Today On Cape Cod In 1905 – Leper Colony Grand Opening!


CCT – On this day in 1905, five lepers arrived on Penikese Island in Buzzard’s Bay, the site of the first and only leprosarium in Massachusetts. Over the next 16 years, 36 victims of leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, lived on the isolated island, along with a handful of caregivers.

Dr. Frank Parker and his wife, Marion, went to great lengths to make the patients comfortable, providing good food, fresh air, exercise, entertainment, and nursing, but it was nearly impossible to overcome the stigma and social ostracism associated with leprosy.

Most of us know The Elizabeth Island of Penikese as the home of a school for troubled youth, but who knew that before that we used to have ourselves a bona fide leper colony here on Cape Cod?

Imagine the life of a leper in 1905. How sad it must have been, to be seen as a mutant and ostracized from society. Being gawked at whenever you are seen in public. Only having one place to go where you feel comfortable because you are among all the other freaks of society.

The Penikese leper colony closed after 16 years in 1921 and it took about another 80 years, but finally another was built nearby in Falmouth here on The Cape. This modern day leper colony is much more progressive. It gives the dregs of society a chance to actually interact with regular people.

It’s good to know that we have progressed here on The Cape to the point where we now intermingle with the modern day lepers of our society. It is a great sign of humanity that right here on Cape Cod we have a place where the vagrants can not only be among themselves but also feel like they are part of society. It is truly heart warming that we, the normals, now feel comfortable among the wretches. It may get a bad rap sometimes but I for one support Cape Cod’s modern day leper colony (pictured below).


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