Evelyn Doane - William Raveis Real Estate - Cape Cod

Some Great Things to See and Do in Chatham

Enjoying our town is much more than going to the beach and strolling down Main Street!  There are so many places to see with historic importance as well as some good places to walk and hike.

Chatham Fish Pier
Chatham is noted as being a fishing village and many of our year round residents earn their living by fishing, shell fishing and allied occupations. While in Chatham, you MUST go the Fish Pier on the corner of Shore Road and Barcliff Avenue and watch the fleet come in with the day’s catch somewhere between noon and 3 p.m., depending on the tides.  Please park only in the upper lot and do take some pictures of the catch…and the ever attendant seagulls!  What do the fisherman catch when they go from 3 to 25 miles off shore?  Of course they catch cod!...but also flounder, dogfish, lobster, halibut and pollock, bluefish and sometimes tuna.  Tuna season is a real bonus time for some lucky fishermen!  There are people from the Japanese market waiting for the tuna boats to come in and the first thing done is a test of the amount of fat the tuna has.  This is done by cutting a piece of the fish above the tail.  A fish with the desirable amount of fat is greatly prized in the Japanese market…and paid for accordingly!  In only 24 hours, our Chatham tuna may be enjoyed as sashimi in a restaurant in Tokyo!  While refrigerated trucks are waiting to take the fish to major cities, we can enjoy this wonderful feast here in our local restaurants!  Now if this is making you envious of all the fun our hard working fishermen are having, please look on the right side of the home page of my website under charter fishing boats…and you too can be out there fishing!  Striped bass and tuna seem to be the popular quests.  A real bonus of this is the common but awe inspiring sightings of whales very near the fishing boats!

Fisherman’s Monument
When you are visiting the Fish Pier, do notice the Fishermen’s Monument in honor of our proud and independent fishermen and women.  In 1992 after an international competition, the entry of Sig Purwin of Woods Hole was chosen by the fishing community.  The sculpture entitled “The Provider” shows a strong hand pulling a net filled with all the various species of fish and shellfish that make our area famous for the best fish on the Atlantic Coast! 

Chatham Lighthouse
Our lighthouse has a long history of helping sailors avoid the treacherous Chatham Bars and still functions as well as being a scenic attraction at the end of Main Street overlooking Pleasant Bay, North Beach and the ocean beyond.  There is parking overlooking the beach and our now famous break in the beach which occurred in 1986.  The sands are ever shifting there and the break moves constantly, making navigation through it a challenge.  The Coast Guard is an important presence in Chatham and their brave members have performed many rescues in the area.  The Coast Guard station is right there at the foot of the lighthouse.  If the weather is windy, various flags are posted indicating small craft warnings, gales and up to hurricane force winds  At Christmastime, the Coast Guardsmen put a huge wreath on the lighthouse.  For more information on the lighthouse, please see my link on the right side of my webpage.

Monomoy Wildlife Sanctuary
Chatham is on one of the national flyways for migrating birds and a truly amazing number of species may be seen here.  Because of our relatively mild climate in comparison to other places at this latitude, many birds…just like people…like to stay here year round now!  During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area was not quite as hospitable to the birds as commercial market gunners were continually shooting them both for gourmet food and for their feathers to decorate ladies’ hats.  As the flocks decimated, fortunately laws were passed to protect the birds.  Take a short boat trip in one of the local charter boats and you will arrive at the Sanctuary.  For more information on guided tours, call the Audubon Societies Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary…508-349-2615.  There are over 3000 acres of protected land on North and South Beaches and over 285 species of birds have been seen…a bird lover’s Nirvana!

Samuel de Champlain 1606 Voyage Commemoration Monument
Did you think the Pilgrims landing at Provincetown were our first foreign visitors?  Not so!  Champlain came in 1606 and stayed for a few weeks before exploring much more of North America.  Unfortunately, there were some interpersonal relationship problems with the native Wapanoag Indians with the result of a hasty departure after four Frenchmen and many more Indians lost their lives.  Champlain Road runs by Stage Harbor.  The monument overlooks Pleasant Bay and the ocean across from the lighthouse.

Kate Gould Park
When one thinks of a picture of Chatham…the choice seems to be either the lighthouse or the gazebo at Kate Gould Park on a Friday night with the Chatham Band playing to over 5000 happy people!  Many people stake out their territory early in the day with towels, blankets and beach chairs.  Various churches offer dining al fresco with hotdogs, hamburgers and lobster rolls before the concert.  Balloons are sold by the school and the ambiance makes for a fun evening for the entire family, especially as all are encouraged to join in and sing and dance!  The park is right in the middle of town near the Wayside Inn.

