Henry Beston’s “Outermost House” Artifacts On Exhibit This Summer
EASTHAM—Henry Beston’s famous “Outermost House” was washed out to sea during the famous “Blizzard of 1978,” but many rare artifacts from the author’s iconic Cape Cod seaside shanty will be returning to view for the summer of 2015.
In a joint effort between the Eastham Historical Society and the Henry Beston Society, the “Outermost House at the Schoolhouse” exhibit will be showcased at the Historical Society’s 1869 Schoolhouse Museum, 25 Schoolhouse Road, from the last week of June until early September.
Both nonprofit organizations have built impressive collections of artifacts from Beston’s cottage, which was built in 1925. Beston’s observations of the four seasons on Eastham’s outer beach resulted in his classic book, “The Outermost House,” which was later cited as a reason for the Cape’s outer beach to be preserved as a National Seashore.
“The Schoolhouse is a wonderful place for both organizations to pool their resources and bring all of these historic artifacts together for the public to see,” said Don Wilding, the executive director of the Beston Society, which he co-founded in 2001. “America loves it historic icons, and, after reading “The Outermost House,” this is another way that the public can see how Beston lived on this beloved outer beach of Cape Cod.”
“The Eastham Historical Society (founded in 1963) is delighted to be hosting a display on Henry Beston’s Outermost House for the summer of 2015,” added Terri Rae Smith, the curator for the 1869 Schoolhouse Museum. “Beston’s cottage on the dunes was and continues to be such an integral part of Eastham’s history that it’s only right it be exhibited in our local museum.”
While staying on the beach during the 1920s, Beston would often wander into the village and visit friends. At the one-room Schoolhouse, he was a frequent visitor at the invitation of longtime Principal Otto Nickerson.
“Beston would often drop in and regale the students with nature stories and tales of his travels,” Smith noted.
Some of the artifacts from the house on display include: Beston’s walking stick, kerosene lamp, tape measure (used in drawing up the plans for the house), compass, ink well, backpack frame, coffee mug, kitchen utensils, thermometer/barometer, and cigarette lighter; the bird feeder; a window pane, shingles, and part of the chimney; a miniature replica of the house made from old shingles; electrical parts from the Marconi station found by Beston on the beach during the 1920s; a bronze Indian head calendar; a stuffed dovekie that Beston found on the beach; a copy of the 1927 Farmer’s Almanac stamped “H. Beston, The Fo’castle;” rare copies of “The Outermost House,” including a signed copy, an Armed Services edition, and a French edition; and the “Swordfish Sword,” which was given to Beston by Yngve Rongner of the Coast Guard. Beston wrote about the sword in the “Lanterns on the Beach” chapter of “The Outermost House.”
“This may be the most comprehensive exhibit of ‘Outermost House’ artifacts ever presented,” Wilding said. “We hope that visitors and Cape residents alike will join us in this celebration of one of Cape Cod’s most influential writers.”
Wilding will also present his widely-acclaimed multimedia lecture presentation, “Henry Beston’s Cape Cod,” at the Schoolhouse Museum on Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. from July 2 to Sept. 3. The 75-minute lecture program, based on Wilding’s book of the same name, features over 150 images from the Beston Society archives and rough cut footage from the Beston Society’s documentary film project, now in production.
Admission to the exhibit is free.
The Henry Beston Society
Main Street Mercantile Plaza
3 Main St., Unit 31, P.O. Box 407
North Eastham, MA 02651
(508) 246-7242 / www.henrybeston.org