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Monday, October 3, 2011

Heritage Museums & Gardens Newest Exhibit

As we say goodbye to the warm days of September and welcome in October, our Cape Cod bed and breakfast is still very busy and our guest are enjoying the nice fall weather. September and October are good months to visit the Cape and Islands because the weather is wonderful and the summer crowds are gone. On a recent day, while all our guests were off on their adventures for the day and before new guest checked in, I left the inn to run a few errands. At mid-day, I found myself near the Heritage Museum & Gardens and decided to stop in to see the new Tree House in the Hidden Hollow.

Heritage Museums & Gardens is a real gem located a mile up Grove Street
from our Sandwich Inn. It is over 100 acres of botanical gardens with three museums. The gardens were originally created by the Lilly family of Indianapolis, Indiana to house the collections of Josiah Kirby Lilly, Jr., the past Chairman of the Board of the Eli Lilly and Co., the international pharmaceutical firm. Today, the permanent collections and changing exhibits are housed in the three main buildings: the J. K. Lilly III Antique Automobile Museum, the American History Museum and the Art Museum. The magnificent grounds and pathways are home to thousands of Rhododendrons, daylilies, hostas, and hydrangeas. From May, starting with the world famous Dexter Rhododendrons, something is always in bloom along the manicured trails. In addition to museums, other attractions on the grounds include the Old East Windmill, a Labyrinth, a Maze, the Flume Fountain and the Hidden Hollow.

Although only a short distance from our Inn, and a must see for my guest, Jan and I seldom have time to personally explore our beautiful neighbor. I usually make it up at least once during the summer to the antique auto show. Today, I headed directly to the Hidden Hollow, which is billed as “an outdoor discovery center where children can climb stepping stumps, navigate log balance beams, construct forts, create nature-inspired art, build with blocks, dig in sand, experiment with water, make music, engage in sensory investigation with plants, and more”. I just wanted to see the new Tree House.

My fantasy of living in a tree house started with reading Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Johann David Wyass’ Swiss Family Robinson. In both classic novels, the main characters survived a shipwreck and found themselves stranded on a hostile island. As they sought protection from the elements and required a defendable position, a tree house provided the perfect refuge. Building high in the tree kept them off the damp ground and gave them a vantage point to observe enemies in time to secure and defend their home. My imagined and romanticized tree house, based on my readings, was given new depth when I visited the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland in 1960. I still found myself excited and in awe last year as we walked through the Disneyworld Magic Kingdom’s version of the Tree House in Orlando FL. 

You are never too old to enjoy a tree house. The Heritage Museums & Gardens Tree House sits in the large Oak trees above the Hidden Hollow. Built by students from the carpentry program at the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, the tree house is made of sustainable woods of ipe, locust, red cedar and mahogany. I had to restrain myself from letting out a Tarzan-like yell as I ascended the stairs to the top and surveyed Hidden Hollow from a bird’s eye view. Years after the first reading those old adventure books, I still love a tree house and I am glad that one is so near for the next time I feel the need to clime to the top of the trees and get a new/better prospective on the world.

Heritage Museums & Gardens continues to be a magical place here in the heart of Sandwich Village and a must see for guest who stay at our Sandwich Inn. See our website for the winter specials to see the Spectacle of Lights at the Gardens and enjoy the Holidays with us.   


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

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