On Old King’s Highway among centennial Yarmouthport buildings such as the Edward Gorey House and Benjamin Thacher Gorham House, sits what architect Sarah Jane Porter calls “the most significant historic public structure of its period on Cape Cod.” Boston architect Samuel Thayer designed the building formerly known as the Church of the New Jerusalem in 1870, constructed by John Hinckley, with towering gothic arches, and stained glass windows. The church was originally the spiritual home to Swedenborgian Christians, (a popular denomination of its time), and was congregated for about a hundred years until the number of parishioners dwindled too low to maintain the edifice, and it fell into devastating disrepair.
In 1998 when Cape Cod community members, who wanted to see the property reinvented as a community center, organized The Yarmouth New Church Preservation Foundation, a local board of volunteer directors purchased the former church building for $1 and began the mission to breathe new life into the old bones of the building and utilize it as a community center. Sorely needed renovations continue to be primarily funded by donations, ticket sales, and the yearly contributions of the Friends of the Yarmouth New Church Preservation Foundation. Since then, the foundation has brought the building up to current fire codes and handicapped accessibility, improved water, and electrical services, and updated the sound and lighting systems.
A Great Place to Visit in Cape Cod
The carefully renovated belltower and belfry preserve the ethereal beauty and soul of the place, and the restored original stained-glass windows and frescoed walls overlook the original tracker pipe organ. Adding to its attention-drawing uniquely exquisite character are pews crafted of American Chestnut, a hardwood that became functionally extinct after a catastrophic blight in the early 20th century.
However, even with all the restorations, a new roof, and a fresh coat of paint to broadcast its readiness to be a part of the community as a whole, the building is still frequently mistaken for a church. A common misconception that was perpetuated by the old name, The New Church. On June 26, 2022, after plans were temporarily halted by the COVID19 pandemic, the building was rebranded as Thacher Hall at a dedication ceremony by the foundation and members of the Cape Cod community.
Yarmouth resident and foundation Event Manager, Victoria Krukowski, explains that while the beautiful building’s allure contains the staples, and ambiance of a gorgeous old church, it no longer holds any religious affiliations, and is the perfect venue for local artists to display galleries of their work in a place that according to her feels like taking a step back in time. Having a career background as a musician with the symphony orchestra, she appreciates how the rustic space carries soulful acoustics, and she deeply admires the historical artifacts and quirky intricacies that Thacher Hall offers a remarkable choice for private and community events.
Previous events have included Open Mic Nights, weddings, memorial services, the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, Haunted Octobers, and Christmas Strolls. Since 2020 it has been used as a community art center. Planned Events and availability can be found on the website, and they can be reached by phone at 508-744-7368, and by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thacher Hall invites you to attend a Historic 1870 Organ Demonstration and Concert at 2 pm on Sunday, August 7th, 2022, where you can learn the history of the organ, see how the organ is built, and hear it played by Dr. Mark Lawlor, of the American Guild of Organists of Cape Cod and the islands. This family-friendly event is free to attend.
Thacher Hall is located at 266 Route 6A (Main Street), in Yarmouthport.
This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.
Photo credits: Britt Skinner and William DeSousa-Mauk
Ho! Gather ‘round ye’ and I’ll tell ye a tale. Chris Schultz, his mother called ‘em when he was knee-high to a parrot. That’s the man who had an idea to batten down the hatches and bring pirate life to Cape Cod. After working for a better part of 20 years as a performer, manager, developer, agent, and director of the Florida Renaissance Festival, he began motivating businesses to run their work virtually when COVID started taking its toll. Chris started a specialized event planning company, New Latitude Event Solutions, that focused on virtual events for small non-profits and small businesses, noting that many small businesses didn’t have the tools or resources to get the job done. “I kind of jumped in to help out,” he says. As in-person events began to return, friends and family began to encourage him to go back to his roots. “So I decided to launch the Cape Pirate Festival last year with about two months to plan it.” He goes on to say “It was a frenzy. And it was a ton of fun!” To say it was a great success is an understatement. About 2000 people attended the event by the end of the first week, and Chris knew that this was the beginning of an amazing thing. It seems that he was right!
