Dear CHO Members and Friends,

The following is an article written for the March 26 issue of The Cape Cod Chronicle that provides a summary of the actions we are taking at the CHO (Orleans Historical Society) in light of the COVID-19 virus threat. We thought you should see this preview.
By Jay Stradal, CHO Board Chair

Although the Centers for Culture and History in Orleans (the CHO) are closed this winter for renovations, we have been planning our 2020 programs while adhering to federal, state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Staff and volunteers are practicing “social distancing,” sanitizing surfaces, washing hands frequently and avoiding meetings by using electronic media to keep business moving.

We recently held our March Board session via teleconference, determining how best to sustain our mission to the community in these uncertain times. As a result, some of this year’s plans and programs will continue as scheduled, others are being delayed and one has been cancelled to-date. This is subject to change if the situation warrants.

The good news is that improvements to our 1834 Meetinghouse to make it more accessible and functional are well under way, with completion expected by the end of April--ahead of schedule and on-budget. The start of our next project phase, moving and updating the Hurd Chapel, may be delayed slightly to the end of the summer but will proceed as planned with a completion date in early 2021.

Development of our new exhibition, “The Land Called Nawsett,” (an original spelling of today’s Nauset) is moving forward at a steady pace toward a Memorial Day weekend opening. The exhibition honors the Native Americans, the first European adventurers, the founding families and the early settlements of the Outer Cape in the 1600s. It will feature replicas of Pilgrim clothing, a 22-inch laser-etched model of Thomas Prence’s 1646 home, maps showing Native American and migrating Pilgrim lands, examples of everyday furniture and household items, plus actual documents from the period.

Our Board decided to continue scheduling an expanded list of history talks, guest lectures, concerts and other activities (approximately one per week), but to push the timing out to mid- summer and fall with more events held outside, weather permitting. Similarly, the start of “Talk & Tour” events aboard the CG 36500 Motor Lifeboat at Rock Harbor may be delayed until it is safe for larger groups to gather. In the interim, teleconferencing and video streaming are being explored to offer shorter programs to people sheltering at home. Check our Website, , for times and information when known.

Unfortunately, for the first time in almost a decade, we have had to cancel our June Antiques Show fundraiser. Considerable lead-time is needed to make the show a success and antiques dealers so far have been reluctant to sign up for any events this year. We intend to have a bigger and better show in 2021.

Finally, our members and friends will be hearing from us soon about membership renewals, and opportunities to donate to our Exhibition and other projects. We are grateful for their strong support that has helped us bring Orleans culture and history to life, and we hope their generosity will continue during these tough times. When the COVID-19 virus threat is over, we will be ready to launch an exciting array of activities that all residents and visitors can enjoy during this 400 th anniversary year of the Pilgrim landing. Meanwhile, please stay safe and healthy!