The Hunt is on! The Hillside Tea Room
By Joan Russell Osgood
The original picture, “The Hillside”, that started the “hunt”. Date unknown
It started out innocently enough – a old photograph found in our town archives. It showed a half-Cape with a hand-written notation on it saying: “The Hillside, Sandwich, MA”. We passed it among Friends of Sandwich Town Archives (FOSTA) members to see if we could identify where it was located in Sandwich, thinking it would make an interesting “before & after” article for our website.
It seemed very familiar to some – of course a half-cape would! But none of us could definitely place it. Was it in Jarvesville, Town Center, East Sandwich, South Sandwich? Come on – we should be able to do this – nope, we could not. Of course, we knew that it may have been torn down or moved.
Not wanting to give up, I began digging in the historic Sandwich newspapers owned by our Archives. Sure enough, I came across a 1935 article in The Cape Cod News that I thought might prove to be helpful.
It noted that the Sandwich Women’s Club would hold its’ final meeting of the season at the Hillside Tea Room – noting that it was located at the corner of Tupper Road and the “new State Highway,” and the proprietor was Miss Helen Trout. Could this also be “The Hillside” house we were hunting for?
I heard from some Sandwich friends, Linda Alvezi Crocker, Peter Thomas, Becky Holberton and Bill Chase that they did remember a house once located at the Tupper Road/Route 6A location. But they did not remember a Tea Room run by Helen Trout (1912-1997). And David Currier thought it looked like the house of a school-friend’s family that had lived on Tupper Road.
Sure enough, in looking at the 1880 map of Sandwich there clearly was a house on Tupper Road (called Franklin Street back then) in this location although it is no longer there. It is identified as L. B. Nye’s home. So, at this point it seems reasonable, if not a certainty, that the location of “The Hillside” has been found.
Cape Cod Times 1936 Advertisement
But what about Helen Trout’s Hillside Tea Room? The question remained of whether The Hillside photograph was indeed the same building that Helen Trout may have turned into the Hillside Tea Room in 1930.
Hunting for answers to this Hillside question has brought back memories for me of Helen – she is remembered fondly by many.
She and her siblings, John Jr. and Dorothy were the children of Rev. John Trout and his wife Edith Leavitt Trout.
He was the pastor, of what was called then, the Federated Church on 136 Main St. from 1929 to 1939 and the Trout family lived in the Parsonage provided for their pastor located on 14 School Street.
Little known fact – Linda Alvezi Crocker recalled a path, long gone now and remembered by few, meandering from the backyard of the Parsonage to the rear of the Church, thus shortening the pastor’s walk to and from the Church.
Section of 1880 Map of Sandwich, Franklin St. (Later became Tupper Rd.)
We know from continuing to search newspaper accounts in our Archives, that beginning in the 1930’s Helen was the proprietress of what she named the Hillside Tea Room. From all written accounts it was successful.
I found wonderful articles telling of Helen’s Tea Room hosting wedding receptions, family parties and bridge parties.
The Cape Cod News of 1936 stated: “This place is not only popular with the motoring public but with the local people as well. Many who make trips through [Cape Cod] make it a point to reach the Hillside Tea Room for their breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
The Parsonage, 14 School Street, Sandwich
She also hosted Sandwich artisans, of that time with displays of their work including artist, Jennie Jones and renowned jewelry maker, Hazel Blake French. It seems from what I could find that she ran her Tea Room for about 6-7 years.
In her later years she was the head chef at The Bridge Restaurant. Many will recall this iconic restaurant at the foot of the Sagamore Bridge that was destroyed by fire in 2005. Remember that menu entrée - Helen’s Yankee Pot Roast? It was delicious – right? Well, that was our Helen Trout.
The home shown in 1973 photograph from Massachusetts Historical Commission
Yet, still nothing in our hunt to connect The Hillside and the Hillside Tea Room as one in the same.
Then two things happened almost simultaneously – First, in speaking with Sandwich native, Caddie Ellis Currier, whose family goes back generations in our town, she remembered hearing stories that Helen Trout did have a tea room at the corner of Route 6A and Tupper Road. And then, Lisa Hassler, chairwoman of the Sandwich Historical Commission, sent me conclusive information about “The Hillside” house from the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) database. From it, I learned as follows:
It was built in 1811 by Reverend Levi Nye, a Methodist minister and it was originally located on an early road, Dillingham Lane, which no longer exists. It ran from where the historic Dillingham House on Route 130 is located north to Tupper Road. Rev. Nye’s house was moved sometime before 1857 with its original kitchen fireplace and brick oven intact to the Tupper Road location! Then it passed through various owners over the years. The remainder of the MHC information speaks so remarkably to our Hillside question, that I include it exactly as written:
So yes, the original picture of the house labeled “The Hillside” that started our hunt was indeed located at the corner of Tupper Road and what was to become Route 6A; and it is the same house in which Helen Trout established her Hillside Tea Room! The hunt is over.
Thanks to everyone who helped…it was fun. Sometimes it takes a village.