In My Footsteps
Trip 28: Centerville, Osterville, Cotuit, Mass.
February 28, 2010
Centerville, Osterville, and Cotuit are three small villages considered part of the larger town of Barnstable on the south side of Cape Cod that can easily be passed by on a trip from Falmouth to Hyannis. Taking you on a trip through Cape history and passing some of the most amazing natural sites as well these three small villages must be seen and appreciated by any traveler to this area.
Centerville was originally called Chequaquet by the Wampanoag Indians when it was purchased by Myles Standish in 1648. The village has done a good job of hanging on to its history as Main Street still feels like a walk back through the 19th Century. The best example of this is the 1856 Country Store(left) located on Main Street. It has been a general merchandise store since 1856 and still to this day sells homemade jams and jellies as well as classic penny candies that will bring you back to childhood days. The store now sells its catalog online as it has kept up with technology, but nothing beats taking a walk down Main Street and stopping into the 1856 Country Store.
For those not looking for trips through history there is the very popular and well known Craigville Beach to visit. Craigville Beach lies on the similarly named Craigville Beach Road and is bordered on the east by the smaller Covell’s Beach. It is also bordered on the north by a river flowing in from East Bay; there are many beautiful private homes along the river. The Kennedy Compound is able to be seen after a long walk on the beach, Craigville Beach is a popular starting and finishing point for many road races and marathons on the Cape and Eastern Massachusetts.
Continuing west leads you into Osterville. There are numerous summer residences here along the beautiful oceanfront and especially in the private Oyster Harbors section of Osterville. There is a drawbridge connecting Oyster Harbors(below) to the mainland but it is a gated community and thus cannot be accessed by visitors unless they are residents.
A great place that can be visited by anyone is the Osterville Historic Society Museum located on West Bay Road. On the grounds sits the Herbert Crosby Boat Shop, it still contains many of the same boat building tools originally used by Mr. Crosby and his family in the mid 19th Century. The Crosby name is most synonymously associated with the Crosby Catboat which became a hit with sailors not too long after being developed in the latter half of the 19th Century. The Crosby’s themselves built over 3,000 Catboats from 1850 to 1970. The Captain Parker House stands closest to the road and was built in 1824. It belonged to the afore mentioned Captain Parker who like many 19th Century Cape residents made his living on the seas as a fisherman.
There is also an authentic ‘jelly house’ on the grounds. These were used along road sides mostly prior to World War II to sell all sorts of delicious jams and jellies to travelers. Once gift shops began selling the same products the houses became obsolete and were sold to individuals. It is a very unique look into Olde Cape Cod when you stand before this tiny shack that now contains a play set for children. The grounds can be walked at anytime but the museum itself is open daily from mid-June to mid-September.
The third village of Barnstable to be visited was Cotuit. As with Centerville and Osterville, a trip down through the Historic District of Main Street will give you a great vision of the town’s past. Located in the same parking area along Main Street is the Freedom Hall, built in 1860. There is a marker near the road which is dedicated to the memory of those who first settled the Cotuit area in 1648. Next door is the Old Meeting House, built in 1846. It now houses the Masons.
On the opposite side of Main Street sits the Cotuit Library, built in 1874 which sits next to the Cotuit Memorial Park. There are benches giving a great view of one of the least densely populated areas of the Cape. Along the roadside sits a stone with a plaque naming all of those Cotuit residents that served in World War I and the two who died during that horrible conflict.
Directly across from the library and park is Oyster Place. This short road takes you to the town landing where the dock gives you a tremendous view of Cotuit Bay. Across the bay, almost straight south is the Col. Charles Codman Estate. Built in 1870 by John Sturgis, it is part of the National Historic Register. Col. Codman served in both World Wars and was an aide to Gen. George Patton during World War II.
The last spot to visit ended up being the most spectacular for me. A little further down Main Street is Oceanview Avenue and Loop Beach. The road itself is a one-way loop, thus the beach name. The beach itself is nice but it is the walk back up the hill that is Oceanview Ave. that gives some of the most amazing views on the Cape. Though mostly dotted with private homes there are still several open patches of landscape allowing for a view of Cotuit Bay, Oyster Harbors, and the Sampson’s Island Sanctuary(left). It is easy to see why these people chose to live on such a spot. It capped off a great ride through the western sections of Barnstable.
Barnstable has many small villages; each one has its own share of natural beauty and historical significance. When the bustle of Rt. 28 and Rt. 132 have overloaded your senses, take a turn down Craigville Beach Road and start your journey through a simpler, quieter section of the Cape. It is worth the trip. Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: Craigville Beach: From Rt. 28 heading east, turn right onto Old Stage Road. Old Stage Rd. becomes Main Street, 1856 Country Store is on the left. Continue on as Main Street becomes Craigville Beach Rd. The beach is on the right.
Osterville Historical Museum: From Rt. 28 heading east, turn right onto Old East Osterville Rd. Follow it to the end and turn right onto Bumps River Rd. bear left onto Pond St. Follow Pond St. to Main Street. Turn right at Yachtsman Circle, continue onto Parker Rd. Turn right at West Bay Rd., Historical Museum is on the left.
Cotuit Memorial Park/Loop Beach: From Rt. 28 heading east, turn right onto Main Street just after end of Rt. 130. Follow Main Street a mile and a half, Cotuit Library and Memorial Park are on the right. Continue on about 1,000 feet, Oceanview Avenue is on the left, follow it to Loop Beach.
References: 1856 Country Store