COTUIT – LOST AND FOUND by David Churbuck, April 2014
Changes have been subtle in the village over the last 25 years, an old barn torn down one year, a new house on the same lot the next, little things that are part of progress and the cycle of change that any place can expect.
The old families are dwindling, or hiding. Names that were a part of Cotuit for centuries like Bearse, Coleman, Crocker, Hamblin, Handy , Hodges, Lovell, and Nickerson are becoming rarer as the village makes the transition from a two-season community to a year-round home for retirees, Boston commuters, and summer kids who have become year-rounders.
Who remembers the park when it was like a commune filled with hippies? Now we have great public events like the Craft Fair, and the Brush-Off auctioning off freshly painted scenes of the village.
The volunteer spirit of the Fire District – back when the fire department was an all- volunteer affair – has given way to a professional and a bit more contentious structure. The Fire Department’s whistle blew every day at noon. Any other time the number of blasts told which part of the village the fire was located, so volunteers could rush directly to the fire. Now we have a motor boat to rescue stranded sailers.
The harbor once had 50 boats in it at the height of the summer. You set and pulled your own mooring. Now two thirds of the harbor is paved with boats, the launch is doing a booming business, mooring permits are precious, and our waterways are under immense pressure. The harbor is essentially dead. Once the bay was alive with eel grass and scallops and schools of scup. Popponesset Bay developed great algal blooms, signs of the sewage we continue to pour into our sandy soil.
In contrast, Cotuit made great progress in land preservation. Mary Barton Trust saved 108 acres around Eagle Pond, and added more at the Almy Cedar Swamp, Bell Farm and Cordwood Road, now managed by Barnstable Land Trust. A golf course at Santuit Pond was stopped, and pristine woodland and bogs preserved. Cotuit Solar has been a local leader in alternative power sources.
The Fourth of July Parade is one of the most popular in town, featuring the squirting clam of EPAC Grotto of Masons, which escalated into a now forbidden water fight. Santa’s arrival at the Town Dock is an annual celebration.
The return of the ospreys celebrates the publicity that Dr. Stanley Cobb gave to the poisoning by killing mosquitoes with DDT.
The Cotuit Kettleers won the Cape championships in 1984, 1985, 2005, and 2013. Lowell Park has been renovated, with new bleachers, a two story building honoring the founder Arnold Mycock, a new snack bar and toilets.
The Cotuit Elementary School closed, but has been replaced by an active Waldorf School. The new Kettle-Ho carries on. The village grocery, the Coop, survived the invasion of a large supermarket. It gave birth to the Cotuit Center for the Arts, featuring plays and paintings by local artists. After a fire, it moved to a fine new gallery and theater on Route 28. The Cahoon Museum of American Art was established, to become one of the Cape’s most distinguished museums.
The 100th anniversary of the Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club was celebrated in 2006 by a race of more than 60 skiffs, the oldest wooden racing fleet in America
The Cotuit Oyster Company came under new management which now provides the famous Cotuit Oyster to some of the best restaurants in the US and Canada. The efforts of the shellfishing community have made clams important. A major effort to reopen Rushy Marsh to the sea was overcome by sea King Canute.
So, in the last quarter century Cotuit has lost so much, but has changed for the better.
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COTUIT – LOST AND FOUND by David Churbuck, April 2014
THE HISTORY OF THE CAHOON MUSEUM BUILDING
This handsome colonial building was built during the American Revolution. Some people thought it was early as 1775, but Harriet Ropes Cabot, former head of the Bostonian Society, and local historian, concluded that it was built in 1782, the last year of the war of Independence. So that is the date shown on the plaque outside .
The popular Georgian style house of two stories presents a formal façade to the passing travelers: a centered front entryway between two windows on each side, matched by windows on the second story. The side-gabled roof is crowned by a large brick chimney.
This is the fourth oldest house in the village of Cotuit, preceded only by the place next door (1739), the Rev. Gideon Hawley House (1758), and Alvan Friday Crocker’s home across the street (1769).
