In Falmouth be sure to visit Highfield Hall and Gardens to enjoy art exhibits, gardens, workshops, performances or even just a picnic on the impressive grounds.
The 19th century estate was constructed in 1878 for the Beebe family, heirs to a mercantile fortune. The sprawling grounds, acres of woodland, and lavish buildings were enjoyed by the family until 1932 when the last Beebe died, and the property bounced around to a variety of owners. It was purchased in 1949 by DeWitt TerHeun, a lover of art and theatre who converted the estate as a training ground for student actors. After TerHeun’s death in 1962 the property was slated for residential development, but the plans were held up and fell through. The estate was purchased in 1972 by Josephine and Josiah K Lilly III who gave 400 acres of the Beebe woodlands to the town for preservation, and the buildings and grounds to a local arts organization. Sadly, the Tanglewood building was demolished in 1977 and Highfield Hall spent two decades neglected and subject to vandalism. After a close call with demolition in 1994 the community rallied behind the structure, working to obtain and restore the property to its current glory. The renovations were completed by 2007 when the hall opened for its first full year of operation. Since then, the hall has welcomed over 125,000 visitors.
Visitors can enjoy the grounds from dawn to dusk. The woods have pleasant trails, and the gardens are immaculate and serene. The Sunken Garden replicates the Beebe Family’s original herbaceous garden as documented, and the West Garden was the family’s flower cutting garden. Beebe woods offers 387 acres of land with trails and old carriage roads. The 2012 Beech Tree Path meanders through the stand of beaches planted by the family.
Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for Seniors and Veterans, Free for kids 12 and under, active military, and members.
In addition to the impressive grounds, visitors can enjoy world class concerts, workshops, classes, art exhibits, cultural programs, and more. Current exhibits include Turn the Tide by Courney Mattison, Sea Change: Meditations on Sustainability, and Stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty. Kids and families can enjoy an outdoor scavenger hunt and story walks put on in collaboration with the Falmouth Library Youth Services.
The Highfield Hall Theatre also hosts performances by the College Light Opera Company. The non-profit theatre organization trains up and coming college performers in an 11-week intensive program that produces 9 musicals and operettas. The theatre productions aren’t to be missed and have been Cape favorites for over 50 years! This season’s performances have included The Pirates of Penzance, Very Good Eddie, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Pajama Game, Trouble in Tahiti, The Wizard of Oz, Little Women, The Sorcerer, and The Danger Year.