Osterville's local veterans club established in 1947
“Osterville’s Fox Hole was dug, literally, in the midst of Archie Bunker’s big war -- doubleya, doubleya two -- by CBs (Navy Construction Battalion) stationed in Crosbytown, where the boatyards are, as a place to hang out. Then dug again, rhetorically, when a platoon of local warriors who escaped Flanders Fields accepted the historic building from the Horticultural Society in 1947and transformed it into the headquarters of the Osterville Veterans Association.” —Dick Hughes
“The switch from flowers to foxhole was not the site’s first change of purpose. The first building upon it began its long career as a quasi-public facility on “Hall Hill,” at Main and West Bay Road across from Wimpy’s Restaurant, as a gathering place for “Lovell’s Neighborhood” sometime prior to 1803, when it became a school house as well until 1826.
It later served as a religious melting pot that accommodated services for Baptists, Methodists and Universalists, albeit their rites were held separately. The religious groups eventually built churches of their own and the building became a social center for the growing community.
The original building was replaced in 1897 after suffering the ravages of time. It was sold and carted away. Village builders and investors at $5 a share managed to finish the project complete with a small basement “supper room” with ample stage and hall above. They dedicated it as Union Hall and made it the focus of entertainment for minstrels, concerts and amateur plays for nearly a half-century.
If you had been at the hall on Feb. 17, one hundred and thirty four years ago Sunday, you would have learned that Henry David Thoreau was not the only man to walk the Cape.
That night, “world-renowned pedestrian” Barney Gould was guest speaker and regaled his audience with anecdotes of travels through nearly every state in the union “including the state of New Orleans.”
It was said that Gould, in the pedestrian express business, was once asked to haul a mattress from Middleboro to Hyannis. He walked to Hyannis, got a wheelbarrow, then walked to Middleboro, put the mattress in it, and barrowed it back to Hyannis.
The onset of commercial houses of entertainment diminished the hall’s importance in that realm and its caretakers relinquished it to the Horticultural Society until, in 1947, marching to time’s cadence, the society passed it on to the veterans.
The site and the building upon it harbors much of Osterville’s rich history and if past is prologue, one might ask of the hall’s future: “What’s next?”
Published Date: 2/15/08 by Paul Gauvin—Barnstable Patriot