The Story Of The Mill Hill Club Is The Story Of Cape Cod – It’s Why We Fight

mill hill

WCAI – The Mill Hill Club holds fond memories for Cape Codders who were regulars during its heyday. Many of them, like Kerry Jason of Yarmouth, turned out on Tuesday morning to watch the building fall to the wrecking crew.

“It’s very sad, actually,” she said. “Yeah, I’m standin’ here lookin’ at it, and it’s crazy to think of all the times that we were here, and snuck in, and everybody was just here to meet another friend or just have fun. Even the parking lot afterwards was just as fun as it was inside all night.”

The site will soon be revitalized as an assisted living facility. And while everyone agrees that the old nightspot needed to be torn down, the Mill Hill Club will live on as a fond memory for its former patrons and employees. The people looking on in the grey drizzle seem like family…gathering one last time to bid farewell to a special place that had one heck of a good run.

I wasn’t going to write about this because honestly, I’ve never been to the Mill Hill, and it seems extremely disingenuous to eulogize something you didn’t know. After the 7,348th email I received from a weeping middle aged dude crying about how sorely missed The Mill Hill will be and how sad of a day yesterday was, I finally read an article about it. This is when I realized that this story is a microcosm of the story of Cape Cod. The Mill Hill, a beloved place that people had fun at and loved, was torn down to make room for a retirement home. Oh the irony.

All of the emails we received had a common thread running through them, they were all stories of hugely fond memories that people who live on The Cape now, developed when they were younger. Many of them were summer people who chose to settle here. These 40 something’s moved to Cape Cod when it was time to settle down because of these memories. This is what people don’t understand, when we rail against The Fun Police, when we advocate night life and the arts and good restaurants and live music, we do it for a reason. When younger people are allowed to enjoy themselves here they develop memories and a fondness for Cape Cod that stays with them forever. When it is time for them to settle down, buy a house and start a family many of them will choose this peninsula because of those memories. As a result Cape Cod won’t lose all of its young people and we don’t have to tear down the Mill Hill Club to make way for a fucking retirement home.

I was interviewed recently by for an article about why The Cape is losing all of its young people. I never shared the article on this website because it was extremely disappointing. I thought someone was finally going to tell our side of the story. I answered the reporter’s questions at length, writing thousands of words on the subject explaining this very theory, his response was to boil my entire interview down to this… “Making the region more fun to visit will ultimately make people think it might be fun to live there, too.”

This is what we are up against. People just don’t get it, and the ones that don’t will always say that we just want to party. They don’t understand that we see a big picture, that there is an actual theory behind our anti-fun police stance. Unfortunately sometimes it seems like they are winning and yesterday was one of those days. We will keep on fighting though, the story of The Mill Hill Club may have come to an end, but there is no way in hell we are going to let the story of Cape Cod have that same ending.

Take back Cape Cod.

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Comments 19

  1. I was raised on the Cape…(born in central Mass)……Graduated from Chatham HS……2 brothers graduated from Harwich…and a sister from the Tech school…..We all left the Cape as adults……my mother who had been there since the 50's left 10 years ago ..Because of your wonderful partying young people who remember the Cape so fondly and bought
    homes there (which led to unrestrained development) …. They came there to change everything about the Cape that we all loved….they want the Cape to be everything like where they came from…..they brought their city ways and their drugs and their spoiled kids who also don't want to be bothered by the "fun police"…..The fact that the Cape has to build another retirement home is because the partiers from the 60's and 70's are now about to retire…..and unfortunately they never went home……

  2. I was raised on The Cape. I graduated from Barnstable High School in 1988. Regrettably with a young family we couldn't afford to stay and left in 2003. I miss it everyday. I miss the beach so much and wish I could move back. I feel like a fish out of water literally.

  3. Young people don't come here anymore because there are to many things for kids to do. They would just be on Facebook or Text friends anyway. The Cape is boring to kids now. the Mill hill was a cool place back in the day. But time goes on and things change.

  4. Your understanding of the problem is seriously limited. This isn't an issue of moving to an area because you had fun there……or moving away because you didn't. I had a Damn good time, and I graduated BHS in 1987. I moved away for the simple fact of economics…..Like the vast majority of people who leave the cape. The cape has two industries that drive the economy. One is construction that requires unchecked growth to make it a feasible career path, and the second is tourism. Tourism floods a lot of money into the cape…..for exactly three months of the year. Then the spigot dries up. That is no basis for a well paid work force establishing a good quality off life across the board. I recognized that quickly, and left in 1991 for a "greener" future. I have never regretted it. I miss the cape, no doubt. I have fond memories of my young years there. But raising children? No thank you. I remember well the 9 months of the year when most everything is shut down and all there is to do is drink and get in trouble.

    The caps problems for sustaining a young vibrant population is one of economics, not one of fun. Fun doesn't pay the bills and finance a proper retirement.

