Exhibits at the Museums on the Green
Falmouth: Changing with the Times
1730 CONANT HOUSE
There’s no better way to learn about a place and the people who lived there than by seeing what they left behind. And, like most things, what remains changes with the times. However, you’ll find that the sea trade, tourism, farming, industry, and military and civic service are the common threads in the fabric of this exhibit. A 19th century telescope and octant, a model of the Commodore Morris, a whaleship that was built in Woods Hole in 1841, and a cannonball embedded in a tree that we believe the British aboard the HMS Nimrod fired on Falmouth during the War of 1812 tell fascinating stories of the town’s past.
“Yes, everything in the exhibit has its own appeal,” says Research Manager Meg Costello. “but, I love the 20th century artifacts the most.”
There’s a 1928 gavel from the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, a 1939 jukebox which can still play records on occasion, and a lifeboat fixture from the luxury Liner Andrea Doria, which sank off Nantucket in 1956.
Meg’s favorite? The Day in the Life 1941 video. One September day, volunteers canvassed the town with movie cameras, filming people at their daily tasks. We took the two-hour silent film, and with the help of FCTV, edited it into six short segments on schools, businesses, shopping, driving and Camp Edwards.
“Some of the fun comes from trying to recognize local landmarks,” Meg says. Other points of interest: 1940s fashions, vintage cars and gas pumps, and older technology like mechanical cash registers and steam laundry equipment.
We Who Adventure Far: Falmouth Whalers Return
With its face turned to the sea, Falmouth’s history is full of whaling adventures. Whaleships departed from the deep harbor in Woods Hole on multi-year voyages that reached every corner of the globe. While past exhibits have focused on the art of hunting the giants of the deep and the profits their capture ensured, We Who Adventure Far tells a very different story through the charts, logbooks and exotic souvenirs the local mariners brought with them when they returned. Some of these treasures from the Museums Collection have not been exhibited before.
Circa 1870-The Victorian Age in Falmouth
With the arrival of rail travel to Falmouth in the 1870s, the town experienced a jump in tourism. Wealthy Bostonians and New Yorkers flooded to Cape Cod for the scenery and the fresh air. The Victorian era marks the beginnings of Falmouth’s present day role as a summer holiday destination. Featuring everything from hair crimpers to bloomers, this exhibition highlights items from the Museum’s vast Victorian collection featuring exquisite clothing, furniture, and decorative items. Come see how Cape Codders—tourists and locals alike—lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Home Front:
Falmouth During World War II, Camp Edwards
The town of Falmouth changed from a sleepy Cape town to a bustling community filled with people from all across the country. The rise of Camp Edwards changed how Cape Cod was populated and how it conducted itself. Learn more about that by clicking on the video.Watch the YouTube Video on this exhibit
Voice of the Tide: The Life and Times
of Katharine Lee Bates
Falmouth’s most famous daughter, Katharine Lee Bates, is most well known for her poem “America the Beautiful”. Through ephemera, childhood writings, photographs and more, this exhibit provides an introduction to the woman behind the poem–a spunky, passionate, patriotic intellectual. In her life as a writer, editor and teacher at Wellesley College, she carved out her own path–one that was surprising and unorthodox for a woman of her time.
Falmouth was a whaling port from 1820 to 1864. During that period, thirteen whaleships sailed from Falmouth for at least 51 voyages. Whaling dominated the town’s economy for much of the 19th century, shifting it away from a predominantly agricultural economy. This exhibition celebrates Falmouth’s whaling men and women with their souvenirs and tales of adventure & exotic places.
Falmouth Historical Society, in keeping with its mission, collects items related to the history of the Cape Cod town of Falmouth. If you would like to make a donation to the collection, please contact us at (508) 548-4857.
HMS Nimrod, Painting by E.F. Lincoln
Gift of William L. Allison
The HMS Nimrod was a British man-of-war that patrolled New England waters during the War of 1812 in an effort to limit American shipping. At the time, Falmouth had several small cannon that it used to good effect against the British. In January, 1814, the commander of the Nimrod sent a message demanding the Town surrender the cannon or risk bombardment by the mighty ship. Local lore says that Falmouth’s response was, “If you want our cannon, you can come and get them, and we will give you what’s in them first.” Regardless of the exact wording, it is clear that the town refused to give up its weapons and that the British ship retaliated. Several of Falmouth’s buildings still proudly bear the scars of the subsequent cannonball fire, including a building that is now a restaurant called “The Nimrod.” Its cannonball hole can be found in what is now the men’s room. In June of 1814, the Nimrod crew heard that some Falmouth ships were hiding in Wareham Harbor, near the head of Buzzards Bay. The British ship attacked and burned 17 ships. On the return down Buzzards Bay, the Nimrod ran aground. To avoid being caught in a vulnerable position, the captain ordered that the cannon be jettisoned overboard to lighten its load.
Falmouth Historical Society, in keeping with its mission, collects items related to the history of the Cape Cod town of Falmouth. If you would like to make a donation to the collection, please contact us at (508)548-4857.