2018 Annual Guide: Brewster
Brewster • East Brewster • West Brewster
Paine’s Creek Beach is known for amazing sunsets, and the famed Brewster Flats at low tide make for great shots, especially during early morning. Just don’t get caught by the incoming tide coming back! Drummer Boy Park, on Route 6A heading west toward Dennis, is home to the picturesque and historic Higgins Farm Windmill, and as a bonus enjoys a view of Cape Cod Bay.
With over 800 acres crisscrossed with sandy cart paths and trails, the Punkhorn Parklands is a hidden jewel. The Eagle Point Trail rewards hikers with gorgeous views of Upper Mill Pond, and the Calf Field trails meander around smaller Calf Field Pond. Find trail maps on the town’s website.
Mom & Pops:
Historic and homey, The Brewster General Store is a great place to go for morning coffee and the newspaper any time of year. For something different, check out the Great Cape Cod Herb Shop, adjacent to Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters.
Brewster in Bloom is the quintessential spring festival in Brewster, where thousands of daffodils make a bright backdrop for the 5K Bloom Run, a Kids Fest, an arts and antiques excursion, a parade and more the first weekend in May. Come summer, catch weekly Sunday evening band concerts at the gazebo in Drummer Boy Park.
A day in the life of: Sally Gunning, author and president of the Brewster Historical Society
By Deb Boucher Stetson
For author Sally Cabot Gunning, all roads lead back to Brewster. A full-time resident of the town since 1977, she fell in love with its history in the course of researching, and wound up championing the purchase of a historic home by the Brewster Historical Society, of which she is now president.
Sitting on the porch of the renovated Elijah Cobb House on Lower Road, which is now the Brewster Historical Society Museum, Gunning recalls how her association with the historical society began.
“I was trying to write ‘The Widow’s War,’ which is set in Brewster in the 1700s,” she says, referring to her first historical novel, “and it’s sometimes hard to find things from Brewster from the 1700s, because technically the town was founded in 1803,” she says, noting Brewster was originally part of Harwich. “I went to the Brewster Historical Society to see what they had, and I was hooked.”
Becoming a regular researcher at the historical society led to greater involvement, “and next thing I knew they were asking me to join the board,” which she was happy to do.
In the course of that initial research, Gunning recalls, “I found this fantastic diary” by one Benjamin Bangs. “He turned out to be an arbiter on all the issues in town,” she says, delighting in the memory of her find. “He was such a gossip, and it was so much fun because I got all the dirt.” In the diary, he wrote about an indentured servant, and that character inspired her next historical novel, “Bound.”
Her third “Satucket Village” novel, “The Rebellion of Jane Clarke,” was published in 2010. The books became something of a tourist draw, with visitors popping into various locales asking about the old village—so the historical society launched a summertime history tour as a fundraiser.
Now in its fifth year, the tour is immensely popular. “It sells out every year,” Gunning says happily. The Satucket Village tour was such a success that the historical society launched a Sea Captains tour as well.
When the Brewster Historical Society decided to purchase the historic Elijah Cobb House, once owned by a prominent sea captain, Gunning was a natural spokesperson—and also the one to write grants that helped fund the project. She says proudly that the society raised over $1 million for the purchase and renovation of the house, including $600,000 in grants, during its ambitious campaign.
Gunning, whose mother grew up in Brewster, feels a personal connection to Brewster history. “My ancestors were the Winslows and Clarks—on either side of the mill,” she explains, noting those two families did not always see eye-to-eye. At one point, “John Adams defended Clark” after Clark accused Winslow of obstructing the flow of herring in the stream.
Following her successful trio of historical novels, Gunning wrote two more historical novels set on the mainland: “Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard” and “Monticello.” For her next novel, she is considering a Martha’s Vineyard story.
In addition to her museum work, Gunning is involved with the Brewster Ladies’ Library. “I was a volunteer there for a long time,” she notes. “They’ve been wonderful to us and to me—I do a lot of talks there.”
When she’s not talking about her books, she’s talking about the historical society, and the Cobb House, which has re-energized the historical society and brought it into the public eye. “It put the historical society on the map,” she says. More than that, she says, “My pride and joy about this project was that it was a real community project.”
Deb Boucher Stetson is the editor of Cape Cod LIFE.
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