Chase Park
Located on Cross Street, this park is the home to our Festival of the Arts, a juried multimedia show in August.  Added attractions are the historic Grist Mill as well as a picnic area and bowling green…and restrooms.

For the Active Family!
There are so many great outdoor activities to keep your family busy in Chatham!  Some of these are covered on my home page with the buttons on the right side, so please go there for extensive information.

  1. Swimming and Beaches…some of the best beaches around are here in Chatham!  There are some North Chatham beaches on Pleasant Bay as well as the famous Nantucket Sound Beaches…both areas have considerably warmer water…by at least 10o!... than Nauset Beach on the Atlantic!  Use caution with the Pleasant Bay beaches as another break through in North Beach makes much stronger currents there as well as at Lighthouse Beach directly in front of the lighthouse.  There are several ponds for freshwater swimming…the largest being Schoolhouse Pond off George Ryder Road going toward West Chatham.  Oyster Pond on Stage Harbor Road is a great place or young children.
  2. Tennis courts are available to the public at Chatham High School on Crowell Road, as well as next to the Railroad Museum on Depot Road and also one in South Chatham off Bobbies Lane.

 

  1. The Bike Trail is a very popular recreational facility in Chatham and it runs through quite a few towns on the Cape.  Please see the home page for information on this.
  1. Hiking Trails are found in several places in Chatham…and they are legal…you are not trespassing!  The Conservation Foundation has acquired over 500 acres of land to keep open space in our town.

The first trail is the Frost Fish Creek Trail off Route 28 (Orleans Road) near the Frost Fish Creek development and features woods, marsh and field plant life for about an hour’s walk.

The second trial is the Barclay Ponds Trail at the Old Queen Anne and Training Field Roads intersection and shows wooded plant life for about half an hour of walking.

The third trail is Honeysuckle Land, Off Stage Harbor Road which leads to the cedar swamp.

The fourth trail is the George Ryder Road South Trail opposite Ocean State Job Lot.  Here you will see woods, cranberry bogs and brackish marsh during a 15 minute walk.

To really find these places accurately, it is highly recommended to buy an inexpensive book:  “A Beachcomber’s Botany” at the Foundation headquarters at Mayo House across from the town information booth on Main Street.  There is so much good information to help you know and enjoy what you are looking at!

 

Some Historic Places in Chatham You Must See!

 

We are so fortunate here in Chatham to have preserved so many of our historic buildings and landmarks.  This has not been an easy project, and we take pride in all the beauty and history of these places.

Chatham Bars Inn

The Grand Dame of Chatham, sitting high above Pleasant Bay and North Beach with the ocean beyond, it has attracted a notable clientele ever since opening in 1914.  During WWII, some European royalty sought refuge here.  Extensively remodeled and updated, it features luxurious rooms in the hotel as well as the cottages.  A summer treat is having a drink on the wide front porch and admiring the view…or for even more fun, visit the beach bar featuring live music many nights for cocktail hour.

The “Old Village”
This is one of the most sought after places to live in Chatham with all that charm of yesteryear.  Many types of architecture can be seen here and fortunately will be preserved with the establishment of the Old Village District Organization.  This is the area around and behind the lighthouse.

The Chatham Historic Business District
Downtown Main Street makes Chatham such a popular destination with that quintessential New England small town feeling!  Many of the buildings date to the 1850s and this area is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In the summer, merchants look like they are having a competition for the most beautiful display of flowers in their window boxes!

Louis Brandeis House
This was the summer home of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1916 -1939) and namesake of Brandeis University.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is lovingly maintained by the family.

The Brick Block
Also on the National Register of Historic Places, this half timber English Tudor style building is in the center of town.  While it must have been seen as out of character at the time of its construction in 1915, it is appreciated today and is the home of several lovely shops.  The Brick Block was built by Charles Hardy, a Boston stockbroker who also built Chatham Bars Inn.

Chatham Railroad Museum
Also on the Register of Historic Places, this is the original railroad depot for the town.  There was a special spur of the Cape Cod Railroad that ran seven miles down to encompass Chatham and provided much needed transportation for necessities as well as people.  Running from 1887 – 1937, at the beginning it was a very popular alternative to a stagecoach!  Today it is open to the public and your children will love exploring the old caboose as well as seeing objects from that era and a diorama of the Chatham railroad yard.

