When I heard that Brewster, Massachusetts—On Cape Cod—once was the home to 99 schooner sea captains, I tacked on over and checked it out to see if that old sea chanty, "99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall", got started here.

Like most picturesque towns on Cape Cod, Brewster's life and history is permanently moored to the sea. I visited the spread-out rural town during the community's bicentennial celebration in 2003.

Prior to 1803, the area was part of Harwich, the next town over. No one can boss a sea captain around, so when political and economic differences caused the lines to be drawn the wealthier sea captains of Brewster created their own town—and county—named after the "pious elder of Plymouth", William Brewster, one of the original pilgrims who set sail aboard the Mayflower in 1620. Wouldn't you know that they would name a town after some one that was distantly familiar with sailing! William Brewster's chair is even on the town seal.

After the schooner captains created their wealth in the coastering trade (Most schooners kept close to the coast, they were not deep water ships, hence they were known as coasterers.) they returned to the Bay side of Cape Cod to build their exquisite mansions, villas, and estates, many of which are now resorts, inns, and bed-and-breakfasts, all catering to the two-month summer tourism crowd. Prior to the Civil War, when the seafaring economy was booming, packet ships (schooners on a regular route) sailed from Brewster's Breakwater Beach to Boston, carrying salt from the town's sixty saltworks and goods from the tannery and mill. Often the schooners returned with building materials to create some of the most amazing homes extant today.

Brewster still replicates its maritime feel. The former homes of the captains are strung along the strand on hill brows, indented from the traffic on Brewster's historic Route 6A (Main Street).

If you walk the beaches and flats at low tide (tide goes out over a mile) you will find remnants of old fishing weirs and pipes from the saltworks. At Breakwater Beach, pilings from the wharfs and pieces of the old breakwater hark back to the days when the ships docked and unloaded passengers and goods.

I envisioned the schooner heyday, the bay anchored thick with schooners, the bars and saloons bawdy with the sealife tales, crusty characters spinning yarns long into the night. Many of those buildings still stand as historic museum pieces: the Brewster Store and the Beechcroft Inn were originally churches. The Candleberry Inn once housed a school. The Old Sea Pines Inn was the home of the local Christian Science community.

How often do you get to stay in a schooner captain's historic home?

Neaby Cape Cod Bay sea salt scents the air in many of the rooms, villas, suites, and condos at Oceanedge Resort. Below: Light cascades through your room, inviting you outdoors.

Samuel Nickerson was a direct descendent of William Nickerson, of Norwich County, of Norfolk, England. William sailed to America in 1637 and settled in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. He later purchased the territory of Manomott (now Chatham) from the Indians. William's influence in civic and religious issues contributed to the growth of the town of Chatham. Samuel Nickerson left Cape Cod in 1847 as a young man and went to Chicago. One year later, now in the distillery business, Samuel married Matilda Crosby, a Brewster native. In 1859, Samuel and Matilda's only child, Roland, was born. Samuel became involved with banking in 1863, serving as president of the First National Bank of Chicago for 25 years.

In 1890, Samuel Nickerson and Matilda, built the impressive Fieldstone Hall, their Brewster summer residence along the ocean edge, on a knoll, and today the mansion serves guests as the Oceanedge Resort. Sam and Matilda's son Roland and wife Addie later occupied the estate. This was the social and political navigation point for Brewster.

Roland married Addie Daniels of Brewster in 1866 and had three children, Samuel, Roland Jr., and Helen. In 1906, Fieldstone burned to the foundations. Roland, in ill health, died two weeks later. In 1907, his widow, Addie, began reconstruction of Fieldstone Hall. Addie and her two surviving children, Roland Jr., and Helen, spent much of their time at the mansion. The Mansion, as it is called today, was completed in 1912. While it incorporates some features from the original version, its architectural style reflects the attitudes of the 1900s rather than the Victorian 1890s. Designed by a Boston architectural firm, the new house resembles an English country manor with an eclectic blend of Renaissance, Revival, and Gothic themes. Mansion accoutrements include an intricately carved, imported Italian oak staircase, Edwardian fireplaces in marble and carved wood, sterling silver wall sconces, leaded glass windows, tiered chandeliers, and outdoor terraces.

