Built in 1840 as a wedding present for the daughter of clipper ship Captain Norman Howes, it became the first parish house of the “First Congregational Church”, when Captain Howes’ daughter married a minister.
In 1874, the Taylor family from Maine bought the property and started to operate the “Queen Anne Inn”, adding the original, then smaller north wing to the building. The Taylors were the first who actively promoted Chatham and the Cape as a vacation destination.They organized large hunting parties and fishing trips, luring many mainlanders to the outer Cape.
Right after World War I, the Taylors, having no children, sold the place to the Swan family, who then operated the Inn until 1972. The Swans enlarged the north and added the south wing. They gained an excellent reputation and made the “Queen Anne” one of the Cape’s landmarks. The Swan family preserved the original Victorian character of the Inn and did not give in to the styles of the 50’s and 60’s. Unfortunately for them, those decades created the “motel culture” where, unless you could “drive right into your bedroom” and lounge on a Naugahyde couch, the place was not much in demand.
Sold under duress in 1972, the Inn, within a summer season, lost all its remaining clientele and became the “central dormitory” for seasonal workers in Chatham. Very soon the old rambling inn was in a desolate situation.
In 1979, it was saved just in the nick of time when it was bought by Austrian born hotelier Guenther Weinkopf. Over the years, the original Victorian style and ambience was recreated, reflecting the elegant simplicity so much desired by the puritan-oriented lifestyle of the New England Yankees. Some of the antique furniture pieces to be found in the Queen Anne have never left the place in more than 130 years. A few of the braided rugs were actually made by the Inn’s guests in 1918 and 1919.
Today, murals painted by James Parker, a local artist, in the inn’s lounge depict the arrival of Samuel Champlain on Chatham’s shores in 1606. A large etched glass window on the northeastern corner of the inn shows an illustrated map of New England done by a Dutch surveyor in 1680. Many paintings and works of fine art illustrate early life on Cape Cod and its seafaring history. Working fireplaces and large private balconies and patios add to the historic ambience of the individually appointed guests rooms. Modern amenities like Jacuzzis, hot tubs and TVs are tastefully integrated, creating the feeling of entering a time capsule from a century ago.
“Discovered” in the 1980’s by the widow of an American president who used the “Queen Anne” for her private parties at the beginning and end of her summer vacations on Cape Cod, the Inn became very popular and well known without ever losing its understated and simple elegance, which gives the thoughtful and sophisticated traveler a true sense of place.