This house was built in anticipation of the wedding of Zenas Crocker the First (1761-1807) in 1790 to his neighbor Hannah Bourne, of the distinguished and wealthy family that had established the first Indian church in Mashpee. Zenas’s namesakes still live nearby: Zenas VII recently died, leaving his home on Grand Island to his son Zenas VIII. But the first Zenas was the only one with the middle name Friday, named like his eight siblings after the day of the week they were born.
Zenas’s occupation was yeoman, that is, a farmer of his own land. In addition to this house he owned the ¾ acre orchard across the street, 50 acres of woodland by the Cotuit River, land next to Fuller’s Pond, the north end of Rushy Marsh cedar swamp that became the first Nickerson “Oregen”al settlement, a third of the Rye Field, woodland and meadow on Little Neck including the salt marshes that supported profitable raising cattle for beef .
An indication of Zenas’s prosperity and education is his hosting of the first meeting to establish a library, the Second Social Library of Barnstable in 1796 .
Four years later the famous President of Yale University, Rev. Timothy Dwight (1752-1817) visited here. In his Travels in New England he tells of calling on an old family friend in Mashpee, Rev. Gideon Hawley, missionary to the Indians. “The inn at which we dined was kept by a respectable family, who entertained us with great civility and kindness.” . Historian Cabot supposed that this may have been the Zenas Crocker place, which became a popular inn 20 years later. President Dwight then tells of going to Rev. Hawley’s house, which we know to be a few hundred yards away.
After Zenas’s death in 1806 it was the home of his nephew Ezra Crocker (1775-1843), who carried on the farming as a gentleman farmer, but also worked as a blacksmith, numerouswe do not know where, though there was an active blacksmithy on the river nearby. He also was a carpenter, who headed the town committee to build the first town hall, at the corner of Race Lane and Oak Streets, where it still stands as the Veritas School .
In 1821 Ezra opened a wayside inn, on this well-traveled highway halfway between Falmouth and the shire town of Barnstable. Tradition has it that Daniel Webster, the famous statesman and Secretary of State stayed here on his visit while fishing in Mashpee. Evidence of the popularity of the inn can be seen in the hooks on the attic rafters which held leather partitions to separate the beds of overnight guests.
On Ezra’s death in 1843 we do not know if the tavern continued, but the house was inherited by his son Captain David Crocker (1802-75), who was probably at sea. His obituary gives a praiseful tribute to his character: “to his friends, he was a man loved, trusted and honored as few aare, or deserve tobe. His ever ready response to the poor and needy was so prudently practiced that none but the eye of God, ‘who notices the sparrow’s fall,’ can over know of the many acts of benevolence he has performed. From his lips and daily life have been many enduring examples of truth and morality.” David had no sons, but three daughters: Julia who died young, Ellen who was left a widow with two young children after the death of her seafaring husband Capt. William Gage in San Francisco. The surviving sister, Susan Crocker lived until 1933. “Susie”, as she was called, owned much of the idle farmland and woodland of Cotuit, and sold off small portions to the Portuguese immigrants from the Azores who turned the land into rich market gardens after 1897.
Susie had retired to city life in Somerville, and in 1922 sold the old farmhouse to Frank L. Handy, a descendant of the old Cotuit family that had built ships at Little River since 1800. Frank’s daughter Florence Handy open a tearoom in the west parlor of this house, serving drinks, cake and cookies to the passing tourists of the new automobile age when thirsty travelers stopped for refreshment on the state highway between Hyannis and Falmouth. Florence was an accomplished musician who taught piano lessons after teaching fourth and fifth grades in the Cotuit School.
In the 1920s the Handys removed the ell on the west side, and moved it to the west side of Main Street near the Santuit Post Office as a home for a widow Lovell and her numerous children. This house was later demolished.
After the Second World War Florence Handy and her father had died, and widow Alice Handy sold the old house to the artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon. Martha described its condition: “For heat, Mrs. Handy burned coal in a kitchen range and a round tin parlor stove. The bathroom and bedroom over the living room also had registers which took the chill off the rooms. Kitchen pipes would freeze in zero weather. When the wind was strong it blew up through the cracks in the floorboards and actually blew a bulge in the carpet!”. .
