Chatham To Celebrate History Weekend June 14-16

by Tim Wood

CHATHAM – The annual History Weekend will take place June 14 to 16. It’s an opportunity to not only learn more about the history of Chatham, but to also get a glimpse at museums, historic buildings and other aspects of the town’s heritage.

Sponsored by Historic Chatham, a coalition of museums and organizations that focus on local history, History Weekend brings together programs, special events, new exhibits and a passion for the past to benefit residents and visitors alike.

Some museums will have reduced admission and special hours for the weekend. A full listing, along with a map, can be found at

Events begin a day early, on Thursday, June 13 at 5 p.m., with a presentation about Chatham’s historic cemeteries by Dan Zoto, an archaeological consultant, who will present an overview of the historical commission’s new historical inventory of the town’s historic cemeteries. The talk will be held at the Eldredge Public Library; seating is limited, so reservations are recommended via the library’s website, The historic library will be open its regular hours during the weekend.

The Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum 847 Orleans Rd. will be open with reduced admission Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and will feature the exhibit, “The Golden Age of Trans-Atlantic Ocean Liners.” The group will also hold its annual members meeting at the Chatham Orpheum Theater on Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with guest speaker William Farris, who was the last manager of WCC, the ship-to-shore radio station that operated at the Chathamport site for more than 70 years.

The Atwood Museum at 347 Stage Harbor Rd. will also have reduced admission Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with new exhibits, including “A Place To Hang Your Hat,” a collection of men’s and women’s hats, and “Music to Our Ears” about local music history. The museum, operated by the Chatham Historical Society, also has a new dedicated children’s activity room.

Two iconic though seldom open historic buildings will be available to the public. The Godfrey Grist Mill at Chase Park will be open Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be grinding corn, weather permitting. Tours are free. Likewise, free tours of the Chatham Lighthouse will be conducted Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The Caleb Nickerson Homestead and Colonial Gardens at 1107 Orleans Rd., owned and operated by the Nickerson Family Association, will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Docents will be on hand to explain the history of the buildings and the site, which was near where Chatham’s first European settlers, William and Anne Nickerson, built their home in 1664.

An archaeological dig of the homestead site will be subject of an 11 a.m. lecture by Gary Nickerson featuring many of the artifacts discovered during the excavations. Also on Saturday, at noon, Sonny Gada will demonstrate planting of a traditional kitchen herb garden and raffle the resulting container. And from 1 to 2:30 p.m., fiber artist Cheryl Flett will demonstrate wool spinning.

The Chatham Railroad Museum on Depot Road will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. At 10 a.m. Saturday, the museum will offer cyclists on the Old Colony Rail Trail a short briefing on the history and locations of railroad stations along the trail and a 1915 timetable.

The Chatham Conservation Foundation’s Mayo House at 540 Main St. will be open for tours Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Monomoy Island historic lighthouse and keeper’s station will be open for tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located on the remote Monomoy Island National Wildlife Refuge, the lighthouse can be reached only by water; boat transportation will not be provided.