Tickets to the event will shiver your timbers with Swashbuckling Adventures offering family-friendly fun with interactive fairy tale shows, storytelling, and original music calling to our inner Vikings, Celtics, sea-battled pirates, and wenches. Respectively. Each day of the 4-day event has a unique theme inviting guests to get into character and play along for an increasingly immersive experience. Whether you’re a sea-legged old salt or young-blooded landlubber, you are invited to dress and talk like a pirate, be an ambassador representing your own otherworldly realm, or enjoy a 4 Day Season Pass and get exclusive access to after-hours scallywaggin’, VIP booty, and bragging rights. Contests and prizes will be awarded for the best costumes, photos, and more! Don’t have a costume? Avast ye! You can look in ye duffle come up with your own, or dig into your coffer to throw down a few doubloons to get yar’self the garb for the occasion. No need to pillage and plunder if you can’t find the perfect piece, as you’re sure to find last-minute costumes, jewelry, accessories, and souvenirs with an assortment of vendors that will be scattered across the grounds. So, pop on your peg leg, grab a parrot and your hearties, and join the fun!
Practice your song and dance, maties, because there’s a song around every corner. This year’s festival is packed full of local and national talent including the war pipes and drums band Cu Dubh, featuring TikTok sensation Ally the Piper, the exclusively assembled pirate-themed rock and roll band The Plankwalkers, and a locally homegrown group of Chauncey singers, the Whydah Washashores. “We have wonderful talent here on Cape,” Chris proudly exclaims. “We’ve got some of the best voices and performers on Cape Cod!”
If you’d like to splice the mainbrace at the pub, you’ll find it staffed by the Harlot Queens, who’ll be pouring and performing in a pirates-meet-coyote-ugly fashion. The 1000 Islands Pirate Society will launch a “stationary pub crawl” consisting of drinking games and traditional games, telling stories as they move from table to table interacting with the crowd. If pub life isn’t your bag, a wide variety of food will also be available from vendors at the festival.
“It’s a blast! It’s great for families. It’s great for young couples and groups of friends who want to go out. There’s a little bit of everything.”
-Chris Shultz, Founder of the Cape Cod Pirate Festival
The 2nd Annual Cape Cod Pirate Fest will occur at the YARMOUTH FAIRGROUNDS located at 669 MA-28 in West Yarmouth for “two roguish weekends” June 4th & 5th and June 11th & 12th from 10:30 am – 6:30 pm.
This event is partially funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.
This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.
April 18th through the 22nd is the official dates for Spring Break in Massachusetts public schools, meaning that in just a few short weeks households on Cape will be teeming with energetic kids and teens chomping at the bit for something fun to do, and well-caffeinated parents who may be underprepared to fill that void. Spring Break isn’t just for the littles however, we grown-ups need to unwind too! Luckily there is something for everyone just around the corner to banish the school-free boredom and maybe even (gasp!) learn something!
For the Kids
The Cape Cod Gymnastics’ mission is “to encourage and provide any child a beginning in athletics and start them on the road to a healthy and fit future.” The center offers a Vacation Week Program from Monday, April 18 to Friday, April 22. Kids ages 3.5 and up will be kept entertained and on their toes with activities such as gymnastics, ninja, games, and challenges. Register for classes online, by email at email@example.com, or by calling 508-744-7751!
The Cape Cod Natural History Museum in Brewster is providing interactive play and crafts to celebrate Earth Day during school vacation week, including daily 90 minute Guided Family Field Walks on the trails outside the museum, a daily Littles Lab, geared toward children ages 3-7. Other activities include building a butterfly house, creating a birdfeeder, and nature journal art. Have fun with Interstellar Explorations complete with your very own “Nebula Spin Art”, Moon Adventure, a hands-on science-based challenge game for small groups of (up to 8) people. Interstellar Explorations and Moon Adventure are best suited for kids ages 8 and up. The activities are free with museum admission, but space is limited so be sure to register to save your spot!