The artist Ralph E. Cahoon (1910-82) was native Cape Codder, born in Chatham, descendant of Scottish immigrants whose name we recognize as Calhoun. He was married in 1932 to Martha Farham (1905-99), daughter of a Swedish immigrant furniture painter, who came to the Cape in 1910. After Ralph and Martha’s wedding, in 1933 she bought the old Bennett House on west Main Street in Osterville, where they painted and showed their furniture (Barnstable deed 493/559). The move to the Crocker House in Cotuit gave them an outlet on the new highway 28.
The Cahoons’ first show on Long Island in 1953 launched a successful career, which featured Ralph’s mermaids, and Martha’s scenes of rural life as it was in Cotuit in the days of Crocker’s Tavern.
After Ralph’s death Rosemary Rapp, wife of the Cotuit physician, bought the house in 1982, with Martha continuing to live and paint in the east wing until her death, at 89. Mrs. Rapp opened the Cahoon Museum of American Art on 19 Sept. 1984, featuring the work of the Cahoons. In 1984 the house was placed on the register of National Historic Places.
National Hist. Register CTA 3.
. Barnstable Deeds, town book 5/144-5, 3 June 1800.
minutes in Sturgis Library.
1 Oct. 1800, p. 68, 1969 edition; original vol. III, letter XI, pub. 1822
Barnstable Patriot 29 Feb. 1837.
Barnstable Patriot 1 June 1875.
Cindy Nickerson, “History of the Building and Museum”, c. 2006.
HISTORY OF WIANNO GOLF CLUB HOUSE
At the corner of Sea View Avenue and West Street in Osterville is the original Wianno Club Golf House. This historic building has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its role as a meeting place of the elite of the community, and the site of golf tournaments, which attracted nationally known players. In addition, it is notable as a nearly century-old example of unusual design by a prominent Boston architect.
The 14-room house is a Colonial Revival building of two stories, with a broad hip roof, with wings set at 35-degree angles at each end. It was constructed in the winter of 1916-1917, by the leading Osterville builders Daniel Brothers, Charles and Robert Daniels.
The architect was probably Horace S. Frazer, who redesigned the old Cotocheset hotel into the current clubhouse at this time. Mr. Frazer (1862-1931), was a prominent Boston architect with the firm Chapman & Frazer. He had a summer home on Wianno Avenue.
The original golf clubhouse, or headhouse, was a one story shingled building with wings on either side of the building, a plan that survives today. In front, a long rustic porch was supported by rough-hewn red cedar posts and topped with a cross-hatched railing (see photo attached).
The construction was the result of the decision of the Wianno Yacht Club in March 1916 to expand its activities to include tennis, croquet, golf and dancing. On April 1, 1916 the Wianno Yacht Club changed its name to Wianno Club, and purchased the Cotocheset House hotel on the waterfront, with its extensive acreage across the avenue.
Nine holes of a projected 18-hole golf course were laid out by Leonard (Len) Biles, the English-born golf professional who had come to the United States in 1912 to the Sleepy Hollow Golf Club in Tarrytown, New York. Among his innovations at Wianno was his introduction of the spiny yellow gorse plant that abounds naturally on Scottish golf courses. Fortunately, it did not take hold on
The course opened in July 1916 on what are today’s holes 13 thru 18. Nine holes were added in 1920, designed by Donald Ross, who also redesigned Biles’s course. Mr. Biles went on to The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, the Holston Hills Club in Knoxville, and the course in Williamsburg, Virginia.
After the First World War the Wianno Club decided to build a new golf clubhouse where it is today, at 389 Parker Rd. Henry B. Day, founding treasurer of the club, who had the summer house across the avenue, facing Nantucket Sound, bought the original headhouse for $4500.
As agreed in the Mr. Day’s deed, the house was moved southwards on the lot, stripped of the plumbing for the new clubhouse, and rebuilt.
In 1926 Day sold it to Minnie Birk Jaeger of Chicago, a wealthy heiress to the fortune of Jacob Birk who owned one of the largest breweries in the windy city. It was probably at this time that the second floor was added and modified into popular Colonial Revival style.
The Jaeger family summered here for 36 years. In 1962 it was inherited by Margaret “Margot” Williamson Litt. Her architect husband Nathaniel Litt later became a clown with Ringling Brothers Circus, shown on the cover of Time Magazine February 20, 1970. The house has continued in the ownership of the Ellwood Fisher, Keith Merrick, Jean O’Brien and Carroll Swan families.
Published in the final number of The Barnstable Enterprise, Friday Januarry 11, 2013.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.
THE STORY OF THE FULLER FARM
Barnstable Land Trust celebrated its conservation of over 1000 acres of land this year with the purchase of the historic Fuller Farm in Marstons Mills.
The farm, one of the last working farms on Cape Cod is located on the road to West Barnstable Road (Route 149), on the west shore of Middle Pond, also known as Run Pond. Its fertile alluvial soils were probably worked by Indians before the first white settlers came to the region in the mid-1600s. The pioneers on the land were the Hamblin family, who gave their name to Hamblins Plains and Hamblins Pond.
Near the present farmhouse, to the northwest overlooking Turtle Cove, lay the homestead of Lewis Hamblin (1768-1838) and his wife–and cousin–Abigail. It must have been a big house, for they had 15 children. In later years, two of those children ended up dividing the house, the west half going to Stephen Hamblin, and the east side, including the brick oven, going to Calvin Hamblin.
The last resident of the present house, Barbara Fuller, now 91, said that about 1790 or 1800 a new house was built on the site of the present one. It became the residence of yeoman farmer Ansel B. Fuller (1808-92), a descendant of the town’s first physician, Dr. Matthew Fuller, the hot-headed surgeon general of the colonial troops in King Philip’s War, whose parents came to this country on the Mayflower. The house may have been inherited from the Hamblins by Ansel B. Fuller’s son Ansel E. Fuller (1841-1924) whose wife Olive was the daughter of Calvin Hamblin.
The Fullers converted the neighboring swamp into a productive cranberry bog, producing 90 barrels of fruit in 1903. At the peak of cranberry harvest in 1887 the old house burned down. “Ma” Olive Fuller had left her ironing hanging by the fire to check how the harvest was going, and a fresh breeze blew sparks onto the clothes. By the time she got back the fire was beyond control, and all but a few boards were burned. Today one can see scorched boards in the pantry. Lost in the cellar were 50 bushels of recently harvested potatoes. The only thing saved was Ansel’s pension papers, which he put behind the clock on the mantle.
Neighbors–the Hamblins, Joneses and Cammetts–all joined in to rebuild the house. It was redone in the popular French Empire Mansard style, with sloping roofs on the second story. This style had been introduced by the China trade heir Augustus Thorndyke Perkins’s mansion “Sandanwood” in Cotuit. According to Mrs. Fuller, “While the house was being built, the women slept in the downstairs bedrooms and the men climbed a ladder in the kitchen to go through a hatch to the upstairs to sleep in the attic until the second floor was finished and the stairs built.”
Ansel and Olive’s daughter “Carrie” Caroline Fuller Coleman (1875-1937) was only two at the time of the fire. She married John A. Coleman and served as longtime village librarian for a quarter of a century, from 1908 to 1936. Her initial salary was 50 cents a week for opening the building for one afternoon and one evening a week, including lighting a fire.
Carrie and her brothers, Calvin and Austin Fuller, inherited the house and 142 acres of pasture, cranberry bogs and woodland, and carried on farming, especially producing milk. When Calvin married in 1892 the brothers added the south wing, and shared the house in family tradition. Calvin’s daughter Ada married Loring Jones Sr. and the couple ran the Marstons Mills Market for many years. Their son “Junior Jones” took over the grocery in 1943.
Austin had three children. The oldest, Lizzie (Elizabeth Fuller) married Lorenzo Gifford Jr., son of neighbor farmer and postmistress Nora Gifford. The middle child, Orrin, became an electrician in Hyannis, and the youngest, Alfred, took over the house and farm. His collection of farm machinery next to the house attracted many offers, which were always refused. Al and his wife Barbara were active in the Cotuit Grange, and ran the farm until his death in 2002.