  5. Grew up in Sandusky Ohio and that is a very similar situation. 3 months of the year to make it.

  6. So Joy Ellis moved to a small town in VT. I'm sure the generations of residents there have seen changes in their 'little' town from folks like herself moving in. To quote Joy '"…..The fact that the Cape has to build another retirement home is because the partiers from the 60's and 70's are now about to retire…..and unfortunately they never went home……' the Cape is their home.
    As for Craig Fraser's comments, there is plenty of opportunity on the Cape. Construction and tourism is a fraction of the economy. Town/city municipals (teachers/professors included), health care, tradesmen of all types, retail sales and, of course, the restaurant/bar/tavern/hotel/motel industry is just an example of some of the opportunities available. Unfortunately fishing/shell fishing has dwindled but that was a big reason for people to live on or move to the Cape many years ago as my family did. There are plenty of things for young kids to do in the 'off' season other than drink. I grew up in Chatham and I didn't drink my winters away – primarily because I was too busy playing ice hockey, bike riding, skateboarding, swimming and just being a kid. Oh, I also went to school in the 'off' season so I styed pretty busy.
    Thanks to the US Air Force, I traveled to many parts of the world and I was happy to return to the Cape. I still believe it is a great place to raise a family. Point is, we're not dead yet so we do want to be able to go out and have fun now and then. Supporting local entertainment is key to this and it helps support our communities.
    You can't stop change but you can embrace it and learn how it can make your life better.

  7. Louis, your knowledge of economy is lacking. In order to support a vibrant economy, the base had to include some form of industry, none of the jobs you listed are money producing jobs. In other words, those jobs nice money around the cape. They do not being money onto the cape. Those do not provide a way for the cape to grow economically. The cape has no industry, other than tourism and construction to speak of. Just because you can find a job, died not mean the cape is providing a secure and prosperous future for the majority of its citizens. The fact is, the cape has bleak job prospects for young people. You want to wait tables? Have fun making good money in the summer, and spending the next nine months scraping by. How many people can be a police officers our elected officials? Not enough for good employment. Teachers? Very few. In the end, an economy must have a way of bringing money in, not just stirring the pot. The cape is lacking in that.

  8. I see what you're saying Craig but I guess I look at or see things differently or maybe I don't understand the economy as well as yourself. I know year round bartenders who make 80k, electricians and plumbers (non union) 100k+ as well as a friend in IT at Cape Cod Hospital – 90k. I guess most of the peeps in my group are fortunate although I know how things can be working at a kiosk in the mall.
    So tell me, what is the primary industry in Surgar Land, TX? Is an Official arm pit smeller at Old Spice a lucrative job? So tourism does stimulate the economy on the Cape but I'm not sure I would consider it 'industry'. It is an industry that helps make everything work. I guess the 'bringing money in' is where I gest lost.

  9. Sugar Land is a suburb of Houston. Houston, has three major industries: oil and gas, nasa space engineers, and the largest concentration of doctors on earth. This area is a pioneer in the cancer and heart surgery world, where fold cine from every corner of the globe for treatment. An economy had to have money from the outside coming in, our it fails. Maybe not collapse, but it certainly well not grow. It will stagnate. The cape is a stagnate economy for the most part. Tourism is considered by most to be an industry for the very reason that it brings money into an economy. There are good paying jobs on the cape, of course. But in scale there is more unemployment, and more under employment by FAR on cape than in many other areas, including where I live now. I don't work in any of three industries I listed, but because of the money that floods into Houston keeping the economy vibrant, I make more money than I could ever have dreamt of if I remained on the cape.

  10. I need to not type so much on my phone. My apologies for the myriad of spelling and grammar mistakes. I assure you it is an issue if auto correct, and difficulty in reading the screen. Not ignorance….At least I like to think it isn't.

  11. Well you must have a good sense of humor if you follow The Real Cape:)
    Out of curiosity, what do you do?

  12. In my current job, I am in the customer service industry. The services I provide are very customer specific, so my job varies almost daily.

  13. Just to hop into your thread here- in a way you are certainly correct about the economy Craig, in other you are wrong to downplay the view of The Real Cape. I also grew up on Cape Cod and returned in my early 30's- after a professional sales career in downtown Boston- precisely because of the awesome memories I had of my fun Cape summers, bonfires and beach parties on the beach, etc. This is what drove me as a college educated professional to return to the Cape, start a business, and raise a family- precisely what the Cape needs. Take away the fun that created the memories, and I would have stayed in Boston. No there are not great corporate jobs drawing you back- it is the love of the lifestyle (which needs to be protected) that holds the allure.

  14. Well said Craig. I'm always trying to get back to the Cape but always find myself out of work (marketing / business development). My biggest problem with the place is that most of the business owners here during the peak tourism surge don't live here year round.

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