For the Grown-Ups
Ritual, a cozy metaphysical shop bursting at the seams with crystals and gems, walls full of tarot decks and new-age books, canisters of ethically sourced herbs and potions, and handmade witchy wares by local artists, is also the host to otherworldly classes and events on a regular basis, and April vacation week is no exception. Visit the events calendar on their website or visit the Facebook page and sign up to nourish your chakras with Energy Healing or get a glimpse into your soul with private psychic or tarot readings. Learn to develop your own mediumship skills or get your Reiki Attunement and Certification.
The Music Room Gallery & Wine Bar claims to combine “a wild passion for music of all genres,” and invites us to “soak in fine art, fine wines, and rare craft beers with an infusion of the creative magic that lives only with live performances.” Join an event at the West Yarmouth’s own Music Room and enjoy craft beers, craft cocktails, and wines while attending an open mike with Jason Violette & Friends, or live shows by teenaged prodigy and piano player Veronica Lewis, The Empty Pockets, and more!
For the Whole Family
Taylor-Bray Farm tucked away just off 6A in Yarmouth Port, is considered a local gem to nature lovers and families with kids, and is home to goats, donkeys, sheep, and chickens. Among the animals, you may meet is Chloe, a magnificent Scottish Highland Cow who can often be found lazing about in the pasture. A boardwalk leads into Black Flats Marsh where generations of osprey have nested on the platform 100 miles north, and then you can enjoy a short walk with the kids along the Don McIntyre Trail. The website boasts amazing recent archaeological evidence that the area has been “seasonally inhabited for as long as 10,000 years! The barn is currently under renovation, and they ask that visitors park in the area near the farmhouse to avoid the work area. There is a farm store on location offering clothing and hats, shopping bags, prints, and stickers. There are no fees at the farm but donations are greatly appreciated. Taylor-Bray Farm is located at 108 Bray Farm Road North, Yarmouth Port, MA, and is open “daily from dawn to dusk.”
Whydah Pirate Museum boasts the “largest collection of pirate artifacts recovered from a single shipwreck anywhere in the world!” Open Friday-Sunday from 11 am – 4 pm, (last admission at 3), guests are invited to survey the museum’s multiple exhibit wings and explore the “world’s first discovered pirate ship” as hundreds of thousands of patrons have since its opening its doors in 2016. This family fun event is rich with history and will captivate peg-legged parrot lovers of all ages. Make sure to check out the treasures in the gift shop, and make off with pirate booty of your own! Walk-ins are welcome, but entry tickets can be purchased in advance online or by calling the box office at 508-534-9571.
Ten Pin Eatery, located in the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, is a favorite spot for kids and adults of all ages. Open 7 days a week until midnight, it is the perfect way to spend a vacation day when the no-school honeymoon period winds down and boredom begins to take root in restless children. Choose from a riveting game of laser tag, bowling, virtual reality, escape rooms, or spend some time in the arcade. With a full-service restaurant and bar on-premises, there is something for the whole family.
This blog is funded through the Town of Yarmouth’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund.
opening with popular movies, operators of the Yarmouth Drive-In are now
launching live performances at the Route 28 venue.
Comedian Iliza Shlesinger will kick off the drive-in’s outdoor shows on July 31, followed by folk singer Livingston Taylor and other music and comedy acts during August and September. An Aug. 18 show with stand-up comedian Bert Kreischer has already sold out, and a second show was added Aug. 17. Find a full schedule on the Yarmouth Drive-in website.
The 22-acre drive-in
theater site in West Yarmouth is owned by the town and has been used for
festivals in the past. It reopened on July 12 as a pandemic-safe entertainment
facility after extensive construction by Chicago-based performing arts company
Innovation Arts and Entertainment (IAE). While operators say the first two
weeks were promising, the coming months will bring a greater variety of
“We never wanted to
stick exclusively to movies because we think that the best and the biggest
impact that we can have to support local businesses is to provide something
that’s really not being done anywhere else,” said IAE’s founder and CEO Adam
Epstein, who owns a home on Martha’s Vineyard.
