Monday, August 17, 2009

Downtown Centerville

The Town that Time (and maybe you) Forgot - by Susan

Most of us locals know about and routinely visit some of the great little towns on the Cape: Falmouth, Chatham, Provincetown, Hyannis and so on. When I told some of my friends I was going to write about the town of Centerville they said, “There is no town of Centerville, just a beach.” Well I beg to differ; there is a “town” and it’s a great place to spend the day.

Turn south off Rt. 28 to Main Street and on your left is the Beechwood Cemetery, which has headstones that date back to the early 1800’s. I happen to love a quiet walk in an old cemetery and this one is beautiful.

Continue down Main Street and you will see many old Sea Captains' homes that date back to the early 1800’s. They are very well maintained with gorgeous gardens. If you’re a local, please drive down here again just before Christmas. All the homes on Main Street are decorated with tiny white Christmas lights twinkling among holiday greens and the scene is breathtaking. You will see the Centerville Historical Society on the left. It was originally built in 1880 as the elementary school (for the princely sum of $1700.). The Museum has many interesting exhibits and is well worth the stop.

There are a few places to stay right on Main Street. One is the Fernbrook Inn which was built in 1881 and was landscaped by Fredrick Law Olmstead, the famous landscape designer, who also designed Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace (Common, Public Garden, Fens, Olmstead Park, Arnold Arboretum). Another is the Captain David Kelley Inn, built in 1835 with stunning, recently renovated guest rooms and 3 screened in porches for relaxing.

On the right is Crosby Park, a wonderful playground, that I use to take my daughter to on a regular basis. The highlight of our playground visit was the Country Store directly across the street, where they still have penny candy (not much of it is a penny any more). Cape Cod has a lot of little General Stores that dot the landscape and this is a nice one.

Next you come to the South Congregational Church that dates back to 1717. While I was taking the pictures for this article, the bells in the church began to chime. As I came up behind the church steeple, it was just magical. Next door to the church is the Centerville Library, which is open early and has temporary library cards for visitors.

Right next to the library is a building that used to be the Centerville Fire House. It’s now a private home but I’ve heard that it's very interesting inside. A year or so ago, it was on the Centerville House Tour and hopefully it will be again!

At the corner of Main and S. Main is Cape Cod Cakes. I haven't had a cake there (yet) but they look beautiful. As most of my regular readers know, I can’t have any gluten so usually cake is not on my menu. I’m excited to say that they make gluten-free cakes too.

Around the corner is 4 Seas Ice Cream. It is nationally known and has been featured in USA Today, Conde'Nast Traveler Magazine, and the Food Channel. It is against the law to visit Centerville and not stop in. Their ice cream is homemade and they also have a little lunch room with an old fashion counter where you can get a sandwich (like pb&j, egg salad, tuna, cream cheese and olive and of course, lobster salad). You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time. As difficult as it is for me, a bonfide ice cream fanatic, to pass up an “after dinner treat," I drove by last Saturday evening; the line was around the block. Timing is everything at 4 Seas.

Continue down Craigville Beach Road and look for the kids jumping off the bridge at high tide into the Centerville River. The signs clearly say “no jumping” but that never stops anyone, especially kids (young and old). Stop for a moment and take in the view of the salt marshes and meandering Centerville River. Our next stop,Craigville Beach, is really popular with Barnstable teens. Look for my daughter. It’s her home away from home. Across the street from the beach are two beach shacks with picnic tables in the sand where you can enjoy drinks and snacks.

If you're in the mood for a walk look for Lake Elizabeth Street (across the street from the beach). Follow the signs up to Craigville Conference Center… it’s a unique spot.. quiet and wooded with freshwater ponds. You’ll see charming Victorian Cape cottages (many on the National Historic Register), an old post office, a rustic inn, the Tabernacle,and a village green which was the original 1871 church campground from which this current village evolved. It’s open year-round and you can take a retreat, host a family reunion, or any type of meeting or conference here. The Cape Cod Writers Conference takes place here as it has for 47 years. (August 15 - 22 often with famous writers leading workshops, like Mary Higgins Clark)

Once you’ve done all this, you’ll be bushed. But just a little farther down Craigville Beach Road, you’ll find Craigville Pizza and Mexican (which by the way is NOT gluten free but I recall it from my pre-GF days). Only on the Cape will you find Mexican and Pizza on the same menu... insider's tip: stick with the pizza, skip the Mexican. Now sit down, have a beer, and relax.

And you thought there was no real village of Centerville!


  1. you made a believer out of me....the quant charm is infectuous....the river pic with the sun reflecting is breath taking....exceptional photography !!!

  2. I have to agree with the previous comment, the sun mirroring off the river is a sight to behold.


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