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Hidden History at Yarmouthport’s Kelley Chapel & Nature Trails

Written by Laura M. Reckford

YARMOUTHPORT – Different season, different sights. Returning to the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth trails off Route 6A on a recent cloudy summer afternoon, we noticed an addition to the property and took a closer look at the historic buildings gathered in this woodland setting.

First there is the Kelley Chapel, built in 1873 and moved here in 1960, a little symmetrical jewel of a chapel in a clearing in the woods.

What we hadn’t noticed during our last visit is that the historic blacksmith shop next to the chapel is also picturesque, a glimpse into a profession of the past. The sign on the building reads, Benjamin Hallet Blacksmith Horseshoeing Ironwork.

Speaking of professions, at the entrance to the property is the Gorham Cobbler Shop, circa 1850, now serving as the administrative offices and archival research center of the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth. Another souvenir of Old Cape Cod, the handsome federal style building’s sign reads, B.T. Gorham Boots & Shoes.

The new addition to the site is a reminder of the original inhabitants of this peninsula:  A Native American home called a Wetu is being constructed of sticks and twine in a meadow near the chapel. The sign instructs that the home is for educational events and it is to be admired from a distance. According to information from the historical society, the Wetu is being constructed by Marcus Hendricks, a member of the Wampanoag and Nipmuc tribes. Plans are for talks on Native American life, culture and customs in the future.

Walk the short and easy Pond Trail, with its entrance next to the Wetu for a taste of nature to go with your history lesson.

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For more photos from across Cape Cod, please see Scenic Cape

About the author

Laura M. Reckford

Laura M. Reckford is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. She has been a reporter and editor on Cape Cod for more than 20 years in magazines, newspapers and radio. She has also authored numerous Frommer's Travel Guide editions on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

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