By bringing history and culture to life, the Orleans Historical Society will inspire a shared sense of community and pride in the rich heritage of the Town of Orleans.
Main St and River Rd :: On the way to Nauset Beach
A Greek Revival structure that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Formerly used as the Meeting House forthe Universalist Church of Orleans, this building houses the Society's Museum and is used for special exhibits and cultural programs. The Society has a collection covering genealogical information, diaries, deeds, 19th and 20th century photos, artwork by local artists, special collections focusing on Orleans families and individuals, ships' logs, Native American artifacts, and other items relating to the history of Orleans and its citizens.
The OHS Building Committee has developed a preliminary floor and site plan (see above) for an expansion of the Meeting House to better support public functions and events. The addition (at the end facing downtown) would create handicap restrooms, handicap access, and some much-needed storage space. In preparation for this addition, we recently upgraded our septic system to a Title 5. Our expansion falls outside the required setback, so we will be approaching the town for a variance, requiring us to go before the Board of Appeals. Without a variance we will not be able to expand. With the variance we will begin to seek an architect who will work with us to design and determine the cost of Phase I, after which we will begin our fund-raising.
Restored, owned and operated by the Orleans Historical Society, the original CG36500 is a Gold Medal boat made famous by its crew of four in the February 18th, 1952 rescue of 32 survivors of the ill-fated tanker Pendleton, during a tremendous 70 knot northeasterly storm. The four Coasties took 36500 out in this wild storm in what seemed an impossible mission. They returned to the Chatham Station with 32 rescued crewmen. All four Coast Guard crewmen received the Gold Life Saving Medal for getting to the broken tanker under almost impossible conditions and heroically rescuing the 32 crewmen from the Pendleton.
Watch for the January 2016 release of the Disney film "The Finest Hours" based on the true story of the 1952 rescue!
An exhibit tribute to the lifesaving tradition of our community. This legacy dates back almost 170 years before Orleans was incorporated as a separate municipality. During the winter of 1626-1627, the Sparrowhawk was wrecked off the shores of what became Orleans, and the first documented rescue mission was headed by none other than Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.
The Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the first organization to address the plight of shipwreck survivors soon after it was founded in 1786. By erecting shelters along the coast and stocking them with survival supplies, hope was provided to those who made it to shore after disasters in our dangerous waters. One of the first huts provided by the Society was in Orleans. Some of these huts, including the one in Orleans, became early lifesaving stations, provided with a boat and staffed by volunteers.
When the first train steamed into Orleans, MA, at 11:30 a.m. on December 6, 1865, it officially opened the rail line extension from Yarmouth that would change the town forever. No longer just a quiet, seaside village, Orleans was now the new terminus for trainloads of people and freight from Boston and New York City. It would remain so for five years until the line was completed to Wellfleet.
is an exciting web collection of vintage images of Orleans; teams, class pics and more!
View Sam's Scrapbook > >
The Society is currently working on several preservation projects made possible through grants
provided by the Community Preservation Act.
To learn more about these projects click here >>
Beautiful historic markers for qualifying houses.
Members $95 ~ Non-members $120
Find out if your house is eligible for a marker!
For details and an application download PDF here
or call 508-240-1329
located in Orleans, contains an historic collection of Atlantic undersea telegraphic cables, instruments, maps, and assorted memorabilia.
Come and see history. Learn more > >
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