Dunbar House In History
The site now occupied by the Dunbar House, (shown above) on a low hill overlooking Shawme Pond, (on right) close to a fresh water spring (still gushing forth) and a grist mill was a favored one from the time the first European settlers moved onto the Cape in the 1630s.
John Dillingham, one of the founding fathers of the town, built the first house here in 1650 but by 1740 his descendants had moved the whole house down the street (still standing at 71 Main Street) and built a much grander house in its place.
During these 250 plus years, the Dunbar House has been in the ownership of only five families. The Dillinghams owned the house until the 1860s and appear on many of the gravestones in the old town burial ground. In the 1860s the Chapouils bought the house.
Anthony Chapouil worked for many years as an accountant at the Boston & Sandwich Glass works until it ceased operations at the turn of the century, and his brother was grandfather to Sandwich’s famous children’s author, Thornton Burgess. During the infamous Portland Nor’Easter of 1898, the house had to be evacuated because the steeple next door was leaning at precarious angles and threatened to impale the house.
In the 1920s, Colonel Henry Dunbar bought the house so he could be close to his supervision of the widening of the Cape Cod Canal. They added the carriage house, a billiard room, tennis court and planted wonderful landscaped rose gardens. During these years Mrs. Dunbar established the tradition of hosting teas.
The town of Sandwich bought the property in 1974, and the house was returned to private ownership when it was bought by the Bells in the early 1990s. In the spring of 2000, Jim and Paula Hegarty of Milton, Massachusetts moved into the Dunbar House and embarked on a project to restore the home to its colonial grandeur.
In the process they have maintained the traditions of Mrs. Dunbar by providing a comforting atmosphere in the adjacent Tea Room. There, in a beautiful wood paneled room that was formerly a gentleman’s billiard and smoking room, you now hear the clink of tea cups instead of billiard balls and smell the home baked aromas of pies, cakes, shortbreads and scones.
In addition to afternoon teas, the Hegartys provide a wide variety of gourmet British fare. Lunch and tea can also be enjoyed in the relaxed setting of the new enchanting Tea Garden Room with its beautiful views. Both rooms are available for private functions. Complete your visit to Cape Cod and the village of Sandwich by enjoying a unique experience at the Dunbar Tea Shop and Tea Room.