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2018 Annual Guide: Brewster

Sally Gunning Brewster

Photo by Paige Biviano

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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