“If you want the cannon, come and get it then, and we will give you what’s in them first.”
Falmouth Artillery Commander Weston Jenkins, to the captain of the HMS Nimrod.
The year was 1956. Falmouth area residents were abuzz as the new Nimrod club was scheduled to reopen in late spring, just in time for the busy summer season.
The new owners, George F. Allen and McLean Grant, were Air Force men who had recently retired from the military. Both men had been looking for the perfect spot to open a restaurant/club. The property on Dillingham Avenue fit the bill perfectly.
It had been owned by Henry J. Walsh, who renovated it as a residential hotel, opening in 1946 as the Boxwood Club. Years later it was leased by John A. Riley, who after acquiring a liquor license was able to run the club year-round.
Allen and Grant renamed the dwelling the Nimrod after the HMS Nimrod, one of the most-feared British ships that sailed off the New England coast during the War of 1812.
The ship’s mission was to destroy the American patriots who had hate and disdain for the king and Britain. During the war, Cape Cod experienced firsthand British aggression. The Cape ports were blockaded by the British. The Falmouth artillery company routinely fired at the British ships lurking in Vineyard Sound.
On a frigid day on January 28, 1814, the Falmouth militia heeded a warning of a possible attack. They sent the women and children away as the militia waited in trenches by the Old Dock Harbor along Surf Drive Beach. Over 300 cannonballs ripped through the cold, dark sky that night, hitting many homes and the Elm Arch Inn, Shoreway Acres, the former Farnum home on Thomas Lane, and the Nimrod, which originally stood on what today is Shore Street. Eventually it was moved completely intact to Dillingham Avenue.
One cannot negate the strength and courage of the Falmouth patriots who bravely fought off the British that cold January day over 200 years ago. There was not one militia death during that brutal attack, thanks to the courage and strength of these Cape Codders.
The Nimrod stood tall during the fight despite taking a hit from a cannonball. The hole in the wall remained throughout its history. Over the years there were repairs and renovations made to the structure; the original wall ended up in the men’s room. The hole in the wall was always a curiosity. When patrons inquired about it, they all loved to hear the story of how it got there. It remained until this past year, when the historical landmark was taken down.
The Nimrod restaurant evokes so many wonderful memories for many Falmouth residents and visitors that spent time there.
According to the Falmouth Enterprise in May 1962, it always was a lively place in town; the Bridge Club was meeting on Tuesday evenings, the Coast Guard wives were having their annual banquet and Donald VanWart was back at the piano every Saturday night.
As the years went on there were anniversary parties, rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. So many fond milestones so many Falmouth families celebrated there. Very sad we lost this amazing piece of Falmouth’s history. The remarkable story of your history will live on.
Farewell, Nimrod, you will be missed…
In my last article I would like to thank Paul Tressler for the beautiful photograph of the osprey.
Nancy August is a lifelong summer resident of Falmouth as were her parents and grandparents before her. Her production company is Summer Girl Media. Please visit the “Tales of a Summer House” Facebook page.