Our Story

….where it all began…..

Circa 1850 – A portion of the Higgins Tavern and Inn in Orleans, MA was moved from the Old King’s Highway (aka 6A) to its current location at 204 Monument Road, Orleans. Henry David Thoreau mentions stopping at the Tavern in his travelogue “Cape Cod” published in 1865. We believe the small out building on the right of the tavern in the photo below was the portion moved and was used as a “home.”

Old Higgins Tavern

January 18, 1857 – During a winter blizzard, the cargo ship, Orissa, coming from Calcutta, India to Boston with a cargo of hides, gunny cloth, linseed and ginger, wrecked off the coast of Nauset Beach. Among the few survivors rescued was her skipper, Captain Cyrus Sears, who was brought to the home of Captain Dean Gray Linnell. (Sears and Linnell are still well known historical Cape Cod family names.) Eventually at low tide, the Orissa’s cargo was removed, but the ship was a total loss and left to “live on” as another casualty of the Atlantic Ocean’s storms.

1894 – Portions of the Orissa washed up on Nauset Beach. As was the custom on Cape Cod, parts of the ship were salvaged including the ship’s galley. The family who was living in the home created from the section of the tavern were in need of an extra room. So, they dragged up and moved the galley to Monument Road and attached it to their home. The actual cleaver used by the Orissa’s cook to this day is still tucked-up in the galley ceiling.

Orissa Cook’s Meat Cleaver in Ceiling

1928 – Florence and Richard Kimball came from New York City to vacation in Orleans near Crystal Lake. They bought a 4-acre tract of land on Monument Road including the patched together Tavern and Galley home and named the parcel “Galley West.”

1933 – Moving to Orleans full time in 1933, the Kimballs made Galley West their year-round home. They were founding members of Church of the Holy Spirit (CHS) and Richard Kimball became the first Rector. With the exception of electricity, heat/AC and new windows, the original Galley West building was unimproved until the 2021 historic restoration.

1933 – As a gift to the Kimballs, renowned local artist and founding member of CHS, Vernon Smith, painted a full wall mural depicting the whaling industry. Now fully restored, it remains a stunning feature in the Galley West.

Portion of 1933 Vernon Smith Mural hanging in the Galley West./p>

1940-2019 – In 1940, when the Kimballs built a more weather-tight “rectory home” with wood salvaged from an old local barn, the Galley West became a Craft Shop where Florence and members of the parish sold their handmade crafts. Proceeds from sales were used to support local families “in need” and other charities.

Florence Kimball and Vernon Smith taught the art of hammered aluminum ware to parish members. The craft continues today through members of the Kimball Guild who use the same process and tools as Florence and Vernon. Pictures below are examples of Kimball Guild items that will be for sale in the art gallery opening in 2021. Guild members are available to teach this craft to anyone interested.

2019-2021 – The Galley West Craft Shop closed in 2019. Through grants from the Orleans Community Preservation Act, the Galley West was restored as a significant historic Orleans building. On October 16, 2021, it opens as….

The new community art gallery, for artists in the eight Lower and Outer Cape Cod towns, will continue Florence Kimball’s legacy of using the Galley West as an art venue providing local artists the opportunity to show and sell their work.

Also continuing the legacy of Vernon Smith to the Galley West, the new gallery signage above was designed and made by Dan Joy of Orleans, MA, Vernon Smith’s grandson.

Come visit us and join our journey!