The Greek Revival Meeting House Museum in Orleans, one of manyCape structures built as a Universalist meeting house, now houses the Orleans Historical Society museum. It is packed with the stuff of everyday life: deeds, diaries, photos, local artwork, ships’ logs, Native American artifacts, and lots more.
A variety of events held May through November offer insight into and celebration of all that is uniquely rooted in the Cape.
Beyond the museum, the society maintains the CG36500, a Coast Guard boat that in 1952 saved 32 crewmen from the tanker Pendleton, which was sinking in a 70-knot nor’easter. It was nothing short of a miracle that anyone — much less everyone — survived. It makes for riveting reading, and a visit to the boat brings it home.
The Historical Society also oversees the Jonathan Young Windmill. It took two years of restoration to bring this windmill back online, using all of its early parts and machinery. Most other windmills rely more on replacement parts.
Built in the early 1700s in South Orleans, it was moved to Orleans Center, where the Governor Prence Motor Inn now stands (66 Route 6A), and then on to Hyannisport. In 1987, it was moved back to Orleans, where it now stands overlooking Town Cove Park.
The mill no longer grinds corn, but the machinery still operates and the exhibits bring it to life. Some guides have milling experience themselves, which takes a tour to a whole ’nother level of insight.