Postcards from Falmouth: Falmouth Schools

Rites of passage, secret passages, iconic teachers. Let Jim Kalperis and Otis Porter take you on a tour through the history of Falmouth’s schools, from tiny Lawrence Academy to the much newer facilities of Falmouth High School. In conversation with Barbara Kanellopoulos, they recount staff and student stories, and the many transitions that shaped Falmouth’s public school system.

Former faculty member Jim Kalperis remembers that one of those transitions, from the old Lawrence High School to its successor on Lakeview Avenue, was accomplished with a bit of student legwork. “The students all assembled in the old high school,” he says, “and whatever they could bring and carry by hand, they all marched from that school over to the new Lawrence School.” Library staff and visitors now park where the old building stood, and the high school has moved on again – not once but twice.

Watch the oral history recording here.

Explore the postcard collection here.

Postcards from Falmouth: Falmouth Heights

Before it hosted iconic hotels and streams of summer visitors, Falmouth Heights was the remote edge of town. Join Valerie Harding to learn about its deliberate transformation into a summer resort at the hands of the Falmouth Heights Land and Wharf Company – and of her own memories of off season life in the Heights, which might not have been picture-perfect, but provided its own kind of fun.

“In the winter when those hotels were closed up, as kids you’d run across the veranda and it looked very ghostly inside,” she said in conversation with interviewer Troy Clarkson. “With the table still set up, you know, with salt and pepper still on the table […] there was not a light on in any house down there.”

Watch the oral history recording here.

Explore the postcard collection here.

Postcards from Falmouth is a local history project of Falmouth Public Library, funded by a LSTA grant and administered by the MBLC.

YT link:

Postcards from Falmouth

The traditions, stories, and hard work of Cape Verdean immigrants are deeply embedded in Falmouth’s history. Join Barbara Burgo, co-founder and Board member of the Cape Cod Cape Verdean Museum and Cultural Center, as she discusses ongoing efforts to preserve that history, and to foster the connections between Cape Verde and Cape Cod.

She emphasizes that those connections stretch simultaneously across the Atlantic, and across time.  The Museum and Cultural Center, which occupies the historic Emerald farmhouse in East Falmouth, was created to embody that fact. “If you went there to see so many of the valuable resources and gifts our folks have been giving to America for over 200 years […],” she says, “you would realize that we are so much more than cranberry pickers.”

Watch the oral history recording here.

Explore the postcard collection here.

Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Past Digital Exhibit

In 2023 Calliope Poetry for Community extended an invitation to the public to immerse themselves in the images and messages carefully preserved within the Falmouth Public Library’s collection of postcards. These postcards, dating back to the early 1900s, offer us glimpses into the town’s history, portraying the various villages of Falmouth in bygone eras.

They serve as our very own time machines, transporting us to the past and allowing us to reconnect with the individuals who penned those messages long ago. With each card comes a unique story, a reflection of a moment frozen in time, complete with the personalities, quirks, and humor of the people who once called Falmouth home.

The heart of this project, Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Past, lies in the ability of our literary and visual artists to draw inspiration from these postcards, breathing new life into their stories. They have taken on the incredible task of not only reflecting on but also reimagining the images and messages contained within these postcards. In doing so, they have created a bridge between the past and present, enabling us to witness the fascinating contrast between the Falmouth of yesteryears and the Falmouth we know today. Explore our digital version of this exhibit today, or make sure to make an appointment to see it at the Cultural Center at Museums on the Green through May 10, 2024.

Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Past

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the library is hosting part of the Wish You Were Here: Postcards From the Past project led by Calliope Poetry for Community. This project is funded, in part, from a grant by the Falmouth Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. Read on for descriptions of the kickoff event which will include a poetry reading and a presentation of postcards from Falmouth Public Library Historical Postcard Collection, plus two poetry writing workshops, one for adults and one for teens.