Big, Bright Screens Make a Big Impact
The difference between
Yarmouth Drive-In and other outdoor movie sites is the quality of the video,
Epstein explained. IAE invested roughly $500,000 to develop the site, erecting
three high-definition LED screens, similar to the massive digital scoreboards
at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium. Sandwiched between two 1,000-square-foot
screens at the front of the venue sits a festival-sized stage, where bands will
perform while IMAG video cameras capture the action and transfer it to the
40-foot by 25-foot jumbotrons. A third big screen is located farther back to
ensure that everyone can see the performances clearly. High-definition audio is
transmitted via low-range FM radio tuned to a local frequency (105.3).
Epstein explained that
the high-definition (1080p) LED screens are bright enough for viewing in full
sun, so the drive-in is capable of hosting performances day and night. The
technology also makes for crystal-clear viewing at sunset, which isn’t possible
at places that rely on projectors and traditional screens, he said.
Red Sox, Bruins and Celtic Games
In addition to bands and comedy acts, the summer lineup features live-streamed pro sports events, including a Red Sox Opening Day Watch Party tonight, (Friday, July 24). Because Fenway Park will be empty for the long-awaited showdown with the Orioles, this will be the largest Red Sox Opening Day spectator event “in the world,” Epstein said.
Multiple screens also
permit viewing of two sporting events simultaneously, which is the plan on
Sunday, Aug. 2, when the Celtics vs. the Trailblazers will be showing on one
screen while the Bruins battle the Philadelphia Flyers on another. Audio will
be transmitted on two frequencies. The games are scheduled for 3 p.m., in full
New Shows Mean New Jobs
Live performances will
also bring more jobs to Yarmouth, Epstein said, noting that concerts require 42
employees on site, compared to the 12 to 15 staffers working at movie showings.
Pricing for live performances will be different as well, depending on the artist
and the position of each vehicle’s parking space.
The drive-in has three sections for its live performances, with higher prices for spaces closer to the stage. Livingston Taylor tickets, for instance, range from $70 to $90 per car with up to four occupants in each vehicle. Movies are general admission, priced at $30 per car with added fees for more than four people. IAE leases the property from the town, covers related expenses and pays Yarmouth a fee for each vehicle in attendance ($1 per car during July to $2 per in August and September). The company has applied for a license to operate through Oct. 31.
During the opening
weeks, attendance at movies numbered around 110 to 130 cars per show, which
Epstein said was encouraging, given that vehicles generally had two or more
occupants and that most people had already seen the second-run blockbuster
films being shown. Local traffic moved efficiently, Epstein said, with three
lanes that split into 10, permitting up to 10 ticket-takers. When shows are over,
he said, the entire place can empty out in 15 minutes.
Wide Spaces and Social Distancing
The new drive-in was designed with COVID-19 safety measures in mind, adhering to Massachusetts COVID-19 guidelines, as well as recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each parking site is 12 feet wide, which allows ample space for social distancing. Attendance is limited to 459 vehicles, and when patrons leave their cars, they are required to wear face masks. During the movies, Epstein said customers seemed to have no problems adhering to the safety guidelines, which are published on the Yarmouth Drive-In website.
Improvements to Come
In addition to live
shows, the future will bring better food and drink options, Epstein said.
Current concessions are limited to standard movie fare, popcorn, drinks and
candy, he explained. But IAE is seeking the right combination of vendors to
“develop a great food program.” The company is also applying for a license to
serve alcoholic beverages, he said.
Also in the works: a
policy that would allow patrons to sit outdoors on lawn chairs inside their
designated parking spaces. Those with pickup trucks are already allowed to sit
outdoors — albeit inside the trucks’ beds.
You can also expect to
see bigger-name acts as word spreads. “The more we do this,” Epstein said, “the
more positive experiences we provide to artists and audience, bands will say:
‘Oh, it’s not just an old-time drive-in; this is an actual concert site.’ ” he
“We want to break free
of people’s notions of what a ‘drive-in’ is,” Epstein explained, noting that he
prefers to call the venue a “drive-on” because customers drive onto the
site and have a great experience in their designated areas.
“Everything we’ve done
here is really driven toward that goal — delivering a great audience
experience,” he said. “That’s why we put the money and effort into the
high-quality screens. … We really wanted to make sure that Yarmouth had
Andy Tomolonis is a nonfiction author, travel writer and multimedia journalist.