country.

Get Started in Sandwich

Soon after crossing the Sagamore Bridge onto Cape Cod, you’ll reach Sandwich. Here, you’ll want to make sure you get onto Route 6A, rather than Route 6, as 6A will take you through many of the Cape’s historic districts.

Sandwich is not only the oldest town on Cape Cod, having been incorporated in 1639, but is also one of the oldest centers in the entire country. To start your tour of Sandwich, you'll head south just off the Old King's Highway into the town's historic center. Here, you'll come across the Sandwich Glass Museum, known for its rare glass creations dating back to the 1880s.

The historic district also has Dexter Grist Mill, which was built in 1637 and in commercial operation until 1881. It remains one of the country's oldest water mill sites, and you can purchase cornmeal ground right there at the mill.

Just south of the mill is Hoxie House, one of the oldest houses on the Cape, having been raised in 1675. There are tours through the house’s interior, which still features period decor. If you head a little further south off 6A, you'll come to the Heritage Museums and Gardens, a structure that is home to pretty much everything you'd expect to find in an American museum, including classic cars.

As you move along the Old King's Highway, you'll quickly reach East Sandwich, an area home to the Wing Fort House, the oldest continuously-owned-by-the-same-family home in New England, having been built in 1641. You can do a tour of the house during the high season for a small fee. This area is also where the Nye Family of America Homestead stands. This homestead was constructed in 1678 and is now a museum, with each room being representative on a different era of the home's existence, right down to the period decor.

 

Continue Through Barnstable

The Old King's Highway Historic District in Barnstable runs the entire length of the city from east to west on Main Street. In that space, there are nearly 500 buildings, some of which were built as far back as the 1630s, with the newer buildings being constructed in the mid 1800s. The area as a whole was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Of particular interest in Allyn House, which dates back to the late 1600s, and Barnstable House, a structure that might be haunted. The district is also home to the Old Jail, built in 1690 and the country's oldest wooden jail. The jail now houses a museum, along with the Old Customshouse.

 

A Stop in Yarmouth Port

The great thing about Yarmouth Port is you won't have to venture off Route 6A to visit most of the town's historic sites. This part of Cape Cod was popular with sea captains, as many built large homes there and, as luck would have it, a number of these structures remain to this day.

Captain Bangs Hallet House is Cape Cod's only fully-furnished former captain's house that is open to daily visitors. The residence provides insight into how a sea captain would have lived in the 1800s, right down to furniture and decor.

Just across fro Hallet House is Winslow Crocker House, which was moved to Yarmouth from West Barnstable in 1936. The house was originally built sometime around 1780 and was a very high-end home for its time period. The building belonged to a merchant and trader, who might have been a rum runner, and today is a museum with public tours available daily.

Edward Gorey House offers a different kind of Cape Cod history because it is an art gallery and museum dedicated to the life and works of Edward Gorey. Gorey purchased the home, which was 200 years old at the time, in 1979 and it became a museum after his death in 2000.

Yarmouth New Church dates back to 1870 and is one of Cape Cod's choicest examples of Gothic architecture. The building is detailed and very similar in quality to what you'd expect to find in an old European neighborhood. It is no longer an active church but does host events throughout the year.

 

Some History in Dennis

After crossing through Yarmouth, Route 6A heads north into the heart of Dennis, where you'll find Josiah Dennis House and the West Schoolhouse occupying the same grounds. Josiah Dennis House dates back to 1736 when it was home to a local reverend. In fact, the town of Dennis is named after this man, who was a minister for 38 years in the area. Today, the home is a museum, as is the West Schoolhouse, which was moved to the land in 1973. The school was constructed between 1770 and 1775 and is the last remaining schoolhouse from that era.

The Scargo Tower isn't as old as many structures along the Old King's Highway, having been built in 1901 as a lookout, but it is free to visit and at 30 feet tall, provides panoramic views of the entire area. In fact, on a sunny day, you can see all the way to Provincetown in the north and the Sagamore Bridge to the west.

 

Drive Through Brewster

In Brewster, Route 6A runs along Main Street and is surrounded by historic sites. As you approach the town's center, you'll see Drummer Boy Park, which is home to a windmill from the 1700s, along with a blacksmith shop. Just down the road from the park is the Cape Cod Museum Of Natural History, an entity that takes a more ecological approach to the area's history.

Moving into central Brewster, you'll find Captain Elijah Cobb House. This building is the permanent home of the Brewster History Society and hosts a variety of museum artifacts while offering tours. The home was built in about 1799.

The Crosby Mansion, just north of Route 6A near Nickerson State Park, is a massive 35-room house built in 1888 by Albert Crosby, a wealthy alcohol distiller. The home, which was built around the homestead in which Crosby was raised, would become an art gallery after his death in 1906. Today, the mansion is a museum but is only accessible to the public a few times per year.

 

The End in Orleans

Finally, the Old King's Highway runs through the heart of Orleans. Here, the official name of the road changes to the Cranberry Highway, but it's still part of historic Route 6A. Just off the highway is the French Cable Station Museum, providing an in-depth look at the undersea telegraphic cables used by the United States and France during World War One.

Just north of the museum is the Jonathan Young Windmill, which is unique because all of its original parts and mechanisms remain intact, despite the fact it was moved to Hyannis in 1897 and then back to Orleans in 1983. The windmill was constructed sometime around 1720 and now sits in a small park just off Route 6A.

 

Make a Day of Route 6A

After heading through Orleans, the Old King's Highway joins with Route 6, or the Mid-Cape Highway, where it runs through Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro. Route 6A reappears in North Truro and heads through the heart of Provincetown, before coming to an end at Herring Cove Beach.

There are other historic sites to explore along Route 6, but that’s a journey for another day because if you stop at even a fraction of the museums and homes along the Old King’s Highway, you’ll quickly find it’s time to return to your vacation rental for some much-deserved relaxation.

 

 



Barnstable Brewster Dennis Old Kings Highway Orleans Route 6a Sandwich Yarmouth Yarmouth Port

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