Across from the Sandwich Public Library is a tall, gray building that a passerby would assume to be a church. Inside, a hand-painted sign titled “First Parish Meetinghouse” can be found beside a spiral staircase that leads up to a spire.
The first building to occupy the site, located in the exact center of the original settlement, was the Town of Sandwich’s first meetinghouse in 1639, according to R.A. Lovell, Jr.’s “Sandwich: A Cape Cod Town.” The one-story, thatched-roof building was used for town business on weekdays and religious services on Sundays. Several “improvements” were made to the structure throughout the years, such as adding a story and widening the building. It was not until the 1960s that the First Parish came under private ownership.
New owners Colonel and Mrs. Ronald Thomas removed the church pews, installing exhibit cases for their doll collection and opening the Yesteryears Museum. Many in Sandwich today know the building as “the Old Doll Museum,” but likely fewer know that it later became a private home. The building was renovated by Belfry Inn & Bistro owner Chris Wilson, who purchased it after the museum closed. The property is currently for sale with a listing price of $1.4 million.
Sun shines through stained-glass windows into a living area where parish services were once held. The over 7,000-square-foot home contains five bedrooms, each with gas fireplaces and ensuite bathrooms. In the front, the spiral staircase near the historic sign leads to a circular window in the tower, offering a view of the Sandwich Glass Museum—perhaps much different than what could be seen more than 180 years ago.
For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Mark Yetman Jr. at Today Real Estate, 508-568-8146.