In 1942, the Mansion was purchases by LaSalette Fathers and used as a seminary. In 1980 the property was sold to a developer and in 1988 the Mansion was transformed into Oceanedge Resort, complete with added modern condo and villa villages. The developer renovated the Mansion, and now you too can be a Schooner Captain for a day or two.

As I arrived down the circular driveway, I wasn't sure if the Carriage House was the hotel, it was so big, but the Mansion swung into view, a veritable castle. Both buildings have impressive views from the five-acre brow of land overlooking Cape Cod Bay in the distance, and I am sure from the gabled bedroom windows on the second floor the ghost of Captain Nickerson still views the arrival and departure of his wealth-creating fleet of schooners. At least Addie's ghost has made the apparition rumor list here.

Tennis and Golf prevail at
the Oceanedge Resort.

The Carriage House offers accommodations and meeting rooms, but the resort's reception desk is at the Mansion. I have to get used to calling the resort "the Mansion". Everyone referred to it as such. The Mansion is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In its heyday the house was staffed with 22 servants.

Young British lasses were in hotel training behind the counter, and after showing the driver of the free resort shuttle my Platinum Key I was soon whisked away to one of the newer of the five "villages", a modern golf course condo complex complete with full kitchen, washer/dryer, and balcony overlooking the fairway—and guess what the name of the golf course is? You guessed it—The Captains Golf Course (508/896-5100). I was indeed in the Schooner Captain Capital.

Oceanedge is a full service resort with 300 guest rooms, 88 spacious hotel rooms, and two Grand Corner Suites within the historic Mansion

A stone tower once was used to capture electricity and now is part of the golf course. At one time the Mansion embraced huge acreages, with livestock and farms. The Nickerson's even had their own private game preserve, now endowed to the Massachusetts Commonwealth as Nickerson State Park, an area brimming with ponds and bike paths. In fact, the trailhead for a bay-to-ocean bike path picks up at the Oceanedge. The paved pathways of the Cape Cod Rail begins in Dennis, meandering 26 miles to the Cape Cod National Seashore on the Atlantic side of the Cape. You can access the Rail Trail at any point in any of the villages. Bike rentals are at the Reef Bicycle Center, near the reef café, the Fletcher Tennis Complex, or the Bay Pines Tennis Shop. There are six pools (some outdoors and heated) on the property. Take a swimming lesson with Red Cross trained staff.

Pools abound
around the Mansion.

The resort offers 11 tennis courts, five clay and six plexi pave hard courts. Private and group lessons are available, with the tennis schools taught by USPTA instructors.

For baseball check out the Cape Cod Baseball League and root for the Brewster Whitecaps. Everything is nautical around here. For culture on Sunday evenings in the summer the bandstand offers Cape Rep Theatre, or the Cape Playhouse performances. Museums include the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, the New England Fire and History Museum, and the Brewster Historical Society Museum.

The Oceanedge Resort has teamed up with guides from the Massachusetts Audubon Society for educational beach tidal flat walks along the Bay. Register with the Concierge at the Mansion, or call extension 433 for this free, Thursday morning walk from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m, from late June to late August.

Brewster Culture -

Cape Playhouse - located in Dennis
Offers plays, Hollywood, Broadway, and TV stars; tel: 508/385-3911.

Cape Repertory Theater - Brewster
Entertaining local artists; tel: 508/896-1888.

Harwich Junior Theatre - West Harwich
Cape Cod's Family Theatre, performances and classes; tel: 508/432-2002.

Cape Cod Melody Tent - Hyannis
Music, comedy, children's performances; tel: 508/775-9100

Academy Playhouse - town of Orleans
Popular plays and musicals; tel: 508/255-1896

Other summer programs:

Monday Evening Summer Concert Series.

Tuesday is Sand Castle construction with crafting tools provided.

Wednesday is croquet or bocce, free on the front lawn of the Mansion.

Thursday is a Family Beach Fire with marshmellows.

Friday is beaded hair braiding and face painting.

The Ocean EdgeVenture Program is for children 4-12, with safaris, wacky woodland walks, and turtle tracking, all offered daily. Parents get a break on Parents' Night out—the staff takes care of the kids with pizza and games while you dine at one of the four restaurants.


