Located at one of my favorite beaches in New England, the aptly named Coast Guard Beach, the Nauset Coast Guard Station is an imposing Colonial Revival structure perched upon the bluffs providing sweeping views of the shoreline. The Nauset Coast Guard Station was built in 1936 to replace a late nineteenth century Coast Guard Station which had stood further eastward and north, on land which has been eroded away by the ocean. The present structure was reportedly commissioned after Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morganthau Jr. and his fellow picnickers were driven in 1935 by a summer thunderstorm to seek shelter in the old and antiquated Coast Guard Station, built after the Civil War. Construction of the new station was authorized several weeks after this incident as Morganthau, who spent summers on Cape Cod, took a personal interest in the building’s construction, visiting the site during the summer of 1936.
This area of beaches has had a tradition of assistance to shipwrecked sailors. In 1802, the country’s first all volunteer life saving organization, the Massachusetts Humane Society, erected a hut on this beach. It was replaced by a larger one in 1855 and by the Nauset Life Saving Station in 1872. The building was added on to and moved twice before it was replaced by the present structure in 1936. The building was occupied by the Coast Guard as a station until 1958. It now is home to an education center as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore.