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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sandwich, MA B&B Steeped in Sandwich History

History Series - Part I

To celebrate the 260th anniversary of the home that is now our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, we are sharing its long and wonderful history. The story of our Inn, and the families that built it in 1750 and have owned over the last 260 years, is intricately interwoven with the history of Sandwich Massachusetts. If you love American history, you will love Sandwich which, settled in 1637 and incorporated in 1639, is the oldest town on Cape Cod. I joke with my guest that it took the first settlers seventeen years to travel the eighteen miles from Plimoth Plantation where English Colonists landed in 1620. Today, it is just a 15-minute trip along state highway Route 3 from what is now Plymouth, MA to what is now Sandwich, MA.

In 1637, this was a very attractive area because of its salt marshes, fresh water streams, forests, and access to the Cape Cod Bay shipping waters. Early settlers soon were drawn to the area immediately across the street from our house, which is at the bottom of what is now known as lower Shawme Pond. Long before the English arrived, the native Indians  hunted the area and fished the fresh water Shawme River that started in a red cedar bog in what is now upper Shawme Pond and flowed through the marshes to Cape Cod Bay. As the town developed around our neighborhood, it became the center of commerce and trade and was known as Sandwich Village.

A group of founding settlers, known as the “10 men from Saugus,” was given a charter to start the new town of Sandwich by the controlling Plymouth Colony. The group was lead by Edmond Freeman and included Henry Feake, Thomas Dexter, Edward Dillingham, Richard Chadwell, William Almey, Thomas Tupper, and George Kent. Others from Plymouth and Duxbury who were looking for new opportunities quickly joined this first group, including William Bassett, Jr., Richard Bourne, and Thomas Burgess.

In the 1630’s, these men and their families defined the future of Sandwich, and their names still are prominent on the historical sites in Sandwich. Guests at our Sandwich Bed and Breakfast walk the Sandwich Heritage Trail that includes the Dexter Grist Mill, built by Thomas Dexter between 1640 and 1646. These industrious men harnessed the river and built this mill that still grinds corn 370 years later, just as it did for the founding families. Jan makes a guest favorite roasted corn/rosemary, cornmeal muffin made with ground cornmeal from across the street at the Grist Mill. Guests love to take home a bag of cornmeal and recipe booklet as a souvenir of their stay in Sandwich. Just past the Grist Mill is the Thornton W. Burgess Museum, the childhood home of the renowned children’s author, naturalist, and descendent of the above Thomas Burgess. A little further up the road is the Dillingham House built by Edward Dillingham and reported to be haunted by ghosts of these founding fathers and others.

Our house was built in 1750 by a descendent of William Bassett from these founding families. Next week we’ll talk more about our house and the families that have owned it over the last 260 years. Our house and the town of Sandwich have retained their sense of history and, for that reason, are a great place to visit any time of the year. To celebrate our 260th anniversary, we invite you to join us.  Our Specials and Holiday Packages are available on our website.

Charlie Preus, Assistant Innkeeper and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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