The Oceanedge Resort's Ocean
Grille is the dining spot for
breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Ocean Grillelocated at the Mansion. I think the restaurant once was an enclosed verandah; can't you see the sea captains gathering for a smoke and a tot while pondering the weather through long, large windows overlooking the bay? Indulge in the Ocean Grille's New England cuisine, local seafood, and dry-aged prime beef with herbs from the in-house herb garden, and an excellent wine list. This is the place for great breakfast and lunch buffets and creative regional American cuisine with seasonal fresh fruits, native seafoods, produce, and homemade stocks. Their wine list has received the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. Seats 96; reservations advised.

At Bayzo's Pub I caught some piano time in the lower level of the Mansion. The Pub is like an old English tavern, serving light fare and spirits. I had a great sandwich with local gossip picked up from the bartender. Live piano is Tuesday through Saturday in the summer; there is also a classic billiards table and large screen TV.


The Linx.

eef caféThe locals have made the Caribbean-styled reef café a popular restaurant and the tourists love it too. You have expansive scenic views of the golf course with poolside patio dining. Tuesday is Clambake Night, and Thursday is Family Night with children entertainment. You can also get hot pizzas and salads delivered to your villa or hotel room. They serve soups, chowders, sandwiches, salads, scallops, sautéed coconut shrimp, oysters (Brewster is known for its oyster aquaculture). Great desserts!

LinxLocated in the Golf Clubhouse — Linx offers al fresco and inside dining over
Brewster Oysters -

There have always been a few native oysters in Brewster waters, but there are few suitable habitats for optimum growth. Oysters like to attach themselves to rocks and other oysters, both of which are limited in the Bay, and winter storms make it harsh for ocean oysters.

In 1996, The Brewster Aquaculture Association began experimenting in growing oysters. Every year their efforts and improving techniques and technologies are expanding the crop. The sea-farmed and raised American Oysters are carefully monitored in the pristine Brewster waters. They are contained in cages firmly anshored against wind, wave, and current. The oysters are protected and bathed in Brewster's plankton-rich waters. Ask for Brewster Oysters next time!

looking the golf course, serving hip cocktails, fresh salads, and grilled entrées, including local seafood and prime meats. In the morning it offers gourmet coffees and oven fresh pastries.

Cape Cod Outdoors

Oceanedge Resort owns a 700-foot-long private beach located on Cape Cod Bay for the Platinum Key guests; I think everyone who stays at the resort is a Platinum Key holder. I walked through the Bay Pine Village tennis courts and out on the weathered gray boardwalks to check out the birdlife on the beach; I hoped to catch glimpses of curlews, oystercatchers, plovers, and kittiwakes, but alas, only the flying rats—gulls! A college student acting as towel boy was studying while on duty at the towel enclave, and I thought you could not find a better summer job. Check the concierge for tide table times for any beach walks.

NICKERSON STATE PARK The ideal spot for family camping, hiking, swimming, biking, or boating. The park encompasses 1,955 square acres and eight freshwater ponds, three stocked year-around. Bike on eight miles of paved paths, or rent a sailboat, canoe, or motorboat. There are 418 campsites along the ponds and in the woods. Reservations: 877/422-6762. Nearby is the Punkhorn Parklands with over 800 acres of preserved parklands that are wilder than Nickerson State Park.

Challenging and Friendly Fairways
At The Captains Golf Course

Schooner Captains would have loved
to golf in this type of weather!

The Captains Golf Course (508/896-5100) is open year around, except in January. The 18-hole course was designed in 1986 by Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva. Club members, residential property owners, and the public are invited to play. Originally built in the late 1920s with nine holes, two more holes were added in 1979, and then it reopened in 1986 to meet PGA championship standards.

It measures 6,665 yards from the championship tees and plays to a par 72 (with a slope of 129), thus making accuracy a premium over distance. Artfully undulated greens, 56 Scottish-style bunkers (half sand and half grass), and five fresh water ponds give each its own personality. Yet, the challenge of the beautifully conditioned fairways are further elevated by tee and pin positions that change daily, as well as gusts of winds (versus steady breezes), which inspire different club selections - and thus different game experiences—each day. In 1998 renovations of holes 1, 8, 19, and 14 were completed.