A Postcard Presentation & Poetry Reading with Alice Kociemba & Jennifer Rose

Saturday, April 1, 2023, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Hermann Foundation Room, Falmouth Public Library Register

Alice Kociemba, the founding director of Calliope Poetry for Community, will present a slide show of a curated selection from the historical postcard collection of the Falmouth Public Library and describe the goals of the project: Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Past. She will issue an invitation to Falmouth residents to use these postcards to interpret the story of Falmouth’s past and present by creating new literary and visual art that respond to the postcard collection.

Jennifer Rose will read a selection of her postcard poems from Hometown for an Hour, and will describe the process of crafting postcard poems that create through their brevity an immediate connection to a specific place. A discussion with the audience will follow her reading.  “Rich in imagery, deftly crafted, and imbued with a lightness of voice, these poems are also postmarked from poetry’s more familiar provinces of love, nature, and loss.” (Hometown for an Hour).

In the Q & A with the audience, Alice and Jennifer will describe ways to use these postcards as inspiration for writing a new prose or narrative poems of 100 words or fewer. In addition to using the postcards as writing prompts, these postcards are an invitation to capture through photographing the “now” of how Falmouth has changed, as well as what remains essential to the unique character of Falmouth. 

Alice Kociemba is a co-editor of From the Farther Shore: Discovering Cape Cod and the Islands Through Poetry (Bass River Press, 2021). She is the author of the poetry collection, Bourne Bridge (Turning Point, 2016). For eleven years, Alice facilitated a monthly poetry discussion group at the Falmouth Public Library and she was guest editor of Common Threads, the poetry discussion project of Mass Poetry (2015 & 2016). Alice lives in North Falmouth, with her husband, Rich Youmans. 

Jennifer Rose is the author of two poetry collections, The Old Direction of Heaven (Truman State University Press, 2000) and Hometown for an Hour (Ohio University Press, 2006)A Chicago-area native, Jennifer first visited the Outer Cape in 1970, at age 11. Its landscape— especially the bay—has inspired her ever since. She lives in Waltham, Massachusetts. 


Bringing the Past to Life: A Poetry Writing Workshop with Robin Smith-Johnson

Thursday, April 13, 2023, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Bay Room, Falmouth Public Library Register

Robin Smith-Johnson will lead a poetry workshop on elements of writing brief poems (100 words or fewer) that respond to a selection of the  Falmouth Public Library’s historical postcard collection. In addition to presenting aspects of crafting ekphrastic poems, i.e., poems that respond to another art form, Robin will also describe how to bring history to life through poetry.

Robin Smith-Johnson is a co-editor of From the Farther Shore: Discovering Cape Cod and the Islands Through Poetry (Bass River Press, 2021) and has published two collections of poetry: Dream of the Antique Dealer’s Daughter (Word Poetry, 2013) and Gale Warnings (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Robin is also the author of two books on Cape Cod history: Cape Cod Curiosities (The History Press, 2019) and Legends and Lore of Cape Cod (The History Press, 2016). She is a co-founder of the Steeple Street Poets of Cape Cod and  currently teaches writing at Cape Cod Community College. 


Through Our Own Eyes: A Poetry Writing Workshop for Teens, with David R. Surette

Thursday, April 20, 2023, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., Teen Room, Falmouth Public Library Register

Poet David Surette, a high school English teacher and educator for more than 30 years, will lead a workshop on how to write brief, descriptive narrative poems that capture a specific sense of place and time in a writer’s life. Many of David’s own poems are set in his hometown and distill the poignancy of growing up in a tight-knit community. Using prompts and providing examples of successful poems that capture a young person’s perspective, David knows how to make the writing of poetry an enjoyable experience.  All teens interested in expressing what they uniquely understand about Falmouth would benefit from this workshop.

David R. Surettea recently retired public-school teacher and hockey couch, is the author of seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Tonic (forthcoming from Moon Pie Press, Spring 2023). His previous books include Malden (Moon Pie Press, 2018) and Stable (Moon Pie Press, 2015), the latter of which was named an Honor Book at the 2015 Massachusetts Book Awards. He lives on Cape Cod. 


