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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Comments 5

  1. there’s a book written about the history of the island, “Castaways : The Penikese Island Experiment” by George Cadwalader… before it was a leper colony it was used as a Marine Biology Lab. It’s actually hiring teachers and nurses- and plans to reopen in the near future as a school for troubled kids…

    1. I worked on penikese for 6 years. You are making fun of kids who were given the option to go to a lockup facility which provides them with video games and no schooling or work on an island without electricity and try to better themselves.
      Some of them had been so physically and emotionally traumatized at a young age that they were unable to act as “normal” individuals.
      But you calling them lepers is exactly why these kids are marginalized. Fucking funny shit buddy!
      I had personal relationships with many of them and some of the stories are awful.
      Maybe if your mom threw boiling water on you at the age of two months and physically scarred you for life you might have a little empathy.

      1. Dan you might want to read the article more carefully. We are making fun of lepers from 1905 and people of Wal Mart, not once did we make fun of any Penikese school kids. We merely mentioned that is what the island is known for now.

        1. I retract my over the top defense of the modern day school…didn’t see that there was in fact a NEW leper colony type scenario…otherwise known as Wal-Mart. My bad, carry on!

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