In 1939 Alfred sold the waterfront area along Middle Pond on the Fuller farm property to Lillian and Mark Budd. They opened Camp Alpine summer camp for Jewish children in 1939, one of the first co-ed camps in New England. Musical performances of shows such as “Oklahoma” and “Oliver” were produced by talented drama counselors, and the children were accompanied by Lillian Budd, a former concert pianist.
Even the yard of the Fuller farm is full of history. The old dairy barn and its silo fell down a few years ago, but there’s a cluster of farm buildings nearby. A neighbor thought one might be the ancient Fish House which stood by the herring run on Route 28, but local historian Barbara Hill saw a similar building that was the Barnstable County Fair ticket booth being moved to the farm, so she thinks it was that building rather than the Fish House.
In 2012 Barnstable Land Trust raised funds to place the historic farm in conservation. The state and town each contributed half a million dollars, added to an equal amount from private individuals.
Jaci Barton, the founding director of the Trust, says that the handsome Mansard roofed Fuller homestead might make a fine headquarters for the organization. If the 125 year old frame, built by loving care of Marstons Mills villagers after the fire, is sound, Barnstable Land Trust will have its first permanent home on 23 acres of rolling meadows overlooking Middle Pond.
And we might even see sheep grazing as we drive by on Route 149.
Published in the Barnstable Enterprise 30 Nov. 2012
PEACE IN COTUIT…AND THE WORLD
Op-Ed in Barnstable Enterprise 16 Nov. 2012.
The Quaker congregation known as Barnstable Friends meeting gathered Sunday for a silent meeting and vigil against war.
The occasion was Veterans Day Sunday, November 11, at the Cotuit Veterans Memorial in the Cotuit Park. They were joined by others who oppose war to express their sorrow at the deaths of so many soldiers, and the collateral damage of tens of millions of civilians who have died in our endless wars.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and this 94th anniversary of the armistice ending World War I, the ‘War to End All Wars” is the occasion to dedicate ourselves to nonviolent ways of resolving conflict.
A nurse from Santuit called attention to the long list of Cotuit veterans, many of them from families she knew, and movingly remarked how war had torn families and caused such needless suffering.
As for me, a schoolboy 80 years ago on November 11, at 11 in the morning, we would take a minute to mourn all the soldiers who had been killed in that “War to End All Wars”. As a veteran of the next big war, I still mourn all the tens of millions of victims of uncounted wars since then. Will they never end?
Veterans Day should never be a celebration of military strength and imperial prowess, but of shame for having killed so many.
War is the greatest folly of humankind. No one ever won a war. The most just wars ended the lives of young soldiers, and took collateral damage of innocent children, women, and other civilians. War is the enemy of democracy, of prosperity, and ecological sustainability.
There are effective alternatives to war, as women like Jane Addams, Bertha von Suttner, Sarojini Naidu and Eleanor Roosevelt have shown us. Mediation, conciliation, arbitration, peacekeeping, collective security, boycott, sanctions, nonviolent resistance, all work, though with risk, but at less cost than war.
Do we have the courage to give up the greatest scourge to civilization? “Lay down your arms!” said von Suttner.”
An elderly Quaker woman who came all the way from Wellfleet insisted that we each needed to urge our congressman to reduce the spending on wars. Quakers appeared ready to send the following to our representative and senators:
MINUTE ON WAR AND PEACE
It is with tears that we mourn the deaths of soldiers, freedom-fighters—babies, mothers and fathers, children, victims of endless wars,
It is with sadness that we welcome home our war-shocked veterans who take their own lives when they find a future without hope.
We live in a world of wars without end.
The longest war in the history of our nation, in a mountainous land that has never been subdued,
A seven years war of torture and destruction in the cradle of civilization,
Now a desert war of “humanitarian intervention” to save lives by killing,
And a half-war by unmanned drones that kill whole families of tribal peoples.
With all life, we suffer the pains of our precious Earth from wounds by careless missles, tanks and bombs.
We decry the wasteful destruction of finite resources that are desperately needed at home,
to house the homeless, to cure the sick, and to tutor our children in ways of peace.
We vision a world which embraces peaceful means of resolving conflict with equality and justice, where before the idea of violence is entertained, grievances are addressed with concrete steps, where conciliation, mediation, arbitration, fact-finding, adjudication, are codified international law and practices of international organizations like the United Nations.