Chatham Gristmill
Another National Historic Place, the gristmill was built in the late 1700s and moved from Stage Harbor Road to Chase Park.  Currently there is talk of getting its windpowered sails in motion again.

Eldredge Public Library
A successful native son, Marcellus Eldredge, returned home and built this impressive library in the Renaissance/Romanesque style in 1896.  There is an exceptional library upstairs for genealogy students.  Naturally this is another Historic Register Place and is on Main Street.

Chatham Marconi Maritime Center
Built in 1914 by Guglielmo Marconi, a Nobel Prize winner, this campus of 14 acres has a place in history as it was the home of the Wireless Telegraph Company of America Receiving Station being the largest ship-to-shore station on the East Coast.  This was in the days when telegraph operators communicated in Morse Code.  Currently plans are underway for the town to make a master plan to preserve this unique historical collection of buildings for various uses.  It is on Route 28 in the Ryders Cove area.

Monomoy Point Lighthouse
Located almost at the tip of Monomoy Island, this is one of the earliest cast-iron lighthouses in the country, built in 1823.  While it is now decommissioned, many people visit there and there is talk of restoring it and making it more accessible to the public.  National Register of Historic Places

Chatham Light and Coast Guard Station
Do see my home page for the whole story of Chatham Lights!  They had an unfortunate tendency to fall into the sea due to the erosion of the bluff.  This one was built in 1877…and so far is still there and visited by thousands every year.  Great old pictures of the various lighthouses on my website!

David Bassett House
Built around 1840 for this sea captain, it is now the Visitors’ Center on the corner of Routes 28 and 137.  Do stop there!  Friendly people will be delighted to help you and answer questions!

The Atwood House Museum of the Chatham Historical Society
A “must see” in Chatham, this is one of its oldest homes and a real treasure trove of information and collections.  Located on Stage Harbor Road, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy from the famous Alice Stalknacht murals to the China Trade collections, to children’s toys, to the fishing industry of the past and also a genuine North Beach “camp” rescued just in time.  There are well informed docents to give you a tour.  Again…this is highlighted on my home page.

Mayo House
Built in 1826, this is that perfect Cape Cod architecture on the postcards!  It is open to the public during the summer and is replete with period furniture.  This charming home is on Main Street next to Cape Cod Five Bank and is the home of the Chatham Conservation Foundation which brought you all those trails to hike on!

Caleb Nickerson House and William Nickerson Cabin Site
As a Nickerson descendant by marriage, I am excited about this attractive home located on Route 28 (Orleans Road) overlooking Ryders Cove.  The Nickerson Family Association did a fine job with this home owned by Caleb Nickerson, great-great grandson of William Nickerson who bought land from the Indians to found Chatham.  The home still features its wide pine floors, three working fireplaces and a beehive oven.  During the warmer months, there are educational programs about colonial life.  There is also an extensive genealogical library there.

Squanto Commenorative
You have read about the kind Indian who saved the ill prepared Pilgrims from starvation their first winter at Plymouth.  He taught them how to plant the Indian staple of corn, beans and squash.  While on a humane mission to purchase corn for the Pilgrims, he was taken ill and died at the site of the Nickerson cabin.  There is a marker there in his memory.

Main Street School
Until 1963, all twelve grades were in this building.  It has now been extensively remodeled into a community center.  Some old timers fondly recall that the town jail was located there too and on their way to class, some of the boys would check to see who might have been detained overnight!

Monomoy Theater
This is a very special venue for summer entertainment in Chatham!  Featuring the Ohio University Players as well as professional actors, it truly is a place to enjoy seeing some very special talented young people.  It is located on Main Street next to Chatham Glass Company.

Chatham Drama Guild
On Crowell Road, here is another venue for your enjoyment of the theater year round.

North Beach and the Cape Cod National Seashore
During the 1950s, then Senator John Kennedy helped enact legislation to protect the Atlantic shoreline from Chatham to Provincetown.  At that time, those who owned property on this fragile beach were not all enthusiastic as they had hoped to sell this shoreline at a profit!  However…all these years later, we owe a debt of gratitude to those people who prevented rampant commercialization of the area.  The pristine beach changes every year, and while much more of it was accessible by SUV entering from Nauset Beach, now much of it is cut off by breaks in that barrier beach and is only accessible by boat.  However, there are water taxis that can take you over there and it certainly is worth the trip to walk on these pristine, uncrowded beaches and enjoy the shore as it has been for thousands of years.  There are some beach “camps” owned by local people for generations who love them even though they have minimal facilities…but lots of charm.  Sadly, many have been lost in the past few years with some fierce storms.