Discover Chatham’s History

Posted by Mark Washburn on Sunday, November 6th, 2016 at 7:05pm


chatham lighthouse

While quaint Chatham is a fantastic place to live and visit today, that charm comes centuries in the making. From historic buildings to museums dedicated to the region’s storied past, there is much to discover about Cape Cod simply strolling around Chatham.

Now home to the famed Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Chatham Lighthouse and a walk-able Main Street, generations ago Chatham was remarked as the first place spotted by the Pilgrims. Settled in the 1660s, the town was not officially named for several more decades. It quickly grew, though, into a whaling, fishing and shipping center, while at the same time several buildings went up, turning it into a popular summer season resort town.

Historic Chatham Lighthouse still stands more than two centuries after being established, now on the National Register of Historic Places, while the former keeper’s house now serves as a US Coast Guard station. Meanwhile the Marconi Maritime Center helps tell the story of the impact of wireless communications on Cape Cod, while the Chatham Railroad Museum helps tell more than 100 years worth of stories about the nation’s first commercial rail service.

There are also opportunities to step back in history at places such as the Caleb Nickerson House, where visitors can view an 1820-circa homestead or the Mayo House, open for tours during the summer months showing a traditional Cape Cod-style house.

The only wilderness area of its kind in the region, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge has played a major part in the area since 1970 while charming and walk-able Main Street offers up the chance to take a leisurely stroll through the town’s business district, with self-guided tours and historic site plaques found along the way.

Whether taking in the rich historic architecture of the area or simply getting in touch with nature, where time sometimes seemingly stands still, there is much to discover about Chatham’s history and future along Cape Cod.

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