Hidden Cape Cod: Friends of Crosby Mansion celebrate 25 years

Have you heard of the Crosby Mansion in Brewster? Even life long residents are surprised to learn about the historical ornate home just steps to Crosby Beach.

Crosby Mansion has a very interesting past. Like every good fairy tale, it starts with romance. Albert Crosby made his money selling distilled medicinal alcohol to the US Army during the Civil War. He returned to Cape Cod to turn his unassuming childhood home into the palace his new wife, Matilda, deserved.

The original Cape still stands and Crosby Mansion, which was then called Tawasentha, was built around it. The opulent home has a very modest core. 

He took inspiration from around the world. The exterior is reminiscent of the grand style Chicago’s Gold Coast including a 60 foot viewing tower. The parlor is fashioned after the Palace of Versailles. The entrance duplicates one at Buckingham Palace.  The home also features over 15 fireplaces, a two story billiard room, marble sinks and gas lighting and heating throughout.

Matilda filled the mansion with art and regularly held parties. The soirees were legendary, but Albert was said to have preferred retiring to the old rooms of his childhood home.

After Albert’s death, Matilda opened the gallery once a week to the public in exchange for the city not raising her taxes. The gallery held works from Childe Hassan, El Greco, and Albert Bierstadt to name a few. It attracted high profile visitors like the Duke of Wales, Helen Keller, and Samuel Clemens.

But there was a time when the mansion could have been lost forever.

25 years ago, the house was derelict and in danger of being forgotten forever. Brian Locke couldn’t bear to see that happen and started a letter writing campaign. He ever rallied 80 volunteers to help save the building. Only a faithful 10 remained to carry on the painstaking process of restoring the house to it’s former beauty.

Now the home is a true treasure to the area and is completely self sufficient thanks to tours, weddings, and rental of a cottage.

Daytime weddings can be held at Crosby Mansion. The lawn and porch is the perfect setting for a ceremony. The function room can host up to 100 guests. Brian says the guided tours during the cocktail hour and the proximity to the beach are a big hit.

For a $5 donation, you can visit Crosby Mansion. Guided tours are available every other Sunday during July and August from 10-3pm. In addition this summer they are planning a 25th anniversary fundraising celebration.

The Friends of Crosby Mansion would love new docents. If you want more information on volunteering or joining the Friends of Crosby Mansion contact Brian Locke at The Crosby Mansion (508) 896 – 1744.

By Rebecca Romo, Lifestyle Reporter CapeCod.com

About Rebecca Romo

Rebecca Romo hosts Feel Good Mornings weekday mornings from 6-10 am on 99.9 The Q. Originally from New Orleans, she moved to Cape to be with her husband a second generation Cape Codder.

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