Orleans Historical Society and Museum
ocated in Orleans on the road to Nauset Beach, this local history museum offers exhibits, artifacts, and rare books and documents that preserve and share the history of Cape Cod. Highlights of the museum include artifacts related to maritime history and local residents and organizations as well as photographs and documents. The museum and headquarters of the Orleans Historical Society are located in the historic 1834 Orleans Meeting House which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The organization offers seasonal exhibits, lectures and events in addition to maintaining permanent exhibits and assistance for researchers and genealogists. The organizations is also the custodian of the historic Motor Lifeboat CG36500, featured in the Disney film, The Finest Hours. This historic craft is berthed at Rock Harbor throughout the summer.
Backstory and Context
The Society has a collection covering genealogical information, diaries, deeds, 19th and 20th century photos, artwork by local artists, special collections focusing on Orleans families and individuals, ships' logs, Native American artifacts, and other items relating to the history of Orleans and its citizens.
Restored, owned and operated by the Orleans Historical Society, the original CG36500 is a Gold Medal boat made famous by its crew of four in the February 18th, 1952 rescue of 32 survivors of the ill-fated tanker Pendleton, during a tremendous 70 knot northeasterly storm. The four Coasties took 36500 out in this wild storm in what seemed an impossible mission. They returned to the Chatham Station with 32 rescued crewmen. All four Coast Guard crewmen received the Gold Life Saving Medal for getting to the broken tanker under almost impossible conditions and heroically rescuing the 32 crewmen from the Pendleton.