THE CENTERS for CULTURE and HISTORY
Founded in 1958 as the Orleans Historical Society, our Vision is to bring culture and history to life and thus inspire a shared sense of community and pride in the rich heritage of our town.
Our Meetinghouse, the adjacent Hurd Chapel and the Gold Medal CG 36500 Motor Lifeboat all serve as gathering places or “centers” for learning and activities. The many residents and guests who have visited these historic sites, attended our programs and become CHO members have seen our commitment to preserving and honoring the past.
Yet this is only part of our story. As Orleans focuses on the future, we seek to be a positive contributor and strong advocate for change and cultural growth that respect the town’s history.
We appreciate the support received from the community and look forward to continued and expanded public participation over our next 60 years.
This Greek Revival structure was built in 1834 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Formerly used as the meeting house for the Universalist Church of Orleans, this building houses the CHO’s Museum and is used for special exhibits and cultural programs. Since 2017, more than $1 million has been raised and spent on updating this facility and making it more accessible to all.
CG36500 Motor Lifeboat
Made famous by its night-time rescue of 32 crew members from the broken tanker Pendleton during a ferocious winter storm in 1952, the Gold Medal CG36500 honors the brave crew in what has been called “the greatest small-boat rescue in Coast Guard history.” She is the focus of The Finest Hours book and Disney movie. Since 1981, countless volunteer hours have been spent on fully restoring and operating the boat.
The Hurd Chapel, built in 1937 and donated to the CHO nearly 40 years later, is being moved closer to the Meetinghouse and will be placed on a more solid foundation with a basement. Its systems will be updated for year-round use as a smaller meeting and work/research area, with climate-controlled storage for archives and artifacts on the walk-out lower level.