Landlubbers love this type of weather, along with the Scottish bunkers!

The front nine holes are fairly wide open, more forgiving for golfers with no time to warm up. The back nine is peppered with trees. In either case, hitting the ball slightly offline means hitting bigger numbers. The signature hole is #8, a par 5 of 601 yards with an elevated tee and green. The second shot requires one to get the ball onto a landing area, a feat that is rewarded with an angle to get on the green (the third shot). The #18 finishing hole stars an eye-opening ravine and the will to just get over it.

A recent $1 million facelift to the clubhouse added the Linx Tavern and Bar, in American Craftsman-style, with slate floors, rich mahogany and cream painted wall paneling, wool carpeting, and brass lighting with green and amber glass.

In addition to the clinics and lessons regularly held at the resort, a program is designed for players interested in building, improving, and refining their game. There is a staff of PGA instructors, with a curriculum of full-swing techniques, putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play, and course management. The course has won the Gold Tee Award, Greens of Distinction Award, and Top 100 Women Friendly Award course.

Golf On Cape Cod

Golf On Cape Cod

Golf on Cape Cod Magazine is written for and about the local golfing community who play on the areas 54 private, semi-private and municipal golf courses. It provides a directory golf courses, including directions and maps to help enthusiasts get to each of them.

Book The Oceanedge Resort

Pine Bay Villas is the closest village to the ocean. Below: Get in shape at the cardio center for all the outdoors activities available in the Brewster area!

Arbor Villas offers a Nantucket feeling in 88 one-bedroom units on the 16th hole. Each villa includes a living room, fully-equipped kitchen, bedroom, private bath, and patio or balcony. I stayed in one of the 1-bedroom golf villas, the most distant from the ocean and the Mansion, but there are also two- and three-bedroom units at the nearby Endicott Village. I really enjoyed chatting with the friendly shuttle service crew that transported me back and forth from the woods to the Mansion. The Linx Tavern and Clubhouse and golf pro shop are centrally located, as is the Arbor Pool. Bog Pond and No Bottom Pond are nearby.

Bay Pines Villas offers two and three bedroom fully-furnished guest rooms with residential amenities, full kitchen, microwave oven, washer, dryer, dining and living room, with room service. Bay Pines Villas are nestled below the Mansion, but closer to the water, the closest village to the bay. The closest villas to the water are: Eastham, Falmouth, Gloucester, Harwich, and Ipswich. Other villas include: Chatham, Dennis, Brewster, and Ashumet. The Bay Pine pool and the bike and tennis center are centrally located. The Pavilion room is also in the middle of the villas for all types of functions.

Endicott Village Shares the same area and services as Arbor Village, with similar amenities.

Fletcher Village The Fletcher Village is also on the golf course. You can enjoy the bike and tennis center, basketball, and volleyball.

Britteridge Village Located on the golf course. Similar accommodations to Arbor Villas. Near the Edgeventure Clubhouse and reef cafe. Blueberry pond and Sol's pond are nearby, as well as a tennis center.

The Mansion Accommodations in the Mansion are similar to Bay Pine Villas, both are close to the outdoors pools and golf course. Daily housekeeping is available in all resort accommodations, as well as TV with remote in all units, with two phones, one with voice mail and data ports. Other guest services include laundry, valet, room service, salon and barber, massage spa, concierge, and safe deposit boxes.

Schooner Captains once ate,
and tipped tins of grog here!

Meeting Space Most of the meeting space is in the Mansion and Carriage House and renovated golf clubhouse. In the Carriage House you will find the Samuel Nickerson Room, Addie Nickerson Room, and Roland Nickerson Room. In the Manson you can meet in the Roscommon, Nickerson, LaSalette, Captain Biddle, Captain Bowen, Captain Lawrence, and Captain Cook rooms.

Brewster is an outdoor and fun community and the Oceanedge Resort is a great place to enjoy walking, hiking, golf, tennis, biking, and most of all, relishing the life of a Schooner Captain—but I can't image a Schooner Captain with wobbly sealegs turning into a landlubber golfer playing at par.

By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine. Read the feature about "Sailing Cape Cod's Elbow".