Eastham Historical Society
P.O. Box 8
Eastham MA 02642
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Eastham Historical Society
Preserving Easthamís Past for
More Than 50 Years
Progress is being made on the major restoration of the Swift-Daley House.
But it's a slow and exacting process.
EASTHAM is one of the oldest towns in the Commonwealth. It was settled in 1644 by Pilgrims who had been dissatisfied with the poor soil and small land grants accorded them in the Colony of Plymouth. Three 'Old Comers' or passengers on the Mayflower, now buried in the Cove Burying Ground, were among its earliest families. Before Eastham became an established town in 1651, it had been part of the Nauset Indian Territory. Founded in 1963 to preserve that long and varied history and its artifacts, the Eastham Historical Society acquired historically important collections through the generosity of Eastham residents and visitors. These collections are housed in three museums; see individual museums for hours of operation.
THE SCHOOLHOUSE MUSEUM is located on Nauset Road across from the National Seashore Visitor Center. It is housed in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1869. The original and remaining one of the three schoolhouses consolidated on that site in 1906, it served the town until 1936 when its last pupils moved to a newer building. The old building stood abandoned (far right) until 1963 when the newly-formed Eastham Historical Society looked about for a place to house the town's historical treasures. The school building, then well on its way to decrepitude, was purchased, restored, and became a museum. (right)
A large pair of whale jawbones formerly framed the gateway to the museum, but deterioration forced their removal a few years ago. With considerable difficulty, a replacement pair is being sought. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2008 a new museum addition was opened. (right). The museum displays objects from the various facets of the town's history including farming, shipwrecks, the Life Saving Service, Native American artifacts, the school and daily life in town. The schoolroom, now a children's "hands on" museum complete with its original schoolmaster's desk, is furnished to replicate how it looked in earlier days. (below) Children of all ages are encouraged to sit at the desks, look at the books and "play school."
Thursday, July 4th: 1-4 p.m.
July and August: Tuesday, Wednesday 1 - 4 p.m.; Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Labor Day and Columbus Day Weekends: Sat. and Sun. 1 - 4 p.m.
Windmill Weekend: Saturday, Sept. 7, 1 - 4 p.m.
Admission is free, but donations are much appreciated.
(Closed temporarily due to 2013 major reconstruction at the Swift-Daley House. Check back next season for further details)
THE SWIFT-DALEY HOUSE is located on Route 6 next to the Eastham Post Office. Built in 1741 by Joshua Knowles, its bowed roof is typical of early houses built by ship's carpenters. The wide board floors, deep kitchen fireplace and narrow stairways are other features of 18th century houses. The entire house is furnished with articles ranging from Colonial to Victorian, reflecting the long period when the house was home to many generations.
In 1859 the house was occupied by Nathaniel Swift, who with his brother Gustavus of North Eastham, soon moved to Chicago and founded the Swift meat packing empire. The second part of its present name comes from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Daley who purchased the house in 1939 and restored it to its original condition. Mrs. Daley generously donated the house to the Eastham Historical Society in 1974.
The house is completely furnished; its collections include examples of period furniture, clothing, china and quilts. Open during July and August Monday - Friday from 10 a.m. to 1.p.m.
Open Saturday (Sept. 10) on Windmill Weekend from 10a.m. - 2p.m.
The Swift-Daley House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
At left, the Swift-Daley House circa 1917. Sketch by Jim Owens
THE OLDE SHOP
Set behind the Swift-Daley House, the gift shop is filled with fascinating treasures from antiques to hand-crafted items from local artisans. Hours are the same as the Swift-Daley House. (Closed temporarily due to 2013 major renovations at the Swift-Daley Museum. Check back for further details)
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