The Society of Friends, born in the chaos of the English Civil War, has offered its testimony of peace and nonviolence.
William Penn, former warrior and statesman taught us how to meet violence:
“ We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive, or gain by Love and Information. And yet we could hurt no Man that we believe loves us. Let us then try what Love will do: For if Men did once see we Love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: And he that forgives first, wins the Lawrel. If I am even with my Enemy, the Debt is paid; but if I forgive it, I oblige him for ever. “ Fruits of Solitude 1693, pp. 542 – 547.
Penn put this truth to test, achieving peace with the Leni Lenape, Susquehannocks and the Delaware Indians, instituting what was known in Indian terminology as a “chain of friendship.”
Let us then try what a chain of friendship, try what Love will do.
Barnstable Enterprise 16 Nov. 2012
HISTORY OF THE REGATTA RESTAURANT
The Regatta is one of the oldest buildings in Cotuit, and one of the most historic. It is officially known as the Rowland Crocker House on the National Register of Historic Places. It was not only the site of Cotuit’s first store, but also the first library and first post office.
One of the Regatta’s most memorable attributes is the ancient sign over the bar advertising: WINE RUM BRANDY GIN.
Some say the structure was built in 1796, but the original deed has it built in 1809. The architecture of this building is full-blown Federal classical style, characterized by the symmetrical façade and centered entryway with a pedimented triangle above a semi-circular fan window over the front door. This style became popular during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809).
It was originally built for Rowland Thacher Crocker, Esquire (1772-1846), the eldest son of Alvan Crocker, and grandson of Ebenezer Crocker, the wealthy landlord who gave him the land. The house was built when Rowland Crocker married in 1809 to well-connected Rebecca Jenkins Bacon of Barnstable.
In 1796 Rowland had opened “The Store” in Cotuit, but where was it located if was not built until 1809? Perhaps it began in the Alvan Crocker Jr. house, built that year on the west corner of Main Street, and moved in 1809.
The earliest library for Cotuit opened in Rowland Crocker’s store in 1796. Rowland became the librarian, paid $2 a month to keep track of the books, and collect fines for books “detained” past the four to six week loan. The collection of 25 volumes included religious and moral tracts, as well as British novels, histories, geographies, political tracts, poetry, and collections of letters. At various times Rowland’s father Alvan Crocker Jr. took care of the library, again suggesting the earlier location.
The original post office of the village was opened in the store in 1821, with Rowland Crocker as postmaster. The stage coach called here, bringing mail and passengers from Sandwich, the connection to Plymouth and Boston, and going on to Marstons Mills and Osterville.
The Rowland Crockers had no children, and after their deaths the place was bought by Rowland’s sister’s grandson Deacon James Childs, Jr. (1796-1867). Mr. Childs was a prominent builder, who built the nearby Cotuit Church (no longer standing) in 1849, of which he became Deacon, the leading layman. Born in Cotuit, he had gone to Nantucket to build its famous Three Brick Houses (1837-1839), and perhaps also the Jared Coffin House, now a popular hotel. He was also involved moving the reconstructed Nantucket Congregational Church in 1834.
In 1882 the house was bought by Joseph Bettencourt Folger (1823-1911), the first Portuguese resident of Cotuit. He had come as a whaler from the Azores some time before 1853. The story is that he and two companions were put ashore on the Cape by a Nantucket whaling captain, whose name he adopted. It is unclear how he came to Cotuit, but he was found in a bog house in Newtown, where the owner William Stevens put him to work. He earned enough to buy the bogs, and become a prosperous landowner and many times Master of the Mariners Masonic Lodge. He ran a tavern in the Crocker mansion, perhaps having rented it before his purchase. It remained in the Folger family until 1947, probably leased out for various commercial purposes.
After World War II it had many uses, as a private residence, a gift shop, an art gallery of Richard Sparre (1973-1977), and the office of interior decorator Dennis Pendolari. In 1983 it became the Regatta Restaurant, under the management of Brantz Mayer Bryan Jr. (1927-2009) and his wife Wendy Wile, who ran a popular restaurant on Falmouth Harbor. The owners added a kitchen wing onto the rear.
