Friday, September 11, 2009

A History of Old Mill Point

The following history was written by Henry F. Smith in 1963, and excerpted from the OMP Directory printed for the first time that year in honor of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the neighborhood...
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Where the great Elbow of Cape Cod thrusts out into the blue waters of Nantucket Sound at West Harwich, Massachusetts, lies Old Mill Point, a private estate of forty acres, with its own private beach.

A summer on Cape Cod is always appealing. Here, under the influence of the breezes that are tempered by the Gulf Stream, you enjoy a long season. In fact, several of our residents make this their year-round home.

In 1963, Old Mill Point celebrates the 40th anniversary of its founding by William Henry Doble. In his memory, the Directors of the Association felt it would be a fitting occasion to publish a history for the information of its members.

Mr. Doble began his early career in Quincy, Massachusetts. At a young age, he opened a butcher shop and market. He was gifted with an inventive mind, and immediately invented and started the development of a pneumatic scale, late founding and operating the Pneumatic Scale Corporation of Quincy which has branches throughout the United States, Canada and England. In later years, he developed and produced all forms of packaging machinery.

About forty years ago (in the early 1920s) Mr. Doble purchased a summer home on Chase Avenue in West Harwich in the area which is now the Western portion of Old Mill Point. Chase Avenue later became a private way known as Riverway and ceased to be a public street.

Through a succession of conveyances over the years, Mr. Doble was able to acquire what is now known and called Old Mill Point. He later registered the title in the Massachusetts Land Court and subdivided the land into lots.

In the early days, Mr. Doble built several fine residences which were rented annually to his friends and business associates. The log cabin, so-called, formerly known as Thompson's Camp, was acquired by Mr. Doble and renovated into a beautiful residence.

Early on, the Point was known as "Doble's Point." Mr. Doble endeavored to get an authentic Cape Cod Windmill to relocate onto the Point, but was unable to do so. Instead, he constructed the Windmill House, so-called. After its erection in about 1935, Mr. Doble coined the name "Old Mill Point" and formed a Corporation to own and hold the title to all of the area. This Corporation continued until Mr. Doble's death, when it was dissolved.

From 1920 up to about 1929, the foreshore of Old Mill Point was heavily wooded with pine growth. Each year, the sea eroded away the foreshore and the pines tumbled into the ocean. The bank receded up to the Thompson's Camp where the house was endangered of falling into the sea.

At his own expense, Mr. Doble sought and was granted a State and Federal license to build the so-called "long jetty." The stones were brought in and worked into place by a sea-going crane. In spite of the adverse opinion of the State Engineers, Mr. Doble's calculations were correct. The shore was saved. The beautiful beach you enjoy today is the result of his foresight, but most of the trees were lost and never replaced.

The area where Mr. and Mrs. Jason Stearns home is located and the area to the North extending up to the Robbie residence was a very low area in the early days. After the long jetty was built, the beach was restored and much sand accumulated. The sand was then picked up by machinery and brought on to the upland in the area, leveled off and a cover crop planted. Later, the houses were built.

Around 1944, Mr. Doble decided to sell off all of the houses on the Point, except the old homestead now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Greene, which is the oldest house on the Point. Gradually, buyers were approved and conveyances made.

In 1954, after several consultations between Mr. Kendall Doble (son of William H.) and Mr. Smith, the Corporation idea was suggested. Through the wisdom and foresight of the property owners at the time, the Corporation was organized and Mr. Walter J. Sugden became its first President.

All the property owners are given easements to the beaches and the area along the Herring River, but it is only the right to go upon them and use them and enjoy them. The Corporation is composed solely of property owners of Old Mill Point. No other person may be a member of the Corporation. If they cease to own property at the Point, their membership in the Corporation likewise terminates.

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