Learn about the 1736 Dennis Manse MuseumAdd to My Luxx Living
The Manse (term for minister’s house) Museum is the home, built in 1736, of our first settled minister, the Reverend Josiah Dennis, and his family. Our mission is to share the rich history of this home and of Dennis. We show visitors through the Manse, its Maritime Room, and the Schoolhouse, and tell about the families who lived here when this area was the East Precinct of Yarmouth. We are located at the corner of Nobscussett Road and Whig Street in Dennis.
Dennis is the ONLY town in the U.S.A. to be named after its first settled minister, AND, to have his home owned and preserved by that town. The Manse is run entirely by volunteers, supported by the Town of Dennis. Interpreters in colonial attire, of their own making or supplied by our volunteer sewing group, share their knowledge of the Manse, the Dennis and Stone family stories, our artifacts, and the history of Dennis with our visitors. If you’d like to “try us out”, we’d love to have you volunteer at a special event.
On June 25, 2011 we had a Grand Re-Opening Celebration with dignitaries, Fire Department Color Guard, D-Y High School Band and Militia re-enactors. This National Register Listed Property had been closed since September 2009 for major repairs, to make it last another 270 years—or more. Now the Manse sits on a small hill; it used to be 2 feet below street level. It has handicap parking, a ramp entrance, a handicap accessible restroom, and a new parking area entrance on Nobscussett Road, near the corner of Whig Street. Our gem is restored.
At the back of the Manse building is an addition called the Maritime Room. Here are displayed paintings, models and dioramas of Dennis’ rich maritime history; shore whaling, the eight Shiverick Clipper Ships, built at the Shiverick Shipyard by Sesuit Harbor, a lightship, and mementos our famous sea captains brought home from their voyages. Anyone who enjoys Maritime History might like to volunteer exclusively in the Maritime Room.
The one room Old West Schoolhouse was built in 1745. Half of this Schoolhouse is furnished appropriately for the 1700s, and the other half has a variety of desks and items used in an 1800s classroom. This allows an easy comparison of schoolroom differences. The Schoolhouse and our Spinning and Weaving Room (upstairs in the Manse) are our 2 “hands on” areas. We encourage “touching” in these two places. We also maintain beautiful Colonial Gardens of herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Members of the Howes family lived in the Manse for over 200 years after the passing of the last of the Dennis family. Howes family members donated many of the furnishings, wearing apparel, children’s toys & games, and paintings that are on display. The Sears and Crowell families are also well represented in portraits, paintings and clothing displays.
In the spring, third grade students, from Ezra H. Baker Elementary School in West Dennis, annually participate in a “hands-on” experience when they visit the Manse, learning about Colonial life during the time of Rev. Dennis.
We have a number of Junior Docents, youngsters of at least age 10, who are interested in learning colonial crafts and Dennis history, and passing that information on to our guests. Parental permission slips and emergency medical release forms must be filled out parents of minors before they can volunteer at the Manse.
We will be open: we had a successful 2014 season and look forward to a wonderful 2015 summer. Our hours for 2015 will continue to be Tuesdays (10am to 1pm) and Thursdays (1pm to 4pm) from June 27 through August 27. We will also be open on Saturdays, July 11, July 25, Aug. 29, Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 (Autumn at the Manse) from 1pm to 4pm. Our Opening Reception is Saturday, June 27 from 1 to 4. On August 15 from 1oam to 4pm we hold a Colonial Open House with outdoor activities on the Manse grounds, including spinners, weavers, candle making, pie making, games. This year Old Sturbridge Village Curator, Tom Kelleher, will demonstrate the craft of blacksmith. Christmas at the Manse is on Sunday, Dec. 13 from Noon to 3:30pm.
The Manse Committee was formed to manage the 1736 Josiah Dennis Manse Museum and it’s contents, and to make the building and its history available to the public during the summer tourist season.
The Josiah Dennis Manse Committee meets at 9AM on the second Wednesday of every month at Carleton Hall. Our meetings are open to the public and our minutes are filed with the town clerk. We also report to the Dennis Historical Society, as they are responsible for the buildings’ contents. It is certainly not required that you be a Manse Committee member to volunteer, but a number of our docents ARE committee members.
We have a group of dedicated volunteers who staff the Manse during the summer season and at “special events”. We are seeking new volunteers to learn the history of Dennis village. Training, a docent manual, and colonial costume pieces will be provided. Join us!
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