Things You Might Not Know About Brewster

Settled in 1659 and named for the “pious Elder of Plymouth,” William Brewster, Brewster is known as the “sea captain’s town” for the 50-plus sea captains who called it home in the 18th and 19th centuries. It wasn’t until 1803 that the wealthy citizens of the town decided to split from Harwich and incorporate it as their own town.

Whale fishing grew as an industry prior to the Revolution. Many inhabitants of the town made their living at sea, and shipping was big business although, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the land-based production of salt grew quite large, with over 60 salt works scattered throughout the town. The Stony Brook mill site also grew, containing a “Factory Village” that brought people from all over looking to buy cloth, boots and food. The 1800s saw the arrival of travelers by boat, and later the railroads came through bringing even more travelers.

The town is famous for the Brewster Flats, a phenomenon created by the ebb and flow of the daily tides when the waters recede out of Cape Cod Bay over one mile to reveal sandbars, clam beds and tidal pools teeming with sea life. To experience this at least once a day, visit one of Brewster’s beaches. From east to west these are: Crosby Landing, Linnell Landing, Ellis Landing, Breakwater Beach, Saint’s Landing, Mant’s Landing and Paines Creek.

Brewster holds unique natural assets of more than 5,000 acres of conservation land with walking and biking trails, a herring run where the alewife migrate to their home pond, salt- and fresh-water beaches, and ponds and forests set the backdrop for the eco-tourist’s experience. In fact, “Brewster in Bloom,” which is a weekend celebration of daffodils and all things Brewster, takes place around the first weekend in May.

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History operates a museum on Route 6A and offers summer walking tours, lectures and other special events throughout the year. The historical society also maintains the Higgins Farm Windmill, Harris-Black House, and Blacksmith Shop on the grounds of Drummer Boy Park. Higgins Farm Windmill is a historic Smock windmill, originally built in 1795. The windmill was moved a number of times, the last from Ellis Landing in Brewster to its current location in 1974. In 1975 it was added to the National Historic Register of Historic Places.

One of the most important families in Brewster history was the Crosbys. Nathan Crosby was a tanner’s apprentice and became an expert before trying his luck in Chicago. After making a fortune distilling alcohol in the city, he decided to return home with his wealth and his new wife, who was 20 years his junior. He constructed the Crosby Mansion where his old home once stood, and it is still available to tour today.

The Historic Inns of Brewster are listed among the top 20 inns on Cape Cod. They include Brewster by the Sea, Candleberry Inn, Captain Freeman Inn, Old Manse Inn and the Sea Meadow Inn. Each of these inns has a unique story, now owned and managed by innkeepers who are dedicated to preserving the elegant ambience, as well as history, of these homes. Several times a year, the innkeepers hold tours of the properties so the public can experience Brewster’s past.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
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