The Presidential History of Bourne

As anyone with a job, calendar or school-age child knows, President’s Day is right around the corner. While Martha’s Vineyard has been the retreat of choice for every Democratic president since Clinton and Hyannisport is justly famous for its Kennedys, much of the Upper Cape has its own quirky, curious and extensive presidential history. Today, we’re exploring the unexpected and unknown presidential history of the Upper Cape.

Gray Gables

Long before the interstate highway system made getting to Cape Cod as easy as driving over a bridge, Gray Gables and many areas of Bourne were used as the quiet retreat for the rich, famous and powerful. From the stately, Vanderbilt-affiliated mansions on Tobey Island to the various estates dotted throughout Bourne, the town was a destination for many an industrialist. Its presidential history begins in 1891, with the arrival of Grover Cleveland to Gray Gables. He purchased a summer “cottage”, a large home by today’s standards, and chose Bourne as his summer retreat. Cleveland would serve two non-consecutive terms, with much important business and events taking place at Gray Gables. He built a private train station and would move by railroad from Washington D.C. to Bourne. The train station was eventually opened to the public and was preserved, and moved to the Aptucxet Trading Post Grounds in 1976. Gray Gables has the distinction of being considered the “First Summer White House” – with its quiet tree lined streets and sweeping views of Buzzards Bay, you can see why.

Though today’s presidents have moved their summer retreats to the islands, the presidential legacy lives in in Bourne. Cleveland East Ledge Lighthouse, located in the middle of Buzzards Bay and just over the line in Falmouth, is named for Bourne’s most famous summer visitor, and his love of fishing in the area. It is still an important navigational beacon leading to the Canal.

Tour the Footsteps of President Cleveland

Our featured open house this weekend is 199 Presidents Road, a stately home built around the same time as Grover Cleveland’s famed Gray Gables. Built in 1890, right around when President Cleveland finished the expansion of Gray Gables, 199 Presidents Road is a shingle-clad antique carefully renovated to 2014 standards. The newly renovated kitchen features white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and soapstone countertops. The master suite and living room both feature gas fireplaces and the grounds have been kept up to Presidential standards. Located a mere four houses from the site of the original Gray Gables house, the home offers views of the bay and access to the area’s private beaches. Come by and visit Saturday and Sunday from 12-2 PM!

Check out the 199 Presidents Road Photo Gallery

For more images visit the listing on

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