South Harwich boasts Red River Beach, the largest beach in the Harwiches. It has jetties for fishing and acres of sand for sunning and swimming in lovely Nantucket Sound. In the off-season parking is plentiful, joggers lope along the macadam lot, and dogs frolic on the beach. But it is in Summer that it really comes alive with families and children and kites and brightly colored umbrellas.
If it's history you're after, there's the handsome South Harwich Meetinghouse. Built in 1836, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The second oldest Methodist Church on Cape Cod, it was built at a cost of $1400 and featured separate entrances for men and women. Purchased by the Town of Harwich in the late 1990s, it is currently being refurbished by a local group which seeks to restore and maintain it as a "center for the arts, education and community enrichment." The old South Harwich School still stands on Old Country Road, but hasn't functioned as a school for many years. Once used to house employees of the bygone Belmont Hotel, more recently it has been a boarding house.
For fine birding and a leisurely walk, try the Hacker Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Harwich Conservation Trust. It comprises almost nine acres of wooded pond shore abutting the Cape Cod Rail Trail at mile marker "4." Visitors are asked to leave their bikes and walk in.
Skinequit Pond, a l5 acre kettle pond near Route 28, has heron, osprey, painted and box turtles, and plenty of fish. One corner of it features a herring run.
South Harwich has little commercial development and has maintained its residential character. Once it was home to light industry: the Red River Ice Plant which sold ice across the Lower Cape, the Hannah Stokes Overall Factory (founded 1865), a fish processing plant, a cotton and woolen factory, the Nickerson Salt Works, and the Kendrick Barrel Factory which made cranberry crates and fish boxes. A fire destroyed the barrel factory in the 1950s and its owners moved the business to East Harwich where it became The Cooperage and remains open today.
For more information contact the Brooks Academy Museum (508) 432-8089 or the Brooks Library (508) 430-7562.
For accommodations contact the Harwich Chamber of Commerce (508) 432-1600.
Harwich Historical Society