Cape Cod National Seashore and Truro Historical Society Sign 20-Year Lease for Historic Highland House

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Date: February 7, 2017
Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, 508-957-0739

Cape Cod National Seashore Superintendent George Price has announced that the National Park Service and the Truro Historical Society have entered into a 20-year lease for the historic Highland House in Truro. Under the lease, the historical society will continue to manage the former 1907-era hotel as a museum dedicated to Truro history and also preserve and maintain the building.
“We’re elated,” said Price. “The Truro Historical Society has been the building’s only tenant since hotel operations ended in the late 1960s. The society has a proven record of taking care of the building and sharing Truro’s rich history with the public. This 20-year lease provides for long-term protection of a historic resource, and allows the society to invest in its operation.” Susan Howe, President of the Truro Historical Society added, “Signing this new 20-year lease is a wonderful kick-off to the Truro Historical Society's 50th anniversary celebration. The Highland House Museum is the perfect location for our collections, exhibitions, and events. The lease is vital to starting our multi-year restoration project, and we are very grateful to George Price and Sue Moynihan for championing our cause.”
The Highland House is located in the Truro Highlands Historic District at Cape Cod National Seashore. It is one of several cultural resources in the historic district that collectively preserve and share with the public such compelling stories as lighthouses and shipwrecks, historic links golf courses, early tourism to Outer Cape Cod, and the development of Jobi Pottery. The Highland House is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Following Thoreau’s visits and the extension of the railroad into Provincetown in 1873, tourists were drawn to the Highland area. The railroad made Truro and the Highlands easily accessible to more and more people wanting to recreate on the Outer Cape. With an increase in tourism, the construction of large resort hotels began to occur. The Small Family, who had a farmhouse on the property, added a two-story wing to the farmhouse in 1874 and began operating a small hotel. The tourism aspect of the property continued to grow through the addition of cottages, golf links, an indoor bowling alley and pool room, and informal ball field. In 1907 the Small Family built a large new hotel on the property, and named it the Highland House. Between the Highland House, the original hotel, and the cottages, the resort could accommodate over 100 guests at a time. The properties changed ownership many times, eventually being sold to the National Park Service when Cape Cod National Seashore was established in 1961. The resort operated through 1969.
Shortly afterwards, the non-profit Truro Historical Society requested the use of the vacant Highland House for a museum to interpret early Cape Cod tourism, as represented by the historic Highland House, and the history of the Town of Truro. The NPS approved of this arrangement, and since then, the society has operated the museum under agreement and concession contract. The 20-year lease provides adequate time for the society to address significant issues, such as repairing and replacing windows and siding, repairing structural issues, rewiring, improving building accessibility, and upgrading storage areas for the protection of its museum collection.
For more information about the Truro Historical Society and the Highland House, visit

Last updated: February 14, 2017

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