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Chapel in the Pines is back


It’s been a long time coming, but the restoration of the iconic Chapel in the Pines in Eastham is finally nearing completion.

Regular Sunday meetings of the Nauset Fellowship U.U. have resumed and the first post-restoration community event, a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, is scheduled for Nov. 17.

The Chapel, which features a unique carpenter gothic style, “is truly a gem and a very important part of Eastham’s history,” in the words of NFUU President Bob Seay.

Here’s five nuggets of history that perhaps you didn’t know about the Chapel …

  • The first meeting of the Eastham First Universalist Church was held on Aug. 12, 1889, with 23 members present at the Town Hall. Thanks to a land donation from W.H. Nickerson, and $2,300 raised locally, the church was first dedicated on Jan. 29, 1890, with Pastor Donald Frazier and 49 members present.

  • Whaling legend Capt. Edward Penniman headed a “subscription list for the necessary funds and (took) untiring interest in the completion of the edifice,” according to the church’s records. After Penniman died at his home on Oct. 16, 1913, his obituary said “that his loss will be a staggering blow” to the church.

  • The 40—by-50-foot chapel is also immortalized on canvas (Church in Eastham, Edward Hopper, 1948) and film (Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, 1987).

  • Many guest soloists performed during the 1950s, some of which were from the Cape Cod Conservatory, who used the church as an extension of its main school.

  • The Chapel has housed the First Encounter Coffeehouse since June 28, 1974, when 200 people paid $2 each to watch performances by George Gritzbach and Ruth Roberts. David Roth will headline the grand re-opening of the Coffeehouse on Nov. 24.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Learn more about Eastham’s past in Don’s book, A Brief History of Eastham: On the Outer Beach of Cape Cod, from The History Press.


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© 2020 by Don Wilding.

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