In 2006 Brantz sold the property for a million dollars to Weldon Fizell, who continued the restaurant until 2012. On Oct. 10 2012 the building and furnishings were sold at foreclosure auction for $555,000 to Peter Menounos, the owner of Santuit Inn, half a mile west, on the Mashpee town line.
Who knows what the next use of this two hundred year old building will be?
Published in the Barnstable Enterprise 11 Oct. 2012
HYANNIS’S GUYER BARN
One of the historic gems of Hyannis is the Guyer Barn on South Street, west of Town Hall. Now known as the Hyannis Harbor Arts Center, the building is a showcase for local artists, both established and new ones, in a wide variety of artistic genres. The barn provides a community art space, a working artist studio and professional artist gallery which supports and promotes the arts. Visitors come here year round to enjoy changing art exhibits and performances, and participate in art classes and performances.
Last month the Guyer Barn was visited by ten members of the Guyer family who told of their fond memories of their childhood in the barn at the home of their grandfather, the local druggist Arthur J. Guyer, who was a prominent businessman in the village.
Arthur Guyer was also apparently an inventor of sorts. Among the memories of his grandchildren is that they marveled at a gadget Grampa built to push his horse out of the barn when the door was opened.
The barn was located behind the house built by Mr. Guyer in 1886. The house had a fine view of the bay from what was called Hallett Street (later South Street). It was next to the home of the popular steamship captain, Sidney Crowell.
Mr. Guyer had begun his pharmacy training in northern Vermont at age twenty, as clerk for the druggist Amasa O. Gates in Morrisville, Vermont, near his birthplace. The family told us the story that he joined his brother who was a grocer, floating a load of groceries down the Connecticut River. How Arthur got from the western Massachusetts to Cape Cod is unknown, but he showed up in Hyannis in 1883, at age 22, with his wife Delia.
He joined the most popular doctor in town, Dr. George Doane in the business of dispensing drugs. In June 1883 they opened the first apothecary, Hyannis Drugstore, across from the Post Office, on the southwest corner where Old Colony meets Main Street. They advertised selling patent medicines, shoulder braces, but also stationery, sponges, perfumery, hair dressing, mineral waters, horse medicine, and even Dalmatian insect powders.
A soda fountain provided the fizz for flavored drinks like Guyer’s Tonic. Doane and Guyer tried selling the business in 1889 without luck, and five years later Mr. Guyer bought Dr. Doane’s share but stayed in the building, which may have been owned by Dr. Doane.
In 1891, Arthur Guyer’s sister Josie opened up a jewelry store in the same building, selling summer goods like souvenir silver spoons, baseballs, toys and games, as well as eyeglasses and Christmas decorations. She also sold clocks and watches, which were repaired by a resident watchmaker Mr. Weber. Josie’s variety items did not hamper her brother’s promotion of novelties like valentines, bathing caps, Scot paper towels, Eastman Kodak cameras, hot water bottles, flashlights, chocolates, liquor and gasoline.
Arthur Guyer was an early bicycle enthusiast, biking 250 miles to his birthplace in Vermont, including a stretch where he travelled 150 miles in 14 hours. In 1893 he opened Guyer’s Bicycle Shop in Hyannis. When his wife Delia deserted him for the new oil fields of Pennsylvania, he divorced her, and married Hattie Thompson, daughter of a Vermont doctor.
Mr. Guyer became a prominent civic leader, a founder of the Cape Cod Telephone Company (1901) and Cape Cod Hospital (1919), president of the Rifle Association (1917) and Hyannis Board of Trade (1919), Master and 32 degree Mason, and Engineer of Hyannis Fire Department.
In 1913, the drug store moved across Main Street. After 40 years in business Mr. Guyer sold out in 1922 to his rival Mr. Megathlin, who continued the drug store under Guyer’s name. On his way to open a drug store in Vermont, his car was crushed by a Boston & Maine train, resulting in the loss of one of his lower legs. The pioneer druggist and cyclist died at his South Street home next to the barn in 1935.
Published in the Barnstable Enterprise Sept. 21, 2012