Dear CHO members & friends,

While the CHO remains closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you can watch “IN THOSE DAYS” videos on the CHO YouTube channel Re-live local history through the eyes of many long-time local residents--past and present--in the safety of your home. Look for CHO news updates and additional video programming in future editions of this e-Newsletter. In the meantime, please stay healthy and safe!
Architect’s drawings of the renovated Hurd Chapel (left) and new location closer
to the CHO Meetinghouse (right, in background). The connecting brick plaza is
the final phase of the project scheduled for completion in 2022.
(Drawings by Architectural Design, Inc., Orleans)

For the second time in its 83-year history, the Hurd Chapel is moving. Originally perched on the highest point in the Orleans Cemetery, the chapel was sold to the Historical Society (now the Centers for Culture and History in Orleans, or the “CHO”) and moved across Main Street in the late 1970s to its present location facing School Street. Now the chapel is moving again to a more prominent and functional site on the same CHO property closer to the 1834 Meetinghouse.

Caution tape is going up around the job site, and soon heavy equipment will be brought in to lift the building, move it uphill and place it on a more solid foundation with a walk-out basement underneath. Eventually the chapel and Meetinghouse will be connected by accessible brick ramps and a plaza where CHO, public and private outdoor events can take place. The chapel will be renovated and updated into year-around space as part of the project.

The project is no small task. According to general contractor Ethan Howard of Village Green Restoration, Inc. (East Falmouth), the new basement will be excavated first. Next, hydraulic jacks will gently lift the chapel to its correct new elevation on steel beams supported by wood blocks. Then the building will be rotated 90 degrees to face River Road and moved over the new excavation site where a concrete foundation will be poured underneath to exactly match the footprint. When the cement dries, the chapel will be lowered onto the new foundation walls and the beams and blocks will be removed. 

Repairs will then be made to the roof and outside walls, and the double-door entrance and window surround will be restored. Insulation will be added, and modern electrical, HVAC, fire and alarm systems will be installed. Small interior rooms on each side of the entrance will become office and work spaces, and the larger room that pews once occupied will become meeting and research space with two bathrooms and a small food-service area. The chapel’s original wood floors, exposed ceiling beams and knotty-pine interior walls all will be preserved in the process.

The structure was built and dedicated in 1937 as a memorial chapel in accordance with the will of Flora E. Hurd to honor her parents. When Flora died in 1935, she left a plot of land and a building in which she and her sister, Emma, had lived and operated a millinery shop. Before that her father, Davis Hurd, had run a general store and livery business in the same building until his death in 1881. When the Hurd property subsequently was sold to the cemetery, it was stipulated that as much of the original building as possible, together with a bequest of $4,000, be used to build the chapel.

Completion of the Hurd Chapel project will take about six months. Most of the funding has been raised through grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Orleans Community Preservation Act and other private foundations and individual donors. However, about $400,000 is still needed to complete the connecting plaza and ramps in 2022, including brick pavers and landscaping.

To donate and/or learn more about the Hurd Chapel project, please go to [] or call the CHO at (508) 240-1329.


Governor Prence’s home in Eastham, built in 1646, survived into the age of photography some 200 years later before it crumbled to the ground. 
By 1654, the decade-old Nauset settlement had officially become Eastham and was prospering on the Outer Cape. The arable soil for crops and natural marsh grass for livestock had sustained the settlers during their tough first years. Now, with additional land cleared for farming and herds expanding, many families had more than they needed and the surplus could be sold or traded. 

Large families were typical, and when spouses died it was customary for widows or widowers to remarry quickly and create new, combined families to share the workload according to traditional male and female roles. When children became adults, land was sub-divided for them or it was traded among families for more convenient parcels. Some property was sold to others who had come to live in Eastham from outside the township.

Many founding family patriarchs had assumed additional responsibilities in local government. Edward Bangs, for example, was elected Treasurer at the first town meeting, a position he held for nearly 20 years. He and John DoaneRichard Higgins and Nicholas Snow had their turns as Eastham’s Deputy to the Plymouth Court. John Smalley and Josiah Cooke were Town Constables. Doane, Higgins and Snow were Eastham Selectmen; Snow and Smalley planned roads and bridges while serving as Surveyors of Highways.

The most notable public figure of the time was Thomas Prence. Elected Governor of Plymouth Colony in 1634 (a decade before Nauset’s founding), he was either Governor or Assistant Governor (under William Bradford) every year from then on until his death in 1673. Living in Eastham, Prence was exempt from residing in Plymouth while in office. But eventually he was induced to return there by a gift of a large farm and an annual salary of 50 pounds.

In addition to civic duties, Doane was Deacon of Eastham’s first church. Bangs and Cooke became innkeepers who were required to be licensed and “were not to suffer any to be drunk, nor to tipple, after 9 o’clock at night.”

Life in Eastham was not always harmonious. In 1669, a group including Nauset founders Higgins and Smalley left for New Jersey, either because of religious or political differences with Plymouth elders, or because land was more available further south. The move divided the Smalley family as two daughters stayed in Eastham.

The “Land Called Nawsett” is a story of courage, determination and adventure. Seven families had come to the Outer Cape from Plymouth in 1644, hoping that sustained hard work ultimately would allow them to be self-sufficient. Their venture succeeded. Today, some of their descendants are still on the Cape and, through them, the Pilgrim story continues.

This is the final article, written for the July 9 issue of The Cape Cod Chronicle, in a series of five based on “The Land Called Nawsett” exhibition being curated at The Centers for Culture and History in Orleans as part of the 400th anniversary celebration of the Mayflower landing in Provincetown and Plymouth.

Previous columns have focused on the Native Americans and early European explorers of the region, the Pilgrim migration to and from Plymouth, Nauset’s seven founding families and their daily lives. The exhibition features early maps, artwork, family trees, replicas of Pilgrim clothing, actual period furniture and household items, examples of tools and weapons, and more.

A digital tour will be available soon, and the exhibition will open at the Meetinghouse Museum when health guidelines permit. To learn more, see the tour, or review all articles in this series CLICK HERE.

Contact the CHO: 508-240-1329 -