The History of Our Site


The Barn Through the Years

The Barn c. 1960
The Barn before Cape Rep’s residency C. 1980

The Crosby family, beginning with Tully Crosby, is one of the founding families of the town of Brewster, Massachusetts. By blood and by marriage, the Crosby and Nickerson families together gave the entire eastern portion of the Town of Brewster its cultural and economic identity.

Patriarch Nathan Crosby’s homestead comprised not only the site currently occupied by Cape Rep, but also the site we know as the “Crosby Mansion”, which is now owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and leased to the Town of Brewster. Nathan Crosby’s sons, Nathan Jr. and Isaac, and their sons Albert and Isaac F. respectively, engaged in business together as merchants and importers.

In the late 19th century, Isaac F. Crosby and his wife, Sarah, were the last of the Crosbys to occupy the site; their home was what we now call the Cape House, the yellow house at the entry of our campus. In 1889, newspapers ran notices of his activities, including the building of a state-of-the-art stable for his champion trotting horses and a complete renovation of the homestead. He hired the construction firm of John Hinckley for this work, the same firm hired by his cousin Albert to build the Crosby Mansion. Newspaper accounts also take regular note of the successes and failures of Isaac’s horses at the Barnstable Fairground races. Brewster assessor records reflect a steady accumulation of wealth, horses, buildings, real estate and personal property.

But the late 1890s were a watershed for the entire Crosby family in East Brewster. Both Albert and Isaac were caught in the economic problems caused by the depression in the late 1890s. Isaac’s real estate passed out of family hands in the early 20th century to satisfy debts, first to resort speculators and then, a short time later, to the founders of Camp Monomoy.

The Robert Delahanty family purchased the property in 1926 and established Camp Monomoy. The Cape House was occupied by camp counselors but also let out to various other enterprises including a restaurant and a jewelry store. Camp Monomoy moved the Barn to its current location in the 1920s for use as a commissary, for arts and crafts, to show movies and to stage theatrical productions.

The descendants of the Delahantys, now owners of the remaining camp property known as the Cape Cod Sea Camps, have an extensive photographic collection of Camp Monomoy, its activities, its generations of young campers, and the structures on the property.
In 1983, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Camp owners agreed to a friendly eminent domain agreement. The buildings and grounds passed into the public domain and were annexed into Nickerson State Park. The site remained dormant until Cape Rep submitted a successful proposal in 1991-92 to rehabilitate several former camp buildings into a performing arts center.

Cape Rep was founded by Robert R. Troie in 1986 and had several nomadic years before finding this site to call home, and in 1994 we signed a long-term lease with the Commonwealth. By the terms of the lease, Cape Rep is bound to rehabilitate, preserve and protect the four structures on the 7.5 acres of land on the site. We embrace being stewards of this historic property within Nickerson State Park and believe the preservation of these historic structures is an important and exciting part of our mission.

Our first restoration project, in 1992, was renovating the Camp Chapel into our Outdoor Theater, Cape Cod’s only outside theater. In 1997, we opened the Indoor Theater in what had been the Camp’s Dining Hall. After three years of community fundraising that totaled $670,000, in 2010 we restored the historic Crosby Cape House, the gateway to our campus, which serves as housing for both local and visiting artists and has a much-needed community room where we can be found working, rehearsing, performing and teaching classes in acting, directing and playwriting.

Cape Rep currently uses The Barn to store our theatrical assets, including platforms, flats, scenery and props. When THE NEXT STAGE is completed, we will have created a dynamic new multi-purpose performance space theater space, preserved a very special historic structure, and fulfilled our commitment to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in our role as custodians of this unique and beautiful arts campus.

  • Ox Cart
  • Camp Monomoy c. 1944
  • Detail of Barn trim
  • The Barn c. 2018
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