For years locals have referred to this stretch of Route 6A as “Captains’ Mile” due to the large number of historic sea captains houses that line both sides of the road inbetween Willow Street and Union Street. In fact, in 1966 this beautiful district was declared a national historical district. In addition to the 47 sea captains’ homes that are on the highway, there are a further eight to be found in this charming village, not to mention a number of other historic buildings, including our inn which was the Sears Hotel in the early 19th century.
There is a fascinating publication available providing a self guided walking tour of these historic homes.It has been beautifully put together by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth, and copies are always available in our library. Each former sea captains house is taken in turn and marked on a detailed map, which you can follow as you walk through this glorious little village. A schooner plaque identifies each sea captains house, and in the guide each has a photo with commentary on the sea captain, the name(s) of his ship(s) and in some cases brief details of his adventures and eventual fate. There is even a Glossary of Sailing Ships at the back of the guide with a description and illustration of the eight different vessels of the period.
If I was asked to pick my favorite two or three houses, they would be : 100 and 381 Old King’s Highway, and of course 11 Strawberry Lane, which was Captain Bangs Hallet’s home and now a popular museum.
At the western end of Yarmouth Port,Captain Asa Eldridge (1809-1856) lived at the beautiful 100, King’s Highway. He was known internationally for his exploits and seamanship, and was the most famous of the Cape Cod ship masters. He commanded the yacht North Star for Cornelius Vanderbilt on his European excursion, and achieved world fame when he sailed the clipper ship Red Jacket from New York to Liverpool, England in the record time of 13 days and one hour. Two years later he lost his life when the steamer Pacific sank in the Irish Sea.
Captain Ezra C. Howes made his residence in 1867 at the opposite end of the village at 381 Old King’s Highway. He was a descendant of Thomas Howes who arrived in the neighbouring village of Dennis in 1637.
A popular pre-breakfast stroll for our guests is to the location of the old Yarmouth Port wharf. A small part of its structure still remains visible, and although this is now an area of natural beauty, if you use a little imagination you may be able to see the packet ships lining the horizon as they did in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.