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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sandwich, MA: Visiting American History

History Series - Part II

Old Quaker Meeting House
The immediate neighborhood where our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast is located became the hub of activity for the newly founded Town of Sandwich when Thomas Dexter built his first Grist Mill in 1637. The Grist Mill that stands today behind the Town Hall is an updated version completed in 1654. Other houses built by the earliest settlers started to appear on the newly created roads around what is now Shawme Pond, then called Mill Pond and Mill River. The Hoxie House on Water Street was built for Reverend John Smith’s family in 1640. Grove Street on the west side of Mill Pond saw Peter Newcomb build his house in 1693, at 8 Grove Street, it later become the Newcomb Tavern that played an interesting role in the Revolutionary War. Also at 10 Grove Street, Seth Pope had a house built for himself in 1699 on the lot next door to Newcomb. Another Pope relative, John Pope, also started his house in 1699 at 110 Franklin (now Tupper), less than a quarter of a mile from the site of our future Inn. Just around the bend from our site, at the corner of River and Main, the first Meeting House structure was already holding the official Sandwich Town Meetings. This first meetinghouse was replaced by the Congregational/Unitarian Church that was restored and is now a private residence on the same corner.

Old Town Cemetery
Also, the Main Street population was growing, with the Bourne house in 1711 at 138 Main Street, and a little further down the street, the Benjamin Fessenden’s “new’ home in 1729. The Fessenden house also became a Tavern with a role in the Revolutionary War. Expansions of the town naturally led to the creation of the first cemetery, the Old Town Cemetery, on Grove Street with the earliest head stones from 1683.

The house that is now our Cape Cod B&B at 118 Tupper Road (then Franklin Street) was built in 1750. Our Inn and 53 other near by properties, including all those mentioned above, is still standing today and is part of the Town Hall Historical District. This district is part of the National Register, which is a “federal listing of historic properties that are worthy of preservation because of their significance in American history, culture, archeology or architecture.” We are pleased that our house stands in this robust company. 

Early records indicated that a structure of some sort stood on our property as early as 1748. The Sandwich Historical Commission believes that Jonathan Bassett built an original “saltbox” house in about 1750. Jonathan Bassett is believed to be a descendant of William Bassett, Jr., one of the 1637 Sandwich founding settlers. The Bassett’s only daughter, Deliverance, married Elisha Hall (1747-1808) in 1768. Other records suggest that a Hall relative built the first house. All records agree that a member of the Hall family has lived in the house since the 1700's.
Newcomb Tavern c. 1693

Although I have no information about the political leanings of Elisha Hall, I like to believe he was among the Patriots. During the period leading up to the Revolutionary War, Sandwich firmly supported the Patriot cause, and in 1773 at Town Meeting passed its “seven resolutions,” which clearly put it in opposition to the King.  Elisha Hall may well have attended meetings at the Fressenden Tavern, which was known as the gathering spot for the Patriots. I hope he avoided the crowds at the Newcomb Tavern, his neighbor on Grove Street, which was frequented by the “Loyalist” who supported the King. 

We’re not sure where the Halls stood, but they were present during the Revolutionary War and prospered afterward. Come and celebrate the 260th anniversary of the house the Hall’s built and stay at our Sandwich Inn. Please see our Specials and Holiday Packages 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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