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A House with History

A House with History , Winter 2016 Cape Cod Home |

Captain Elijah Cobb (courtesy of the Brewster Historical Society).

Among his many tasks, Daley oversaw the restoration of the floors, now painted in “wooden nutmeg.” The color was selected by Gunning and Aberle, as were the various wall colors, with the advice of many, including Historic New England. He also saw to the repair of the first-floor interior window shutters, which stow neatly into the sides of the frames. To protect the interior and the museum’s artifacts from UV rays, blinds were added to the windows. Another change to accommodate the present was the transformation of a bathroom and laundry room into a kitchenette for the historical society staff, who also have research and archive rooms in the rear of the upper level. Here they are always reminded of the home’s craftsmanship since the pegs and beams used in its construction are exposed, as is the original brick of the chimneys.

While the property once stretched all the way to the bay, over the years its acres were sold off. Beautifying the remaining one-and-a-half acres are flower gardens re-created using heirloom seeds and Dugan’s diary as a guide to look as they did in 1875.

When Dugan lived in the home with her mother, they took in paying guests. Among them was Cornelius Chenery, who shared Dugan’s passion for photography. Between the two, they took 400 photos of Brewster at the turn of the last century, documenting life and land. The historical society owns the original photographic glass-plate negatives, and prints of many of the photos are available. Also on the grounds is a massive anchor, found in a field in North Carolina but believed to have been made in Gloucester sometime between 1750 and 1850 and to have adorned a 1,000-ton ship.

The historical society’s museum at the Captain Elijah Cobb House opened its doors to the public in August of 2016, beginning its most recent chapter. But as with every great book, it only makes you want to go back and reread the beginning. Once you step inside this home, you venture back into the past and to the story of the illustrious Captain Cobb, whose spirit lives on. For more information, visit

Laurel Kornhiser, an English professor at Quincy College, is a former editor of Cape Cod HOME.

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