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CHO Centers // Orleans Historical Society



Captain Linnell House
Captain Linnell House
Orleans Meetinghouse
Orleans Meetinghouse

3 YEAR PLAN - $3,000,000

  YEAR 1  

Make key improvements to the Meetinghouse.


Update mechanical and electrical systems, and expand meeting and exhibit spaces. 


Secure lead gifts for the Captain Linnell

  YEAR 2  
Hurd Chapel Plans/Linnell

Continue Meetinghouse improvements; plan for Hurd Chapel move and Modernization.


Make Meetinghouse entrances and bathroom accessible and ADA-compliant; finalize plans for Hurd Chapel; enter public phase of Captain Linnell fundraising.

  YEAR 3  
Linnell & Sustainability

Purchase Linnell and increase endowment and maintenance funds.

Provide a sustainable future for OHS: its buildings, collections, community programs and the CG36500 lifeboat.


There is no room for growth at the current Meetinghouse, where less than 1/3 of important local artifacts and archives can be displayed. The purchase of the Captain Linnell House is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preserve a historic, beloved and well known facility with space for a wide variety of cultural and community events. In addition, this purchase would provide OHS with a viable and
sustainable revenue source.


Why Orleans?
What Will Our Legacy Be?

Orleans has lost some of its unique historic buildings already. Unlike other Cape Cod towns, we also lack any central community or cultural center for all ages and groups to enjoy. Orleans is the center of lower Cape Cod. Let’s create a new legacy and enhance our lives in Orleans. Let’s take this opportunity to build an even better town. Let’s highlight our rich historical past and support the brightest future.


Captain Ebenezer Harding Linnell built his home, the Captain Linnell House, in 1850 for his family. They lived in this special home while he explored the world as a sea captain during the exciting and dangerous time of clipper ships. With the unique opportunity to purchase the Captain Linnell House, the Orleans Historical Society has the chance to showcase a much-loved state landmark of historical significance while expanding OHS exhibit space and creating a vibrant cultural center to enhance the town of Orleans.

This purchase of the Captain Linnell House does the following:

  • Supports the town’s goal to preserve and protect historic buildings in Orleans

  • Creates a state-of-the-art museum and cultural center for residents and visitors

  • Remains a critical rental function space for weddings and other private and public events, creating a viable and sustainable revenue source for OHS

  • Attracts more visitors to Orleans


Purchasing the Captain Linnell House provides space for growth and local preservation, and meets our ongoing commitment to protect and display important historical Orleans artifacts.

As shown below, the Captain Linnell House will be an ideal venue to exhibit both the stories of Captain Linnell and of the clipper ships, indicative of Cape Cod’s exciting and lasting relationship with the sea. The Clipper Ships and the Age of Sail exhibit would explain how those ships connected Cape Cod with the world, bringing all types of goods to this area and making Cape sailors some of the most global travelers of their day. A Captain Linnell and Family exhibit would show how a Cape Cod sea captain found considerable success as he carved out a living for his family.

Preserving and honoring this vital piece of our local history will benefit and inspire residents and visitors, both today and for generations to come.

Capt Linnell House Old.png

Above: Postcard of Captain Linnell House, circa 1950.
Right: Sketch of future Captain Linnell House exhibits

Capt Linnell sketch.png


The Meetinghouse, listed on the National Register of Historic places, has been home to the Orleans Historical Society (OHS) for more than 45 years. Critical updates and changes will make the building more functional and accessible. The Meetinghouse will continue for many more years to serve its historical purpose as a community gathering place.

Plans to update the 1929 Hurd Chapel and place it onto a new foundation with a temperature-controlled basement will render a year-round exhibit space, plus capacity for storage and safe archive preservation. An “open collection” exhibit style will allow visitors to use computers to explore the collections and conduct local genealogical research.

The two buildings closer together will present an exciting improved campus focusing on general Orleans history, including the town’s link to its nautical life-saving legacy. Local entrepreneurial efforts that played a vital role in building our economy will also be displayed: salt works, cranberry bogs, tourism, Cape league baseball, and more.

The comprehensive history of Orleans and its link to the sea will allow for rotating or traveling exhibits as well as a welcoming community gathering space.

OHS sketch.png
OHS rendering.png

Top: Current Hurd Chapel (left) and Meetinghouse
(right). Middle: Sketch of future Meetinghouse
exhibits. Bottom: Rendering of new Hurd location
with Meetinghouse and plaza.


On the night of February 18, 1952, during a raging 70-knot nor’easter snowstorm, four Coast Guardsmen (coxswain Bernard C. “Bernie” Webber, Andrew Fitzgerald, Ervin Maske and Richard Livesey) set out on the 36500 to rescue crewmen on the tanker Pendleton that had broken apart in a storm. Incredibly, they returned to the Chatham Life-Saving Station with 32 survivors—on a boat designed to carry half that number safely. All the “Coasties” received the Gold Life-Saving Medal for their bravery under these almost impossible conditions.

US Coast Guard Seal

The Orleans Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Your contributions are tax deductible within the limits prescribed by law.

Contact Us

Orleans Historical Society

3 River Road

PO Box 353

Orleans, MA 02653

phone:  508-240-1329


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