Hidden History

Hidden History, produced by WCAI Morning Edition co-host Brian Morris, focuses on lesser-known historic events, places and people from around Cape Cod, the Islands and the South Coast.

You can hear Hidden History during every other Monday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Have a great idea for a Hidden History story? Send Brian Morris an email.

Brian Morris/WCAI

From behind the wheel of a grey mini-van, long-time Martha’s Vineyard resident Elaine Weintraub leads a tour of the island’s African American Heritage Trail.

“The purpose is to affirm African American presence wherever it occurred,” said Weintraub, Director of the Heritage Trail.  

Brian Morris/WCAI

This year marks the 172nd anniversary of the Great Fire that destroyed much of Nantucket’s downtown. 

Recently, the Nantucket Historical Association sponsored a “Great Fire Tour,” complete with a vintage 1945 pumper truck on loan from the Nantucket Hotel. With about ten people aboard, the fire truck began slowly lumbering through Nantucket’s downtown – vastly different today from what it was in 1846.

Brian Morris/WCAI

Say the phrase “Cape Cod house,” and most people picture a quaint, grey-shingled cottage. But deep in the woods of Wellfleet, a group of outliers defy that stereotype. These are modern homes built by a group of bohemian designers who gravitated to the area in the 1930s and 40s and pioneered the school of modern architecture. Several of these houses have been restored by the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, which offers tours of the homes during summer.

Brian Morris/WCAI

This week marks the 200th birthday of Maria Mitchell, the noted astronomer who started her career on Nantucket.

Todd Kennelly

The Cape Cod Coliseum is a former entertainment venue in South Yarmouth that once hosted ice hockey games, professional wrestling matches, as well as some of most legendary acts in rock music.

The Coliseum opened in 1972. It was initially built as an arena for youth and amateur ice hockey matches, and was home to the Cape Cod Cubs of the Eastern Hockey League.

Brian Morris/WCAI

Provincetown is already gearing up to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in 1620. Many of the celebrations will center around the Pilgrim Monument, which sits atop High Pole Hill, affording a spectacular view of the town and harbor below.  

Boston Globe

Whether you live on Cape Cod year-round or visit during summer, Route 6 is a part of daily life. Most of us use it to get pretty much anywhere of any distance on this small peninsula. It’s so baked into the DNA of the place that it’s hard to imagine a time before summer traffic jams, before the familiar artery we so heavily rely on today.

Woods Hole Historical Museum

Though barely a trace remains today, the Pacific Guano Company operated for 26 years on what is now Penzance Point in Woods Hole, transforming what was a sleepy farming village into a thriving community.

wikipedia.com

The Keith Car Works was a huge factory that once stood on land that existed before the present-day Cape Cod Canal was dug out. But the name is a bit misleading, as the factory primarily made various types of wagons, and later, railroad cars. Jerry Ellis is a former Bourne selectman whose house sits about 50 yards from the canal.

Brian Morris WCAI

The First Baptist Church in New Bedford is one of the city’s most important landmarks. The church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 to commemorate an event that occurred there over 150 years ago. 

Brian MorrisWCAI

With the approach of Patriot’s Day, seven Provincetown men will be honored nearly 240 years after they had served in the Revolutionary War. The seven men are interred at the Winthrop Street cemetery – the oldest in town - and their service was discovered almost by accident, as part of an effort to identify notable people buried there.

Huffington Post

“America the Beautiful” has endured for more than a century as one of our country’s best-loved patriotic songs. It began as a poem written by Katharine Lee Bates, who was born in Falmouth and spent much of her life as a teacher at Wellesley College.

Brian Morris/WCAI

In the early 1900’s, Acushnet Avenue in the North End of New Bedford was a hub of entertainment, with a number of theaters offering vaudeville, comedy acts, exotic dancing and other types of live shows. There was the Idle Hour. Allen’s Theater. The Comique. And the Cordelia Vien Theater, named for a local businesswoman, Cordelia Vien.

Barnstable Patriot

Just north of Route 6-A in West Barnstable, a narrow path runs through a nature preserve to the edge of what looks like a pond. It’s actually the flooded clay pit from the West Barnstable Brick Company, the ruins of which lie just out of view on the opposite side.

Chatham Historical Society

In May, 1915, a German U-boat sank the ocean liner Lusitania, killing almost 1,200 people and causing great alarm throughout the U-S shipping industry, where vessels were suddenly vulnerable up and down the Atlantic seaboard. The government responded by setting up a series of air stations along the east coast to defend against the growing threat. One of these facilities was built on a flat, 20-acre site in North Chatham.

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