Help us identify Postcards from Falmouth

Our newest postcard collection at the library includes a few cards none of the staff could identify. So we asked our followers on the Postcards from Falmouth Instagram account, and the Library’s Facebook page, to help us out!

Wow, we were so impressed with the local knowledge! One postcard was correctly identified only four minutes after being posted, and in several cases, we got a lot of history of home ownership and memories of being at the places depicted. Falmouth people really love and know this town. Thanks for your help identifying these places!


Unfortunately, we still have a few places that we couldn’t get consensus on. We are still welcoming your suggestions for these images: do you know these places?

Card 0177 (click to enlarge):

Card 0178 (we think a second view of the same house? click to enlarge)

Card 0181 (click to enlarge):

If you can identify one of these mystery postcards, leave a comment and let us know!


Postcards from Falmouth: The College Light Opera Company

The College Light Opera Company, Falmouth’s historic summer stock theatre company, is in the midst of its 2022 season. Its deep roots connect it to some of the biggest names in Falmouth history, and its company members carry those roots with them as they strike out into the performing arts world.

Join Executive and Creative Director Mark Pearson for a look into that shared history and the connections that grew from it. “The original intent was more entertainment,” he says, “but our mission has sort of shifted over the years as we became one of the last organizations to do this—to really focus on the educational aspect.”

See the CLOC digital exhibit here.

Explore the postcard collection online here.

Postcards from Falmouth is a local history project of Falmouth Public Library, funded by a LSTA grant and administered by the MBLC.

Postcards from Falmouth: Falmouth Public Library

If you’ve ever wanted a firsthand account of how FPL acquired our historic postcard collection, look no further than this oral history with Library Director Linda Collins. She charts the library’s route from the Falmouth Library Society of 1792 to the FPL of today, a place where you can dive into whalers’ logbooks, play Giant Jenga, borrow a sewing machine, and, of course, browse thousands of postcards online.

“The library appropriation is only 1.5% of the town budget,” she says. “It is a real deal for the residents of Falmouth […] there’s truly something for everyone.”

Visit the Falmouth Public Library digital exhibit here.

Postcards from Falmouth is a local history project of Falmouth Public Library, funded by a LSTA grant and administered by the MBLC.

Postcards from Falmouth: St. Barnabas Church

By any measure, St. Barnabas Church is distinct. Reverend Will Mebane, Jr. recounts the history of its founding: how the Beebe family pushed to establish the parish, and chose Gothic Revivalist architect Henry Vaughan to build a church unlike any other in Falmouth. 

“We like to be known as the parish of the community,” he says, “so we are constantly opening our doors and welcoming nonprofit organizations and other entities to use our beautiful campus.” In the summer months especially, that campus is a hub of activity – for example, did you know that the 70th annual Strawberry Festival was celebrated this June? 

Explore the oral history and digital exhibit, and learn for yourself how St. Barnabas became part of the fabric of Falmouth’s community!

See our Saint Barnabas Church digital exhibit here.

Explore the postcard collection online here.

Postcards from Falmouth is a local history project of Falmouth Public Library, funded by a LSTA grant and administered by the MBLC.

Postcards from Falmouth: West Falmouth Library

The West Falmouth Library is a resource built by and for its community. From its humble beginning as a club for sharing books and cultural education, it grew into a well-loved non-profit whose programs and fundraisers draw audiences year after year. Check out our oral history interview with Charlie McCaffrey, former president of the Library Board, to learn about the way those outreach efforts are guided by the library’s philosophy.


“When the library was built in 1895, the main building had two rooms of approximate equal size,” he says. “One had the books, and the other was a community room […]. It was built as much as a community center and gathering place as a place for borrowing books.”

Visit the West Falmouth Library with Charlie McCaffrey here.

Explore the postcard collection online here.

Postcards from Falmouth is a local history project of Falmouth Public Library, funded by a LSTA grant and administered by the MBLC.