Cape Cod has its fair share of folklore and stories. The Jenny Lind Tower in North Truro, for example, may have the most complexities and linked storylines of any of them. Jenny Lind, sometimes known as the “Swedish Nightingale,” was a Swedish opera singer. She was one of the most well-known singers of the nineteenth century, appearing in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and throughout Europe. She also completed a hugely successful concert tour of the United States in 1850. Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Matthew Brady, and Abraham Lincoln were all connected to Lind. P. T. Barnum was Lind’s publicist.
The tower, which resembles a castle’s battlement, was originally part of the Fitchburg Railroad depot in Boston. The depot was purchased by the Boston and Maine Railroad in 1900. Jenny Lind performed in the station’s auditorium in 1850 and the show was sold out which led to many people being turned away. She had to cut her performance short due to a stampede of admirers trying to see her. Lind is said to have scaled the tower of the depot to appear in front of the fans in order to prevent a riot.
The depot where Lind had performed was being demolished in 1927, two years after a devastating fire destroyed part of it. Henry M. Aldrich, a lawyer, worked with the railroad corporation to acquire the tower. He dismantled it and transferred it to a hundred-acre plot of property in North Truro, Massachusetts, which he purchased from Mort Small. The tower took more than two months to complete and required the work of five men. Aldrich also built five cottages on the property but provided no explanation for the tower’s construction.
There are many theories as to why the tower was purchased by Henry Aldrich and moved to the Truro location. One of the most common beliefs is that Henry had seen Lind perform from the tower in Boston and he wanted to own the piece of Jenny Lind history. This is not true considering Henry was born in 1867 and Lind performed in 1850. That said, maybe someone in Aldrich’s family saw the performance and/or was a super fan of Lind. The most likely reason for the tower’s existence is because Henry and his father were both lawyers for the Fitchburg Railroad and they wanted to own a piece of the railroad’s history. The tower was probably moved to the location because of the family’s association with the railroad.
The tower’s deed was presented by Aldrich’s daughter-in-law to the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961. The tower has no access routes, though it is close to a road that leads to a Federal Aviation Administration radar site on former North Truro Air Force Station grounds.
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- Year Established: 1845 (Current location 1927)
- Year Abandoned: 1961
- Original Function: Originally part of the Fitchburg Railroad depot in Boston. It was moved to Cape Cod and functioned as a personal tower on Henry Aldrich’s estate.
- Address: 29 Old Dewline Rd
- Town: North Truro
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: Lat 42.0345 Lng -70.05525
- Parking notes: There are about a dozen parking spots located close to the air force base entrance. Additional parking can be found outside the base on the entry road.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE